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Monday, September 01, 2014

Trevor Hoffman’s Hall of Fame induction seems inevitable

Hoffman is eligible for the Class of 2016 and Yankees great Mariano Rivera, who saved a record 652 regular season games and 42 more in the postseason, will complete the cast in 2019.

“I think Mo is a slam dunk for sure,” Hoffman said. “We can say our careers paralleled each other a little bit, but when you’re talking about the greatest closer of all time, that sets him apart.”

Comparatively, though, Hoffman certainly is the greatest closer in NL history.

“I don’t know if that’s a ticket to Cooperstown. You and I both know that,” he said. “But I appreciate it. It’s something I didn’t allow myself to think about as a player. I remember Tony answering questions about it and him waiting nervously for that phone call. ‘Do you realize your place in the game and what you’ve accomplished?’ And still there was that ‘not sure’ attitude. I get that. I understand that. There are contemporaries I [compare] to as well. So, we’ll see. I hope things happen.”

Dennis Eclairskey, closer Posted: September 01, 2014 at 11:13 PM | 128 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, padres, trevor hoffman

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   1. Moeball Posted: September 02, 2014 at 01:07 AM (#4783459)
I loved watching Trevor pitch all those years in San Diego, but in all honesty I can't say I would vote for him. I would say good, but not great.

Keep in mind, every great closer in recent years - even the great Mariano - couldn't hack it as a starter, which is vastly more difficult and valuable to a team.

If a great closer could make it as a starter, he would. Smoltz went back to starting as soon as he felt his arm could take the strain of starting again.

   2. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 01:34 AM (#4783463)
Hoffman was a very good to great closer for a long while, but come on. Mo goes in because even as a closer he has borderline HoF bWAR and HoF bWAA (56.6/32.7) and is inarguably the greatest ever and by an overwhelming margin. Hoffman, by contrast, has 28 bWAR and 13.7 bWAA. The only way that they're even close is in total number of saves, and even there Rivera has 51 more.

Hoffman is one of the best closers ever, but no one is within several miles of Rivera.
   3. vortex of dissipation Posted: September 02, 2014 at 01:36 AM (#4783465)
You can't call Hoffman a failed starter - he didn't start a game in his MLB career.
   4. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 01:38 AM (#4783466)
Trevor Hoffman had a career ERA of 2.87... which is really nice but still leaves him over half a run behind Rivera. Only 6 teams got to Rivera for an ERA above 2.87, and four of those were NL teams, of which only the Mets faced him more than 20 times.

ETA: Man, I didn't realize how much Rivera feasted on the AL Central. The Indians did reasonably well against him, but in 289 innings against the Tigers/Royals/Twins/White Sox he had a 1.37 ERA.
   5. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 02, 2014 at 01:44 AM (#4783467)
Likely, but I don't think it's inevitable. The ballot will still likely be crowded by the time he becomes eligible, and it seems there's a better understanding of the reliever's role in the pecking order by the voters (as seen by Smith's stalled candidacy and by the absence of Cy candidates among closers in recent seasons).

While my PHoF only goes two closers deep, he lines up fine with Fingers and Sutter, if that's your thing.

   6. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: September 02, 2014 at 02:01 AM (#4783469)
I would never vote for him but I think he might make it. There are still a lot of sportswriters out there with romanticized views of closers. He'll jump right to the top of that list.
   7. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 02:30 AM (#4783473)
I'll just leave this here . . .

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/w/wilheho01.shtml
   8. Bourbon Samurai Posted: September 02, 2014 at 05:50 AM (#4783477)
I'd vote for Hoffman in a vaccuum, but given current circumstances I think it would be quite awhile before he'd crack my 10 man ballot.
   9. Dennis Eclairskey, closer Posted: September 02, 2014 at 08:25 AM (#4783503)
I had forgotten he was a two-time runner up to the CY. In '98 he was second to Glavine but drew more first place votes (13 to 11) and drew 12 first place votes when he was runner to Webb in '06
   10. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: September 02, 2014 at 08:48 AM (#4783517)
Why "Eclairskey", and not "Eclairsley"?
   11. JRVJ Posted: September 02, 2014 at 08:49 AM (#4783518)
1, Mariano developed his signature pitch (the cutter) AFTER having being moved to the bullpen.

Could he have gone back to starting with that pitch? We don't know, but it's inaccurate to point blank describe Mariano as a failed starter.
   12. Dennis Eclairskey, closer Posted: September 02, 2014 at 09:07 AM (#4783526)
Eclairsley would make more sense but Eclairskey is how I pronounced Eck's name when I was a kid. Not sure how I added the K in there
   13. AROM Posted: September 02, 2014 at 09:40 AM (#4783541)
You can't call Hoffman a failed starter - he didn't start a game in his MLB career.


True. But you can call him a failed shortstop.
   14. Captain Supporter Posted: September 02, 2014 at 09:42 AM (#4783542)
I was going to make the same comment JRVJ made until I read his (#11). The Mariano Rivera was a failed starter trope is getting old. And dumb. Particularly since its based on 10 starts in his rookie year before he developed what is arguably the most effective single pitch in the history of baseball.
   15. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: September 02, 2014 at 09:43 AM (#4783543)
Eclairsley would make more sense but Eclairskey is how I pronounced Eck's name when I was a kid. Not sure how I added the K in there


Confusion with Nick Esasky?
   16. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 10:42 AM (#4783596)
Could he have gone back to starting with that pitch? We don't know, but it's inaccurate to point blank describe Mariano as a failed starter.


No way. The pitch was so devastating because he could throw it at max effort every time. He wouldn't be able to keep it up for more than 3-4 innings at a time, tops.

I don't think Hoffman should get in and I don't think he will get in. At least not anytime soon; who knows what the Veterans Committee of 2040 will do.

For that matter I have my doubts that Rivera would get in--certainly I don't think he'd be widely viewed as automatic--if he'd toiled most of his career in San Diego instead of New York. (I know, I know, he would have ended up in New York by the early 2000s anyway.) But I could be wrong; Eckersley cruised in.
   17. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 10:50 AM (#4783608)
BTW, Papelbon is halfway to Rivera now. 619 IP, 188 ERA+ for Papelbon; 1283 IP, 205 ERA+ for Rivera.
   18. Dennis Eclairskey, closer Posted: September 02, 2014 at 10:51 AM (#4783611)
Confusion with Nick Esasky?

That's possible but Esasky was Nick Esskay like the hot dogs and had teammate Ron Oyster. I also called Tim Wallach, Tim Walsh

Hoffman has no current challenge from an active reliever for his #2 all time spot:
Active saves leaders are Nathan 369 and he's 39 years old, Rodriguez has 343 and is 32, Papelbon 319 at 33. The best challenge is Kimbrel with 180 at 26
   19. Dennis Eclairskey, closer Posted: September 02, 2014 at 10:54 AM (#4783616)
For that matter I have my doubts that Rivera would get in--certainly I don't think he'd be widely viewed as automatic--if he'd toiled most of his career in San Diego instead of New York. (I know, I know, he would have ended up in New York by the early 2000s anyway.) But I could be wrong; Eckersley cruised in.

