Hall of Fame: Trevor Hoffman Snubbed By the BBWAA Again

Another year, another Hall of Fame vote and another opportunity for the Baseball Writers Association of America to disrespect MLB closers and their major role in the modern game of baseball.

In his second year on the ballot, former San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffman was unable to secure a spot on the requisite 75 percent  of ballots. With 74 percent of the vote, Hoffman missed being inducted into the most prestigious hall of fame in American sports by a single percentage point.

With his exclusion from the list of inductees for the 2017 class, Hoffman has again been denied the honor of being called a Hall of Famer, an honor he rightfully deserves.

Consider, for a moment, his career numbers.

ERA: 2.87

Strikeouts: 1,133

All-Star appearances: 7

And most importantly:

Saves: 601

With a line like this, it is an absolute travesty that he was not inducted in his first year eligible.

In the history of the Hall of Fame, only five bona fide closers have been elected to the hall. These inductees have been Bruce Sutter, Rollie Fingers, Hoyt Wilhelm, Dennis Eckersley and Goose Gossage. Of these five men, only Gossage has over 350 saves, while the others have anywhere from 228 to 341.

None of them, save Wilhelm, had a lower ERA in their career than Hoffman did. In addition, all of these men had a short stint as a starter, except Wilhelm, who was a closer through and through. This begs the question: What is the BBWAA looking for in a closer? What more do they need to elect a true, bona fide closer to the hall?

I have racked my brain looking for an answer and I keep coming back to the same point. The current members of the BBWAA must lack a respect for the closer position. This is mind-blowing considering the fact that closers have played a major role in the sport for years.

Rollie Fingers was elected to the hall in 1992. This obviously shows that the writers have had an interest in and understood the role of closers in baseball for a while. But this does not remedy the fact that they have been so selective and stringent in their choices to admit them into Cooperstown. Stringent to the point of excluding one of the two men to record over 600 career saves in his career.

Each writer voting is actively writing about the game and has an active understanding of the sport. With this insight, surely, they can see and understand how heavily a closer impacts the game.

For all their insight and knowledge of the game, they have come up embarrassingly short in their duty to elect the best players possible into the Hall of Fame.

The only solace that can be found in Hoffman’s showing on this year’s ballot is that he has gained votes from last year. In the 2016 vote, Hoffman secured a spot on 67.3 percent of the ballots, a gain of 6.7 percent. But with one more year to consider his credentials, it’s outrageous that fewer than five more voters couldn’t find the merit of Hoffman’s achievements to include him on their ballots.

While it is a travesty of uncommon indecency, there is an undeniable likelihood that Hoffman will find himself on the stage sometime in the near future accepting his enshrinement into the Hall of Fame.

One similar case we can look at is newly-inducted member Tim Raines. After almost 10 years on the ballot, Raines finally found his name on at least 75 percent of the ballots. This came after an arduous journey from appearing on just 24.3 percent of the ballots in his first year of eligibility in 2008, to his appearance on 86 percent of ballots, securing his spot in Cooperstown.

If Raines is any indication of the fortunes of Hoffman, we can certainly expect to see his name on more that 75 percent of ballots soon.

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