Friday, September 16, 2011

Hall of Fame voters straw poll 9/15/11 says Hoffman Cooperstown bid not reliant on stats-Sullivan, San Diego U-Trib

9/15/11,"Whatever Rivera does won’t affect Hoffman’s ticket to Cooperstown," Tim Sullivan, San Diego Union Tribune

Baseball’s career saves leader is about to be overtaken, and possibly as soon as Saturday. Hoffman is less than a full season into retirement, and less than a month from having the Padres retiring his No. 51, but his rearview mirror reveals a pitcher in pinstripes closing ground like a cheetah.

Hoffman has 601 saves; Rivera 600. Ted Leitner’s defiant declaration of Aug. 21, to the effect that Hoffman was the game’s greatest closer because of his unsurpassed saves total, is a statement that will shortly be rendered shortsighted.

That much appears to be inevitable. What it all means, however, may not be all that much. A straw poll of Hall of Fame voters taken Thursday afternoon indicated that

  • is not predicated on statistical supremacy.

I don’t think it matters at all,” said Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News. “Trevor Hoffman reached the rare air where it pretty much doesn’t matter if you’re first or second. And Rivera could actually help him.

“It seems voters have been slow to embrace closers for the Hall of Fame. So the attention (paid) a guy like Rivera, who was both very good and pitched in New York, might actually be a plus for guys like Hoffman.”

Of the five relief pitchers thus far inducted in the Hall of Fame, only Dennis Eckersley (who spent the first half of his career as a starter) has been elected on the first ballot. Rollie Fingers, the first man to compile 300 saves, was voted in on his second try; Hoyt Wilhelm on his eighth attempt; Goose Gossage on his ninth; Bruce Sutter on his 13th.

Still, there is a resonance to big round numbers in baseball, and Trevor Hoffman was the first reliever to reach both the 500- and 600-save plateaus. Moreover, there is absolutely no chance he can slip below second on the career saves list

  • before he becomes eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2016.

Among active pitchers, only Rivera is within 275 saves of Hoffman’s career total. Milwaukee’s Francisco Rodriguez, the ranking 20-something reliever with 291 saves, is not currently used as a closer.

Rivera and Hoffman are to the ninth inning what Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain were to the NBA: head and shoulders above their contemporaries.

I don’t think Mariano passing him will have much, if any, effect on Hoffman’s (Hall of Fame) chances,” said David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “In fact, viewed another way, some voters might even view it as, if Hoffman had as many saves as Rivera, the greatest closer in history, then hey, what does that say for Hoffman?

“… With some voters, particularly younger ones, that might resonate. I believe both will, and should, be elected. Trevor won’t get in on first ballot, but he’ll get in, I’m fairly certain.”

Context can be crucial in these matters. Dave Concepcion was a splendid shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds, a five-time Gold Glove winner, but his stature slipped after Ozzie Smith and Cal Ripken, Jr. came on the scene.

Timing is not everything, but it sure helps to be No. 1 for at least a little while. Roger Bannister attained immortality by becoming the first man to run a mile in less than four minutes, but he would hold the world record for only 46 days. Hoffman’s hold on the saves record has spanned almost five years —

  • longer than the Germans occupied Paris.

Everybody gets passed on every list,” said Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who covered Hoffman’s last two years with the Brewers. “I think Rivera’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and I think it will be a high-percentage vote. I hope Trevor is, too. I’ll vote for him on the first ballot.

“It’s not the doctor’s office. I don’t think you have to take a seat and wait your turn.”

How well Hoffman’s numbers ultimately compare to Rivera’s will certainly influence the debate about their relative merits. Rivera’s remarkable postseason record and the degree of difficulty involved in pitching to lineups bolstered by designated hitters should probably count more heavily in these deliberations than any advantages derived by pitching for

  • the big-budget Yankees
  • instead of the bargain-basement Padres.

It’s important to remember, though, that enshrinement in Cooperstown is not a zero-sum proposition. You don’t have to pick Willie Mays over Mickey Mantle, or Mariano Rivera over Trevor Hoffman. You can have them all.

“I think I draw the circle as tight as anyone when it comes to the Hall of Fame,” said Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. “But unless you’re going to use Mariano Rivera as the minimum standard for admitting closers — and that’s already not the case — I don’t see how you can keep Trevor Hoffman out of Cooperstown.”

Padres President Tom Garfinkel said Thursday the decision to retire Hoffman’s number was not made with Rivera’s proximity “front of mind.” Hall of Fame spokesman Craig Muder said the jersey, cap and spikes from Hoffman’s 500th save will remain on display at the museum indefinitely.

No matter what happens with Mariano,” Muder said, “that will not change.”

Records are made to be broken, but not forgotten."

  • -----------------------------------

12/26/07, "A Short Career, the Pitchers," by Dr. Michael Hoban, Seamheads.com

The NEWS HOF Gauge recognizes two small groups of pitchers as having HOF numbers even though they did not reach the NEWS criterion of 235 for a starting pitcher.

Source: Seamheads.com (http://s.tt/12yLZ)"As you can see, at this point in his career, Mo Rivera is way ahead of the HOF standard and could emerge as the greatest relief pitcher to date."Dr. Hoban's new book, "Baseball's Best, The True Hall of Famers," covers relief pitchers in Chapter 11. It incorporates his "NEWS" analysis tool which among other stats recognizes Win Shares: "The 150/1700 standard – The true relievers

Player IP NEWS
Mariano Rivera 953 175
Lee Smith 1289 164
Bruce Sutter 1042 164
Dan Quisenberry 1043 156
Rollie Fingers 1701 155

Rollie Fingers just makes it since he actually pitched in 1701 innings. Only Bruce Sutter and Fingers are in the Hall of Fame.

You will note that Trevor Hoffman (the “saves” leader) is not on this list. His NEWS score is 142."...

From Seamheads.com blog, 12/26/07" A short bio on Michael Hoban on The Baseball Guru.

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