I remember being worried Eck wouldn't make it because he retired just shy of 200 wins & 400 saves. Rivera will get 90-95+% in year 1
   20. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 10:57 AM (#4783618)
What is hilarious about the fawning over Rivera is that we heard for years and years from a panicked Yankee fan base and media that once Rivera retired the Yankees wouldn't be able to replace him. "Who will be the next Mariano? Nobody can!" were the plaintive wails that we heard. And yet, when it finally came time to replace him, they replaced him without missing a beat, first with Rafael Soriano when Rivera got injured, and now with Betances/Robertson.

As I pointed out a while back, the thing that most separated Rivera from other closers was that Rivera was able to do it for 18 years. But that was irrelevant to team building, because you don't sign pitchers to 18 year contracts. It's not hard to find, for any given season or few seasons, a pitcher who will post a 150 ERA+ in 65 innings, and that gets you most of the way to Rivera; going from a 150 ERA+ to a 200 ERA+ in the closer role really doesn't add much, particularly the way today's closers are under-utilized to mostly pitch with a lead and thus with a margin of error.

Betances was found in their own back yard, and now people are making the same mistake with him in overvaluing him.
   21. TJ Posted: September 02, 2014 at 11:02 AM (#4783623)
But that was irrelevant to team building, because you don't sign pitchers to 18 year contracts.


Not yet, anyway- but just give Ruben Amaro Jr a little more time...
   22. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 02, 2014 at 11:06 AM (#4783629)
The Mariano Rivera was a failed starter trope is getting old. And dumb.


Other than the fact that he was in fact a failed starter. He had a 5.94 ERA in his ten start audition. You are welcome to argue that had he been given a second chance with the cutter he would have succeeded but he was given a chance to start and he failed at it.

If he could have succeeded as a starter then the Yankees screwed up leaving him in the bullpen.
   23. Dennis Eclairskey, closer Posted: September 02, 2014 at 11:09 AM (#4783634)
What Ray is saying sorta defines Rivera and Hoffman's HOF candidacies. Rivera was able to do it for nearly two decades for a constant playoff contender in the biggest media market. Hoffman was a good step below Rivera but consistent in the same way for basically one franchise but one who only at times contended
   24. AROM Posted: September 02, 2014 at 11:12 AM (#4783636)
I think the Yankees valued Rivera appropriately, for the most part. They paid him 169 million. Andy Pettitte played the exact same stretch of years and made 139 million. Not perfectly, I think the two were about equal in value. An elite closer = an above average starter. But pretty close.

It's nowhere near what they paid Jeter (253 million through 2013), another guy whose career spanned the same years. And on a per year basis they never paid him as much as Sabathia and A-Rod.
   25. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 11:21 AM (#4783649)
Following up on my post 20…. How have the Yankees done without Rivera closing?

Rivera missed most of 2012 and is of course retired in 2014. Here are the Saves/Opportunities numbers for Yankees relievers for each of the past four years:

2011: 47/63 = 75% (with Rivera)
2012: 46/59 = 78% (without Rivera **)
2013: 49/62 = 79% (with Rivera)
2014: 43/60 = 72% (without Rivera)

**and not counting the 5/6 Rivera earned before he was injured for believing he was as good as Mantle

The same numbers presented a different way:

2011&2013;: 96/125 (with Rivera)
2012&2014;: 94/125 (without Rivera)

So if my math is correct we see the drop without Rivera: 2 extra blown saves over two seasons. And since not every blown save results in a loss you’re talking about something like 1 or 2 extra losses over the two seasons. Or maybe 1 extra loss per year.

That’s what people are going ga-ga over.
   26. PreservedFish Posted: September 02, 2014 at 11:25 AM (#4783659)
It's not hard to find, for any given season or few seasons, a pitcher who will post a 150 ERA+ in 65 innings, and that gets you most of the way to Rivera; going from a 150 ERA+ to a 200 ERA+ in the closer role really doesn't add much


Rivera always had huge WAR totals for a reliever. He beats Hoffman by something like 75% more WAR per inning. Why? I think I brought this up in a previous thread and somebody explained it to me, but I don't remember what the answer was.
   27. Captain Supporter Posted: September 02, 2014 at 11:25 AM (#4783661)
the thing that most separated Rivera from other closers was that Rivera was able to do it for 18 years. But that was irrelevant to team building, because you don't sign pitchers to 18 year contracts. It's not hard to find, for any given season or few seasons, a pitcher who will post a 150 ERA+ in 65 innings, and that gets you most of the way to Rivera; going from a 150 ERA+ to a 200 ERA+ in the closer role really doesn't add much


Yeah, and I guess its also not hard to find some group of pitchers who can pitch 141 innings of extremely high leverage, postseason baseball and put up a .759 WHIP and a .70 ERA.

The other problem, of course, is that when the Robertson's and Soriano's falter you have to put up with their bad seasons. Or you can try to sign someone. You know, like the A's did this year with Jim Johnson and have 42 innings of 53 ERA+ baseball before you concede its not so easy to find the pitchers who are guaranteed to put up 150+ ERA seasons

   28. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 11:29 AM (#4783665)
Yeah, and I guess its also not hard to find some group of pitchers who can pitch 141 innings of extremely high leverage, postseason baseball and put up a .759 WHIP and a .70 ERA.


That was unpredictable even for Rivera.

   29. PreservedFish Posted: September 02, 2014 at 11:37 AM (#4783674)
Yeah Ray, to some extent you are endorsing that classic stathead fallacy that it is easy to find good bullpen arms. Relievers are all just small samples, and every year you get unexpected guys pitching to 1.25 ERAs, but that doesn't mean that you can predict who will do it, or sign those guys at will.
   30. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 11:40 AM (#4783681)
Yeah Ray, to some extent you are endorsing that classic stathead fallacy that it is easy to find good bullpen arms. Relievers are all just small samples, and every year you get unexpected guys pitching to 1.25 ERAs, but that doesn't mean that you can predict who will do it, or sign those guys at will.


You can predict who will pitch to 150 ERA+s, which is my point.

The top shelf of closers are very predictable as a group. Take 10 of them and you can bank on getting a 150 ERA+ from them or more, with maybe 1 or 2 of them faltering. Maybe.
   31. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 11:42 AM (#4783685)
The top 10 saves getters in MLB this year:

Kimbrel (ATL) 41
Holland (KCR) 41
Rosenthal (STL) 41
Rodriguez (MIL) 39
Rodney (SEA) 39
Jansen (LAD) 38
Street (2TM) 35
Robertson (NYY) 35
Papelbon (PHI) 33
Perkins (MIN) 33

For the most part a very predictable list. And Chapman isn't there because he took a line drive to the head.

(No, it's not the best list because it's not an efficiency list; feel free to post efficiency numbers for them. Only Rosenthal is having a mediocre season. The others range from a 125 ERA+ up to the stratosphere. A 125 ERA+ isn't great for a reliever but it's not going to hurt you. I grant that relievers are not best judged by ERA+.)
   32. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 02, 2014 at 11:44 AM (#4783689)
Relievers are all just small samples, and every year you get unexpected guys pitching to 1.25 ERAs, but that doesn't mean that you can predict who will do it, or sign those guys at will.


