Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hoffman always second fiddle to Mo Rivera

Closer Trevor Hoffman will retire as the only pitcher in baseball history to save 600 games, an extraordinary accomplishment. But sometime this year or next, Hoffman will likely find himself once again in a familiar position: playing second fiddle to Mariano Rivera.

Hoffman, whose best years came with the San Diego Padres, will end a terrific career with an all-time record 601 regular-season saves. Rivera just inked a two-year contract to continue closing games for the New York Yankees and only needs 42 more saves to catch Hoffman.

But Mo will still be considered the greatest closer in baseball history even if he does not surpass Hoffman because of his postseason dominance. Rivera has 41 postseason saves, by far the most of any pitcher and well above Hoffman’s four saves, and a miniscule 0.71 ERA pitching against the best teams in baseball during the playoffs. In their only significant head-to-head matchup, Mo helped the Yankees secure a quick and easy four-game sweep of the Padres while Hoffman gave up a 3-run blast to Scotty Brosius that sealed the Padres’ fate in the 1998 World Series.

Not that any of this matters much at this point since both men are going to the Hall of Fame, probably on the first ballot, despite the reluctance of the baseball writers to support the induction of modern closers such as Lee Smith and John Franco. Hoffman has had a fantastic career and earned the respect and admiration of people throughout baseball, including Rivera.

Hoffman was great. Mo was just better.

Thanks to Djh57 via Wikipedia for the photo.

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