I am going to compare Trevor Hoffman to Gwyneth Paltrow.
Look, Trevor Hoffman is going to be in the Hall of Fame. The 7 time All Star and one time All Time Saves leader got 74% of the Cooperstown vote last year. It was his second time on the ballot and there is no doubt that he will get the handful of votes to get over the hump.
And when that inevitably is announced next January, Trevor Hoffman will indeed be a Hall of Famer. He will always have that title. Hoffman will be at the ceremonies and get the standing ovations when he is introduced.
I will not protest, nor be angry. It isn’t as if he was a bad pitcher. I just wouldn’t have voted for him if I had the vote.
I would be one of the 26%. Now remember there is a HUGE gray area between “Hall of Famer” and “Worthless player who should be cut.” And anyone who got in clearly had a fine career that at least 3/4 of the contemporary voters felt was worthy of inclusion.
Now there are some Hall of Famers who I would not necessarily have voted for. Don Sutton comes to mind. As does Bill Mazeroski. Bruce Sutter does too. But they are all in the Hall of Fame. And while I don’t agree with the vote, I am not about to get my torch and pitchfork and storm Cooperstown.
I don’t think Trevor Hoffman belongs in the Hall of Fame. It has nothing to do with the fact that he was a reliever. I love that Hoyt Wilhelm, Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers and Rich Gossage are in and Mariano Rivera is not far behind.
But a reliever is a specialist and needs to be looked at differently than a starting pitcher. A Hall of Fame reliever needs to be the person who comes into the big game and shuts down the opposition. Sure Gossage and Rivera had a few post season meltdowns, but the also had their highlights.
Hoffman was the first pitcher to get to 600 saves. But he also did so when the role of the closer was reduced to 1 inning where they had to preserve a 3 run lead. A pitcher with an 18.00 ERA could, theoretically pile up the saves.
Hoffman often had solid seasons with ERAs in the low 2’s and the 1’s. Yes, he was an effective reliever.
He also had many many MANY high profile disaster losses. Let me put it this way. He played for the small market San Diego Padres for the bulk of his career, which means he was not guaranteed the post season chances of a Rivera or Eckersley who made many Octobers or the nomadic Fingers and Gossage.
In his 12 postseason games, he saved 4 games, blew 2 saves and lost a pair.
A small sample size to be sure but he came up small in some of the biggest moments in Padres history.
He lost the elimination game in the 1996 Division Series, blew a save in Game 1 of the 1998 NLCS and blew the save and lost the critical Game 3 of the 1998 World Series.
And those games do not include the blown save for a Wild Clinching game in 2007 and later a blown save in the one game 2007 playoff game. Twice in 5 days, the Padres handed the ball to Hoffman for a chance to make the playoffs. Both times he blew the lead.
Does that mean he was bad? Of course not. But if we are going to say he was one of the elite players, shouldn’t a specialist whose job it is to close out close games have a more reliable record in the big close games?
The pitcher he most resembles according to Baseball Reference is Lee Smith. He also had a wonderful career and briefly held the All Time Saves record.
What hurt HIS chances? The fact that in the few post seasons he did pitch in, he lost multiple times.
How is Hoffman different? I would argue that Billy Wagner had as impressive career as Hoffman and his vote total hasn’t cracked 11% yet.
But Hoffman will get in.
So what does this have to do with Gwyneth Paltrow?
She is an Academy Award winner. That title will follow her for all time. “Oscar Winner Gwyneth Paltrow joins the cast of…” this and that for all time.
She won for Shakespeare in Love which came out in 1998, the same year Hoffman served up Scott Brosius’ homer in the World Series.
Should she have won? I don’t think so. Cate Blanchett was much much better in Elizabeth. That is also the only time Paltrow has ever been nominated. So if they gave it to Blanchett that year, Paltrow would not have the title “Oscar Winner.”
Now the Academy has made it up to the brilliant Blanchett, who has won not one but two Oscars since then. But Paltrow still has her statue.
Do I think she deserves it?
Would I have voted for her?
Does it upset me?
Eh, no. She is obviously an actress with talent and has worked for a while. So I am not going to get mad. I just shrug and say “Well, I wouldn’t have voted for her but congrats to her.”
That’s the reaction I will have for Trevor Hoffman. He will be in Cooperstown. I will call him “Hall of Fame closer Trevor Hoffman” and do so with no snark.
He earned it, even if I don’t agree with it.