Exactly. It's not hard to stumble upon the guy who will deliver the 150 ERA+, but it's also not hard to miss the guy who suddenly goes in the crapper.

I'd be interested to see if any team that has churned through multiple closers that has been consistently able to pick up guys who deliver that kind of near-Rivera season. It seems every team gets a Jim Johnson type of season (or multiple ones) from their expected best, and I doubt the Yankees will become the exception.
   33. Buck Coats Posted: September 02, 2014 at 11:47 AM (#4783693)
I think the Yankees valued Rivera appropriately, for the most part. They paid him 169 million. Andy Pettitte played the exact same stretch of years and made 139 million. Not perfectly, I think the two were about equal in value. An elite closer = an above average starter. But pretty close.


This would seem like a pretty strong argument against Mariano for the HoF to me. (And one that I agree with - I think Pettitte had the better career, and I don't think Pettitte's a HoFer, so therefore...)
   34. Captain Supporter Posted: September 02, 2014 at 11:47 AM (#4783694)
The problem with that is that you are not including people like Johnson, who would have been 'predicted' to be part of that group but was awful. And next year, some of the people in the group above will also be average or below average. And you can't predict with anything approaching statistical significance which ones they will be.
   35. JJ1986 Posted: September 02, 2014 at 11:47 AM (#4783695)
The top shelf of closers are very predictable as a group. Take 10 of them and you can bank on getting a 150 ERA+ from them or more, with maybe 1 or 2 of them faltering. Maybe.


I think this is usually only true for the top 4-5 guys. Joe Nathan, Grant Balfour and Jim Johnson have fallen apart between last year and this one.
   36. AROM Posted: September 02, 2014 at 12:03 PM (#4783721)
The top shelf of closers are very predictable as a group. Take 10 of them and you can bank on getting a 150 ERA+ from them or more, with maybe 1 or 2 of them faltering. Maybe.


I generally agree with this, but so what? You have to pay a ton in either money (for a Papelbon type free agent) or in player value/prospects to trade for a guy like Kimbrel. It is very hard to figure out which hard throwing youngster will break out like Betances has.

This would seem like a pretty strong argument against Mariano for the HoF to me. (And one that I agree with - I think Pettitte had the better career, and I don't think Pettitte's a HoFer, so therefore...)


It's Guidry vs Gossage all over again, though Pettitte and Mariano are ahead of those two in career value. Mo is ahead of Gossage in everything, but Guidry certainly wins peak over Pettitte.
   37. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 12:09 PM (#4783726)
I generally agree with this, but so what? You have to pay a ton in either money (for a Papelbon type free agent) or in player value/prospects to trade for a guy like Kimbrel.


So? You're paying top dollar for Rivera also.
   38. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: September 02, 2014 at 12:35 PM (#4783752)
I hate the "failed starter" argument. Nearly every player is a failed shortstop.

Why should we vote for Willie McCovey? He is a failed shortstop. He is a failed secondbaseman. He is a failed thirdbaseman. He is a failed catcher.

Measure a player by total value. The "failed starter" argument has no place.
   39. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: September 02, 2014 at 12:52 PM (#4783766)
Comparatively, though, Hoffman certainly is the greatest closer in NL history.


Just for kicks, what NL pitcher with over 100 saves has the most WAR?

Smoltz with 67.3

who is #2?
Hoffman with 28.0
followed by Wagner with 27.4...

Among pitchers with 200+ saves (any league), Hoffman's 28.0 WAR is 6th, right behind Lee Smith's 29.4, looking at WAA instead, he's tied with Smith for 7th with 13.7, Joe Nathan is 6th with 13.8

Anyway, Hoffman is one of the better "closers" of all tine, but I don't really see any separation between him and Lee Smith
   40. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 12:54 PM (#4783767)
Rosenthal is the worst pitcher on my list in #31 by ERA+, with a 107. And yet he leads the league in saves, 41/46 with an 89% conversion rate. (Rivera's career conversion rate was 89%.)

Closers in today's game simply aren't used in a way that maximizes their leverage, often pitching with a margin for error (a lead), meaning that any good pitcher can do the job almost as well as the great closer.

Meaning that the great closers are overvalued.
   41. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 01:04 PM (#4783775)
I hate the "failed starter" argument. Nearly every player is a failed shortstop.

Why should we vote for Willie McCovey? He is a failed shortstop. He is a failed secondbaseman. He is a failed thirdbaseman. He is a failed catcher.

Measure a player by total value. The "failed starter" argument has no place.


Except that a starter and reliever are doing the same thing: pitching. That's not the case with SS-CF or whatever.

Rivera flopped as a starter. Yes, it was a small sample, so that's not entirely fair. Still, he found relieving immediately easier, because relieving is easier. He was never moved back. True, he was so good at relieving that the team didn't want to move him back. But that doesn't mean you get to claim his status as a successful starter, or pretend that he wasn't moved to the pen because he couldn't hack it as a starter in his one attempt. He never succeeded in the role. We know that relieving is easier than starting. We know that relievers are overvalued, and particularly closers, given the limited number of innings they pitch and given usage patterns. No other pitcher is almost guaranteed to pitch with a margin for error.

I just don't have a lot of respect for closers, or relievers, certainly not anywhere near the respect that others give them. I think Andy Pettitte is HOVG and not a deserving Hall of Famer, but I'd put Pettitte into the Hall of Fame before Rivera.

Rivera only gets to walk through the door because he's graded on a different curve, since the standards for relievers are more lax than the standards for starters.
   42. The District Attorney Posted: September 02, 2014 at 01:12 PM (#4783783)
I'd be interested to see if any team that has churned through multiple closers that has been consistently able to pick up guys who deliver that kind of near-Rivera season.
I feel like the Braves in the Alejandro Pena era pretty much did this. Of course, the response to that from a "closer advocate" would be that those Braves "only" won one World Series, while the team that had Mariano Rivera pitching like a superhuman every postseason won five. And, y'know, that is a perfectly reasonable response. I personally don't think baseball works that way, but it's not like we have some example of a closer-era dynasty that changed its closer every year to throw back at them.

Nonetheless, I agree with #38 that value is based, not on how hard it was for your team to "find" you, but on how much you ultimately contributed to the team winning. It's much like punters or kickers in football. Peyton Manning can't punt, and the punter wouldn't be a good quarterback. These facts really have nothing to do with whether punters or quarterbacks are more valuable. Nonetheless, we can indeed determine that the nature of the game of football is such that quarterbacks make a huge difference, whereas even the best punter vs. the worst is not a huge difference.

I think it's fair to say that by saber stats, the only relievers who even have a plausible HOF case are Wilhelm and Rivera. (BTW, the football Hall of Fame has elected one punter, and one full-time kicker.)

Hoffman is one case where I'm more interested in the "meta" aspect of whether the writers think he should be in the HOF, as opposed to whether he actually should be, which I think is clear. I don't think the writers necessarily think of Hoffman as a great player. I think many of them view him as both a "choker" who had some bad big games, and as a "compiler"/"not someone you'd tell your grandchildren you saw"/etc.

