January 13, 2011

Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman and their Hall of Fame cases

Trevor Hoffman announced his retirement yesterday, putting an end to his career with a 42-save lead over No. 42 Mariano Rivera (601-559).

Interestingly, both have converted saves at an 89 percent success rate. If you look a little closer, Mo is at 89.30% and Hoffman is at 88.77%.

Will Rivera be the all-time saves leader at the end of the season? I say, who cares? He just signed a two-year deal so if he can stay healthy the record is very breakable. Still, what does Mo have left to prove? If Mo Retired today, he’d still be considered the greatest closer of all time. Why? Because he’s saved more games on the biggest stage than anyone.

I’m referring to Mo’s all-time postseason save record of 42 (strange, that number, again). The next highest total is 18 (Brad Lidge). Rivera is the all-time postseason ERA leader with a microscopic 0.71 ERA and has five rings. Hoffman has four postseason saves and no rings.

Rivera is undoubtedly a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but people actually debate whether Hoffman is worthy.

Hoffman says 300 saves could be the benchmark for closers to reach the Hall of Fame, but that just hasn’t shown in the voting. For example, the all-time saves leader before Hoffman, Lee Smith, was on just 45.3 percent of this year’s ballots. He finished with 478 saves.

If Hoffman never reaches the Hall of Fame — I think he will, but it’s possible he doesn’t — Mo very well could be the only closer to ever make it.

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