Womack: Cooperstown Chances: Is Trevor Hoffman a Hall of Famer?

From SABR member Graham Womack at The Sporting News on August 18, 2015:

After Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman might rank as the most prominent closer yet to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot. The long-time Padres fireman recorded 601 saves over his 18-year career, second-best all-time behind Rivera, finishing in the top five for National League Cy Young Award voting three years.

Enshrining closers is still a relatively new practice, with just four pitchers in Cooperstown who relieved 80 percent of their games according to Baseball-Reference.com. These men are Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter and Hoyt Wilhelm. Dennis Eckersley rates as an honorary fifth member of this group, though technically he won more than 150 games as a starter before becoming a closer. John Smoltz is in Cooperstown primarily as a starter, though his dominant mid-career interlude as a closer certainly didn’t hurt his case.

Aside from those six, Lee Smith has garnered as much as 50 percent of the Hall vote from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and seems popular enough with former players to be a viable Veterans Committee candidate if nothing else. Mariano Rivera meanwhile looks like a shoo-in when he appears on the BBWAA ballot three years from now. Billy Wagner’s got an interesting case sabermetrically, though it will be tough to get a majority of voters to buy in.

Then there’s Hoffman, who will be newly eligible for Cooperstown through the BBWAA in a few months. It will be interesting to see what happens with Hoffman, whose Hall of Fame case suffers a little upon close scrutiny.

Read the full article here: http://www.sportingnews.com/mlb/story/2015-08-18/baseball-hall-of-fame-2016-trevor-hoffman-candidates-eligible

Originally published: August 18, 2015. Last Updated: August 18, 2015.