However, if it remains the case that only two guys in baseball history have 600 saves and no one else has 500, I do think the other guy with 600 is bound to be elected eventually. The biggest threat to Hoffman will be if it takes him long enough to get elected that 600 no longer seems like a must-elect milestone. (As #18 points out, it could indeed be a long time before that point, helping Hoffman's chances.)
   43. MNB Posted: September 02, 2014 at 01:17 PM (#4783788)
How often did Rivera get two inning saves in the post season? It feels like the Yankees would bring him in in the 8th in tight games regularly in the post season and he was nearly lights out. In the '09 series, I remember feeling that the Phils needed to take a lead or tie it by the 7th or the game was basically over.
   44. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 01:30 PM (#4783798)
Yankees fans have no respect for Hoffman's career. They think that he was a choker in big spots, despite the fact that he got 600 saves and only had 13 innings to show himself in the postseason.

A lot of this is colored by Rivera being lucky enough to contribute to a contender every year.
   45. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 02, 2014 at 01:33 PM (#4783800)
I feel like the Braves in the Alejandro Pena era pretty much did this.


That sounded like a good call. It looks like they got that level of performance* in 10 of 15 seasons during their title run.

* Since I was just eyeballing it, I considered any closer with an ERA+ over 130 as qualifying, though I made an exception for John Smoltz in his 128 ERA+, 55-save season, which seemed quite reasonable.

   46. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: September 02, 2014 at 01:50 PM (#4783816)
I generally agree with this, but so what? You have to pay a ton in either money (for a Papelbon type free agent) or in player value/prospects to trade for a guy like Kimbrel. It is very hard to figure out which hard throwing youngster will break out like Betances has.


From Betances's one appearance against the Mets this year, I have to say he is the filthiest pitcher I have seen in a long time--high 90s fastball with nasty, nasty breaking stuff for strikes. I don't know how anyone ever gets a hit against him.

It looked like a little league game where the kid who pitches is over 6 feet and the only one who's been through puberty, and he's just mowing down 5th grader after 5th grader. It was like that time Sandy Koufax pitched to Dennis the Menace. Granted, there are some teams like that who could beat the actual Mets, but the point remains.
   47. AROM Posted: September 02, 2014 at 01:50 PM (#4783817)
Yankees fans have no respect for Hoffman's career. They think that he was a choker in big spots, despite the fact that he got 600 saves and only had 13 innings to show himself in the postseason.

A lot of this is colored by Rivera being lucky enough to contribute to a contender every year.


Some, though certainly not all, of Rivera's volume advantage is due to his performance in big spots. He got to pitch in the 2003 World Series only because of his 3 inning brilliance in ALCS game 7. Hoffman has no postseason innings in 2007, and that is almost entirely on him - in game 163 he was staked to a 2 run extra inning lead. He gave up 3.

I know that's cherry-picking for sake of example. Rivera didn't pitch in the 1997 ALCS or World Series because of a homer he gave up to Alomar. The point is that Rivera added more opportunities for postseason play than Hoffman did.
   48. Ok, Griffey's Dunn (Nothing Iffey About Griffey) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 01:55 PM (#4783818)
* Since I was just eyeballing it, I considered any closer with an ERA+ over 130 as qualifying, though I made an exception for John Smoltz in his 128 ERA+, 55-save season, which seemed quite reasonable.


This was the year Smoltz had that 2/3 inning, 8 earned runs allowed performance at the beginning of the season. His era at that point was 43.20. He pitched 78.2 innings after that, at a 2.40 era.
   49. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 02, 2014 at 01:56 PM (#4783819)
I think the Yankees valued Rivera appropriately, for the most part. They paid him 169 million. Andy Pettitte played the exact same stretch of years and made 139 million.

Pettitte had 3 prime years in Houston for which the Yankees would have paid him more, retired in 2011 although he was coming off a very good season, and decided to come back for 2012 so late in spring training that the Yankees had committed their money elsewhere and only offered him $2.5M. The difference in career earnings between Rivera & Pettitte is mostly about the career choices Pettitte made, not how the Yankees valued the players.
   50. Ron J2 Posted: September 02, 2014 at 02:05 PM (#4783824)
#47 I researched how well Rivera pitched in the post-season compared to the other team's ace reliever in the same series. Rivera has a huge edge both in how much he pitched and how well.

To be specific, Rivera pitched 141 innings with an ERA of 0.70. The relief ace on the opposing teams combined to pitch 90.1 innings with an ERA of 3.69.

That's a very big deal.
   51. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 02, 2014 at 02:22 PM (#4783833)
Hall of Fame voters haven't had enough opportunities in the Modern Closer Era for us to be all that definitive about where they'll draw the line, but in many contexts closers are evaluated based on Saves, and that may be enough for Hoffman. Rivera was a consensus Hall of Famer, for all but the most ardent die-hard doubters, no later than 2009, when he made his usual contribution to another Yankee World Series victory. At that time, Hoffman was still well ahead in career saves, and that seems like his best argument for the Hall. Not sure that will be enough, as there are major differences in WAR, ERA, ERA+, and post-season performance, but Saves may do it for Hoffman.
   52. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 02:27 PM (#4783836)

I feel like the benefit of having a Rivera is not exactly that he was successful "for 18 years" (and he missed most of 2012 so it was more like 17). It is more that he was successful and healthy for 17 of 18 seasons (and post-seasons in most of those years). That kind of consistency and success is incredibly rare. If you signed Rivera for a 4-year deal, you got 4 years of excellent pitching (and could reasonably expect to re-sign him for another 4). If you sign one of the other guys, you're probably going to get 3 years of that quality. Maybe you'll get 4, but you might also get 2 or 1 or 0.

The top 10 saves getters in MLB this year:

The top 10 for last season:

Johnson (BAL) 50
Kimbrel (ATL) 50
Holland (KCR) 47
Rivera (NYY) 44
Nathan (TEX) 43
Soriano (WSN) 43
Reed (CHW) 40
Balfour (OAK) 38
Romo (SFG) 38
Chapman (CIN) 38

Johnson, Nathan, Balfour and Romo each have an ERA+ below 85 this season (sorry, I pulled the actual numbers and then BBTF ate my post).

If you go back to 2012, the list included Jason Motte, Chris Perez and Joel Hanrahan, in addition to Johnson and Nathan.

If you go back to 2011, the list included John Axford, J.J. Putz, Heath Bell, and Francisco Cordero, in addition to Hanrahan. (Also on the list were Drew Storen and Brandon League, who have had bad seasons in the interim but are good again this year.)
   53. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 02:48 PM (#4783857)
Hall of Fame voters haven't had enough opportunities in the Modern Closer Era for us to be all that definitive about where they'll draw the line, but in many contexts closers are evaluated based on Saves, and that may be enough for Hoffman.

I think this hits the mark. Rivera will clearly make it, most likely first ballot, but below that we don't now where voters will draw the line with modern closers. If the bar is set at Rivera, I doubt another closer will ever make the Hall. However, we know that Lee Smith, who became a modern closer but didn't start out as one, has gotten a fair amount of support. He won't make it, but it looks like the line is somewhere between Smith and Rivera. Hoffman is a lot closer to the former than the latter in value, but the voters may look at it differently due to the consistency and the saves totals.
   54. AROM Posted: September 02, 2014 at 03:04 PM (#4783881)
It's tough to call it a line. Lee Smith, to me, is clearly better than Bruce Sutter but is not likely to get in.

My personal HOF is tough on relievers, I would limit it to Rivera, Gossage, Eckersley, and Wilhelm. Some other posters would probably consider me overly generous to the group.
   55. flournoy Posted: September 02, 2014 at 03:06 PM (#4783884)
Easy trivia question:

Three of the Padres' top twelve players in franchise history (ranked by bWAR) were #1 overall draft picks. Name them.
   56. The District Attorney Posted: September 02, 2014 at 03:07 PM (#4783886)
Matt Bush!
   57. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 03:20 PM (#4783906)

Adrian Gonzalez?
   58. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 03:21 PM (#4783908)
Dave Winfield?

EDIT: I see he wasn't the #1 overall pick
   59. AROM Posted: September 02, 2014 at 03:22 PM (#4783910)
Looking at relievers with 10+ career WAR:

Darren O'Day has the 6th best ERA+ at 184.

Papelbon at 188 is 3rd best. But he's 33 and has come close to, but not quite reached, Mariano's totals in innings, saves, and WAR. And while he could maintain that high rate (Rivera did) it's more likely it comes down at some point.

Kimbrel at 26 and in his 4th full season, has the best ERA+ ever at 267. Well above Rivera. Kimbrel has 281 innings now. To find anyone with an ERA+ better than Kimbrel's you have to lower the inning limit down to about 35, which would make him 3rd after 2014 rookies Neil Ramirez and Ken Giles. Lower it to 25, and he's 4th behind the immortal Brad Kilby.
   60. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 03:22 PM (#4783911)
Nevin & Benes (not Elaine)
   61. AROM Posted: September 02, 2014 at 03:25 PM (#4783916)
What happened to Kilby? Must have been an injury but bullpen doesn't say. From 2009-10 he pitched 25 innings with a 1.07 ERA, and a 28-4 K-W ratio. Never pitched again, at least in affiliated baseball.

Edit: wiki says retired in 2012 due to shoulder injury.
   62. flournoy Posted: September 02, 2014 at 03:32 PM (#4783924)
Gonzalez, Benes, and Nevin are correct. Just eyeballing it, it looks like the Mariners are probably the only other team with three guys in their top fifteen. Griffey and Rodriguez are gimmes - who's the third?
   63. Sweatpants Posted: September 02, 2014 at 03:37 PM (#4783929)
Floyd Bannister?
   64. Ziggy Posted: September 02, 2014 at 03:43 PM (#4783932)
I realize we've had this discussion plenty of times, but I really don't see how a relief pitcher can accumulate enough value for the hall of fame. Rivera pitched (slightly more than) half as many innings as Koufax, and Koufax is the peakiest of the peak hall of famer. If you are pitching half as many innings as the one of the shortest career hall of famers, I don't see how you could possibly amass enough value.

And yes, I know that someone will mention WPA or leverage, but the runs that Koufax prevented in the first inning count just as much as the ones that Rivera prevented in the 9th.

But I think that Hoffman will get into the hall. Closers don't contribute much to baseball teams, their value is in being good vehicles for stories. And baseball writers, who vote for the hall, are professional story tellers.
   65. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: September 02, 2014 at 03:48 PM (#4783939)



I realize we've had this discussion plenty of times, but I really don't see how a relief pitcher can accumulate enough value for the hall of fame.


There's your answer.
   66. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 03:49 PM (#4783940)
#47 I researched how well Rivera pitched in the post-season compared to the other team's ace reliever in the same series. Rivera has a huge edge both in how much he pitched and how well.

To be specific, Rivera pitched 141 innings with an ERA of 0.70. The relief ace on the opposing teams combined to pitch 90.1 innings with an ERA of 3.69.

That's a very big deal.


Sure, but I'd think the more apt comparison would be: How did all closers do in the postseason during the two decades Rivera played?

Not that any analysis will find that Rivera's performance was not a major edge -- 0.70 ERA is 0.70 ERA -- but I suspect the gap is closer than 3.69.
   67. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 03:50 PM (#4783941)
There's your answer.


Where.
   68. zonk Posted: September 02, 2014 at 03:51 PM (#4783944)
I completely get and even buy into - to some extent - the vast disparity in value between a great closer and even an average starter.

I also concur that with the backlog that's gonna be around for the next 2-3-4-5 years, I probably don't have room for Hoffman.

However, I think it's pretty much time to accept that 'closer' is a role that's recognizable and persistent. What I guess I'm saying is that I think closers ought to be measured more on the "Fame" side than the numbers-centric "merit" side of the HoF equation.

Hoffman should go in and probably deserves to go in - even if there are a number of SPs that aren't in that are probably 'better'/more valuable than he is. But - you know - 3Bs can say the same thing about SSs, etc.

What we probably need is a new yardstick for closers and HoF worthiness.... Hate on the counting metrics all you want, but I think 400 saves gets you in the door for consideration. This is not to say that 400 saves is 500 homeruns or 3000 hits -- but if you put the ticket into the discussion at that mark, then I think you get solely a list of guys who were truly good - sometimes great - for an extended (10+ years) period.

From there, you can start looking at ERA+ and other metrics.

This makes Hoffman, Rivera, Franco, Lee Smith and Wagner the only eligibles for consideration. I think we can safely say that all the "pre-closer"/"early adapter" closers have been adequately accounted for and represented (and Sutter probably shouldn't be in to begin with). I suppose there's still Smoltz, but he's a hybrid that will get in on his own merit/SP credit.

I don't think I'd vote for Franco, Smith, or Wagner... But - I don't think the Hall is cheapened with Hoffman or Rivera. Even the three just below the line - it would be more of a travesty that SPs are left out rather than them being "in". All three excelled for an extended period in the role, including a handful of truly great seasons.

The only active closers I see with a shot would probably be Papelbon... and potentially Kimbrel and Chapman - though, way too early on both to even consider them.

I think Papelbon needs another 5 years of excelling to get any serious consideration on a thin ballot -- Kimbrel and Chapman obviously have a long way to go.
   69. cardsfanboy Posted: September 02, 2014 at 04:12 PM (#4783968)
I am bothered when people talk about Hoffman's hof case and ignore the fact that he has the lowest percentage of inherited runners scored of any of the 200+ saves pitchers. His ERA may not be at the level of Rivera, but he was better at preventing the runners on base when he came in from scoring than Rivera.
   70. Ziggy Posted: September 02, 2014 at 04:39 PM (#4783999)
The voting instructions don't so much as mention fame. But they do mention actual contributions on the field. The problem is that the writers get wrapped up in the narratives that they construct, and use those narratives as a basis for player evaluation.
   71. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: September 02, 2014 at 04:40 PM (#4784001)

Where.


Not gonna bite.
   72. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 05:01 PM (#4784040)
I realize we've had this discussion plenty of times, but I really don't see how a relief pitcher can accumulate enough value for the hall of fame. Rivera pitched (slightly more than) half as many innings as Koufax, and Koufax is the peakiest of the peak hall of famer. If you are pitching half as many innings as the one of the shortest career hall of famers, I don't see how you could possibly amass enough value.

Well, Rivera pitched about half as many innings at a much better (relative to league) rate. 205 ERA+ to 131 ERA+ (Koufax's best ERA+ in a season was 190, worse than Rivera's career rate).

And yes, I know that someone will mention WPA or leverage, but the runs that Koufax prevented in the first inning count just as much as the ones that Rivera prevented in the 9th.

Yes, they do, and Rivera and Koufax are almost identical in Runs Above Replacement (482 vs. 484). In other words, they both prevented about the same number of runs (when adjusted for era and ballpark). No leverage adjustment in there.

Returning to your original comment: "If you are pitching half as many innings as the one of the shortest career hall of famers, I don't see how you could possibly amass enough value." You can be as good as Mariano Rivera, that's how.
   73. Dennis Eclairskey, closer Posted: September 02, 2014 at 05:23 PM (#4784064)
What cardsfanboy says about Hoffman's inherited runners is interesting. I'd love to see someone tackle Smith vs. relievers of his day (Reardon, franco, Henke) and Hoffman vs. Smith as well as Hoffman vs. relievers in his day (Wagner, Mo) in some of the deeper stats for relievers
   74. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: September 02, 2014 at 05:24 PM (#4784067)
Hoffman has no current challenge from an active reliever for his #2 all time spot:
Active saves leaders are Nathan 369 and he's 39 years old, Rodriguez has 343 and is 32, Papelbon 319 at 33. The best challenge is Kimbrel with 180 at 26


All time, most saves through age 26:
1 Francisco Rodriguez 208
2 Craig Kimbrel 180
3 Gregg Olson 160
4 Huston Street 149
5 Bobby Thigpen 148

through 30:
1 Francisco Rodriguez 294
2 Huston Street 269
3 Rod Beck 260
4 Ugueth Urbina 227
5 Robb Nen 226

through 33:
1 Francisco Rodriguez 343
2 John Wetteland 330
3 Jonathan Papelbon 319
4 Robb Nen 314
5 Trevor Hoffman 314

through 36:
1 Lee Smith 434
2 Mariano Rivera 413
3 Trevor Hoffman 393
4 Billy Wagner 385
5 John Franco 359

The best challenger is Papelbon he's ahead of Hoffman at the same age and pitching well
Kimbrel is also ahead of Hoffman at the same age and pitching well- but he has quite a few less in the bank than Papelbon
KROd? I would have thought his chance was nil- but he's seemingly back from the dead this year- and he's ahead of Hoffman at the same age...
and.. Huston Street has 81 more saves through 30 than Hoffman had
   75. PreservedFish Posted: September 02, 2014 at 05:27 PM (#4784074)
The voting instructions don't so much as mention fame.


It's also called the Hall of Fame. Perhaps the founding fathers did not foresee the age of internet pedantry?
   76. Ziggy Posted: September 02, 2014 at 05:46 PM (#4784093)
There's nothing pedantic about it. The instruction don't tell you to vote for famous people, they do tell you to vote for those who help their teams win games.

If Rivera prevented as many runs from scoring as Koufax (above average, adjusted), that's not a mark in his favor. Koufax is in as the most extreme peak case, because he prevented all those runs from scoring in a very short time-frame. Rivera's are distributed a little bit here and a little bit there for 19 seasons. More Jim Palmer (to take the first HOFer who pitched 19 seasons that I though of) than Sandy Koufax. Palmer's mark (if you're curious, he may not be representative of long-career HOF pitchers) is 621.
   77. Baldrick Posted: September 02, 2014 at 05:46 PM (#4784095)
I could go either way on Hoffman for the HOF. I have a pretty high bar for relievers, I guess, but I don't think it's ludicrous to induct people who - in a vacuum - created less value than starters. The role is real and it genuinely does concentrate leverage quite a bit. Teams have acted like it's a position for my entire lifetime. And if you don't have a genuine great (like Rivera and perhaps Hoffman), your team will be worse off to a degree that is probably larger than straight WAR suggests. So I'd probably lean slightly toward putting in Hoffman.

On the other hand, I look at the list of guys in #74 and man is it not very impressive. Rod Beck, Huston Street, John Franco, Robb Nen...good pitchers, yes. But HOFers? Absolutely not. Of course Hoffman is better than all those guys. But by how much? And that's the thing. There just really isn't much of a gap worth talking about here. John Franco pitched more innings at more or less the same rate. He led the league in saves three times, Hoffman only twice. But he accumulated fewer in his big years and stopped closing in his dotage, while Hoffman kept going as a closer right until the end. But that's not much to hang your hat on.

I'm much more inclined to induct Wagner. He at least was legitimately GREAT. Only one season (of 28 innings) in his whole career with an ERA+ lower than Hoffman's career mark.
   78. McCoy Posted: September 02, 2014 at 05:53 PM (#4784099)
If Trevor were to get 4% of the vote and then vanish off the ballot I don't think I or almost anyone else would ever think of him again. Has anyone thought about Trevor since he retired besides his mother?
   79. Baldrick Posted: September 02, 2014 at 05:55 PM (#4784100)
If Rivera prevented as many runs from scoring as Koufax (above average, adjusted), that's not a mark in his favor. Koufax is in as the most extreme peak case, because he prevented all those runs from scoring in a very short time-frame. Rivera's are distributed a little bit here and a little bit there for 19 seasons. More Jim Palmer (to take the first HOFer who pitched 19 seasons that I though of) than Sandy Koufax. Palmer's mark (if you're curious, he may not be representative of long-career HOF pitchers) is 621.

1. Koufax is not a marginal HOFer. He is extreme in terms of concentrating his value, but his value in that period was so high that you'd have to be a pretty aggressive career>peak voter to not consider him a relatively easy selection. If Rivera is in Koufax's ballpark (not saying he is, but IF that's the case) then he's an easy HOFer, too.
2. Koufax packed his value into a limited number of seasons. Rivera packed his value into a specific inning/gamestate. Of the two, it's more valuable to do it Rivera's way. It's a different sort of peak, but it's still a peak, not just "a little bit here and there."
3. Jim Palmer threw 4000 innings. That is a lot.
   80. PreservedFish Posted: September 02, 2014 at 06:02 PM (#4784103)
There's nothing pedantic about it. The instruction don't tell you to vote for famous people, they do tell you to vote for those who help their teams win games.


In fact, the guidelines do not say even that. They do say that voting should be based on a player's "record" and "playing ability" and "contribution to the team," in addition to the softer non-athletic criteria such as "integrity." That's me being pedantic. However, I think that we can assume that the framers expected that the voters would realize that they should be choosing good players, not bad ones. Just as we might assume that they felt it unnecessary to mention "fame" in the voting criteria for an honor called the Hall of Fame.
   81. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: September 02, 2014 at 06:04 PM (#4784104)
On the other hand, I look at the list of guys in #74 and man is it not very impressive. Rod Beck, Huston Street, John Franco, Robb Nen...good pitchers, yes. But HOFers? Absolutely not. Of course Hoffman is better than all those guys.


Well Hoffman at his best wasn't actually better than any of those guys, what makes Hoffman a relative outlier is that he was healthy and consistent for such a long time
   82. cardsfanboy Posted: September 02, 2014 at 06:20 PM (#4784114)
I could go either way on Hoffman for the HOF. I have a pretty high bar for relievers, I guess, but I don't think it's ludicrous to induct people who - in a vacuum - created less value than starters. The role is real and it genuinely does concentrate leverage quite a bit. Teams have acted like it's a position for my entire lifetime. And if you don't have a genuine great (like Rivera and perhaps Hoffman), your team will be worse off to a degree that is probably larger than straight WAR suggests. So I'd probably lean slightly toward putting in Hoffman.


I'm in the camp that think no relievers have provided enough value to be worthy of the hall. But the voters have spoken, and they have said, the best of the best deserve enshrinement. By that standard, Mariano clearly crosses the line. Of course this isn't about Mariano, but Hoffman, and he's much closer to the line. There are six relievers in the hall, and not using the weakest argument by saying "is he better than Bruce Sutter" but instead the argument of "Is he one of the five best in history?"(or whatever is the number that you think it should be, while acknowledging the hof history of how many they have put in)

Hoffman is close for me, he has long endurance of high quality, has some numbers that are under recognized(as I mentioned above, among relievers he has one of the best inherited runners prevented from scoring in history, and since he's a closer, he doesn't get the advantage of coming in, holding a runner, being pulled in that inning and then having that runner score...among pitchers with 200 inherited runners he's 3rd all time in inherited runners score percentage, among those with over 100 saves, he's first, well ahead of Rivera--20% to 29%)

   83. The District Attorney Posted: September 02, 2014 at 06:30 PM (#4784119)
I think that we can assume that the framers expected that the voters would realize that they should be choosing good players, not bad ones.
I'm not even sure about that. Kenesaw Mountain Landis advocated that "Harvard" Eddie Grant should be inducted because he was a war hero. That didn't happen, obviously, but the fact that he argued it tells me that it was seen as a potential definition at that time. No one even argues for e.g. Jim Abbott now.¹

I don't believe in original intent just in general. Life is about the people actually living it, not about what dead people wanted. But, especially not in this case. At least the framers of the U.S. Constitution did intend to establish a republic that guaranteed certain rights and protections. I don't think the "framers" of the Hall of Fame had an intent beyond "a tourist attraction in Cooperstown."

¹ Cue someone giving me a cite to such an article. If so, I revise to "it is exceedingly rare."
   84. homerwannabee Posted: September 03, 2014 at 12:44 AM (#4784310)
Am I the only person who believes that Billy Wagner was a better closer than Trevor Hoffman? Sure Hoffman had 179 more saves than him, but comparatively on every other measure of value Wagner blows Hoffman out of the water. ERA Wagner 2.31, Hoffman 2.78. Whip .998, Hoffman 1.058
ERA+ Wagner 187, Hoffman 141.

If you really think about it Wagner was by far the better closer.
   85. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 03, 2014 at 12:59 AM (#4784322)
Wagner was nearly as good as Rivera. In ERA+ (187 to 205), in save percentage (86% to 89%), but he only had 3/4 the innings.

Though WAR kills Wagner in the comparison. I'm not sure that WAR is of much use in evaluating relievers.
   86. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 03, 2014 at 12:59 AM (#4784323)
Am I the only person who believes that Billy Wagner was a better closer than Trevor Hoffman?


I imagine a lot of people here believe that, myself included. Wagner wasn't quite as good, or for as long, as Rivera, but he's the closest thing* we've seen in the era of the one-inning reliever.**

* Papelbon could eventually get there.

** Except in the postseason, which is where the most obvious difference in the careers of Billy Wags and Mo can be found. In the postseason, Wagner allowed the same number of runs as Mo, and two additional earned runs, in 129.1 fewer innings.

Edit: Partial coke to RDP.
   87. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 03, 2014 at 01:13 AM (#4784326)
I am bothered when people talk about Hoffman's hof case and ignore the fact that he has the lowest percentage of inherited runners scored of any of the 200+ saves pitchers. His ERA may not be at the level of Rivera, but he was better at preventing the runners on base when he came in from scoring than Rivera.

That doesn't seem very significant, especially on a percentage basis. How often did Hoffmam come in "early" with RISP before the 9th inning, as compared to coming in "late" after the starter (or another reliever) fell a bit short in the 9th, maybe only needing to get 1 or 2 outs with a runner on 1st? Context would matter here, especially if the number of inherited runners is low.
   88. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 03, 2014 at 01:17 AM (#4784328)
Who here would trade Strasburg for Betances straight up?
   89. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 03, 2014 at 01:17 AM (#4784329)
Who here would trade Strasburg for Betances straight up?
   90. bobm Posted: September 03, 2014 at 01:45 AM (#4784332)
Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1901 to 2014, (requiring SV>=250, inherited_runners>=0 and inherited_score>=0), Stats complete to 1973 and mostly complete to 1954, sorted by smallest inherited_perc

                                                     
Rk                Player    IS%  SV  IR  IS From   To
1         Trevor Hoffman 20.23% 601 346  70 1993 2010
2            Randy Myers 22.94% 347 401  92 1985 1998
3          Jose Valverde 25.55% 288 137  35 2003 2014
4      Jonathan Papelbon 25.58% 319 129  33 2005 2014
5          Troy Percival 25.66% 358 226  58 1995 2009
6       Dennis Eckersley 26.07% 390 349  91 1975 1998
7           Billy Wagner 27.71% 422 166  46 1995 2010
8              Lee Smith 28.04% 478 510 143 1980 1997
9          Dave Righetti 28.21% 252 397 112 1979 1995
10         Huston Street 28.70% 269 115  33 2005 2014
11        Rollie Fingers 28.77% 341 782 225 1968 1985
12              Rod Beck 29.03% 286 279  81 1991 2004
13         Rick Aguilera 29.03% 318 279  81 1985 2000
14              Robb Nen 29.06% 314 203  59 1993 2002
15        Mariano Rivera 29.16% 652 367 107 1995 2013
16   Francisco Rodriguez 29.38% 343 211  62 2002 2014
17       Armando Benitez 29.41% 289 323  95 1994 2008
18          Jeff Reardon 30.02% 367 523 157 1979 1994
19             Tom Henke 30.54% 311 370 113 1982 1995
20    Jason Isringhausen 30.59% 300 170  52 1995 2012
21          Bruce Sutter 30.79% 300 445 137 1976 1988
22        John Wetteland 31.36% 330 220  69 1989 2000
23          Todd Worrell 31.50% 256 327 103 1985 1997
24            Todd Jones 31.55% 319 355 112 1993 2008
25           John Franco 32.17% 424 457 147 1984 2005
Rk                Player    IS%  SV  IR  IS From   To
26            Joe Nathan 32.59% 369 135  44 1999 2014
27          Rich Gossage 33.29% 310 832 277 1972 1994
28           Bob Wickman 33.33% 267 330 110 1992 2007
29     Roberto Hernandez 33.83% 326 405 137 1991 2007
30             Jose Mesa 34.05% 321 326 111 1987 2007
31            Doug Jones 36.03% 303 494 178 1982 2000
32     Francisco Cordero 36.43% 329 280 102 1999 2012
33       Jeff Montgomery 37.62% 304 303 114 1987 1999


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/3/2014.

ETA: Based on BR PI Event Finder data, I had found in July that 56% of Lee Smith's IR were RISP, compared to 59% for Hoffman, 52% for Rivera, and 52% for Wagner.
   91. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:20 AM (#4784339)
What I never get is that the same folks who ding relievers because the role means low usage are perfectly happy to scale up catchers by 25 percent or whatever because they play 125 games a year instead of 155. Yes, it's a function of the position and you need a catcher; same thing with reliever usage. And just like relievers, teams often move talented catchers off the position so they can play more and contribute more (well for relievers it's mostly not converting them from starter, but it's the same decision). It seems totally analogous to me but one is taken for granted and the other is heresy.
   92. bobm Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:23 AM (#4784343)
[66]
#47 I researched how well Rivera pitched in the post-season compared to the other team's ace reliever in the same series. Rivera has a huge edge both in how much he pitched and how well.

To be specific, Rivera pitched 141 innings with an ERA of 0.70. The relief ace on the opposing teams combined to pitch 90.1 innings with an ERA of 3.69.

That's a very big deal.


Sure, but I'd think the more apt comparison would be: How did all closers do in the postseason during the two decades Rivera played?

Not that any analysis will find that Rivera's performance was not a major edge -- 0.70 ERA is 0.70 ERA -- but I suspect the gap is closer than 3.69.


Per BR, only half of Rivera's 141 postseason IP came in "save opportunities." Based on the league-total 441 postseason save opportunities (291 S, 84 BS, 38 BL, 28 BW) from 1995 to 2013, per BR PI:

        Closer     IP   ER  SV   ERA
        Others 439.66  200 249  4.09 
Mariano Rivera  71.33    7  42  0.88 

   93. bobm Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:31 AM (#4784344)
How often did Rivera get two inning saves in the post season? It feels like the Yankees would bring him in in the 8th in tight games regularly in the post season and he was nearly lights out. In the '09 series, I remember feeling that the Phils needed to take a lead or tie it by the 7th or the game was basically over.

14/42 saves of 2+ IP and 2/4 blown saves of 2+ IP (2004 alcs g4 and g5) and 5/8 wins.

   94. bobm Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:43 AM (#4784346)
[91] Among relievers, only Rivera and Wilhelm have as much WAR as Ted Simmons.

Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1901 to 2014, Played 50% of games at C, sorted by greatest WAR Position Players (top 10)

                                                                 
Rk            Player WAR/pos From   To   Age    G    PA       Pos
1       Johnny Bench    75.0 1967 1983 19-35 2158  8674 *253H/798
2        Gary Carter    69.9 1974 1992 20-38 2295  9019  *2H9/375
3     Ivan Rodriguez    68.4 1991 2011 19-39 2543 10270   *2H/D34
4       Carlton Fisk    68.3 1969 1993 21-45 2499  9853  *2DH/735
5        Mike Piazza    59.4 1992 2007 23-38 1912  7745    *2DH/3
6         Yogi Berra    59.3 1946 1965 21-40 2120  8359  *2H79/35
7        Bill Dickey    55.8 1928 1946 21-39 1789  7065      *2/H
8     Gabby Hartnett    53.4 1922 1941 21-40 1991  7297     *2H/3
9    Mickey Cochrane    52.1 1925 1937 22-34 1482  6207     *2/H7
10       Ted Simmons    50.1 1968 1988 18-38 2456  9685 *2DH3/759


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/3/2014.

Now, top 22 in WAR among pitchers in top 200 in saves has 10 pitchers with substantial numbers of games started.

                                                                  
Rk             Player  SV  WAR From   To   Age    G  GS  GF     IP
1         John Smoltz 154 66.5 1988 2009 21-42  723 481 204 3473.0
2    Dennis Eckersley 390 62.5 1975 1998 20-43 1071 361 577 3285.2
3      Mariano Rivera 652 56.6 1995 2013 25-43 1115  10 952 1283.2
4        Hoyt Wilhelm 227 50.1 1952 1972 29-49 1070  52 651 2254.1
5        Rich Gossage 310 41.8 1972 1994 20-42 1002  37 681 1809.1
6          Tom Gordon 158 34.9 1988 2009 20-41  890 203 347 2108.0
7          Derek Lowe  86 33.0 1997 2013 24-40  681 377 168 2671.1
8      Firpo Marberry  99 31.7 1923 1936 24-37  551 186 272 2067.1
9         John Hiller 125 31.2 1965 1980 22-37  545  43 363 1242.0
10       Ellis Kinder 102 31.0 1946 1957 31-42  484 122 255 1479.2
11          Lee Smith 478 29.4 1980 1997 22-39 1022   6 802 1289.1
12     Lindy McDaniel 172 28.7 1955 1975 19-39  987  74 577 2139.1
13     Trevor Hoffman 601 28.0 1993 2010 25-42 1035   0 856 1089.1
14       Billy Wagner 422 27.7 1995 2010 23-38  853   0 703  903.0
15       Turk Farrell  83 27.7 1956 1969 22-35  590 134 301 1704.2
16         Stu Miller 154 27.3 1952 1968 24-40  704  93 405 1693.1
17       Kent Tekulve 184 26.2 1974 1989 27-42 1050   0 638 1436.2
18         Joe Nathan 369 26.0 1999 2014 24-39  766  29 575  907.2
19     Rollie Fingers 341 25.0 1968 1985 21-38  944  37 709 1701.1
20           Ron Reed 103 25.0 1966 1984 23-41  751 236 300 2477.2
21    Dan Quisenberry 244 24.9 1979 1990 26-37  674   0 553 1043.1
22       Bruce Sutter 300 24.5 1976 1988 23-35  661   0 512 1042.0


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/3/2014.

NB: Smoltz had 7.4 WAR in his 4 years closing games (2001-2004). Eckersley had 16.8 WAR in his years as a closer (1987-1998)
   95. bobm Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:56 AM (#4784347)
How often did Hoffmam (sic) come in "early" with RISP before the 9th inning, as compared to coming in "late" after the starter (or another reliever) fell a bit short in the 9th, maybe only needing to get 1 or 2 outs with a runner on 1st? Context would matter here, especially if the number of inherited runners is low.

Here's my analysis as of mid 2010. Maybe I will update it tomorrow, but Hoffman and Rivera were pretty close in tight saves at that point.
   96. AROM Posted: September 03, 2014 at 10:01 AM (#4784431)
Who here would trade Strasburg for Betances straight up?


Sure, I'll take that one. I get 2 cheap years of Betances + 3 years of arbitration. You get Strasburg for 2 more years of (most likely) expensive arbitration deals.

If you aren't bringing contracts to the discussion, then forget it. Shocking fact: Betances is actually 3 months older than Strasburg.
   97. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: September 03, 2014 at 10:06 AM (#4784437)
Wagner was nearly as good as Rivera. In ERA+ (187 to 205), in save percentage (86% to 89%), but he only had 3/4 the innings.

Though WAR kills Wagner in the comparison. I'm not sure that WAR is of much use in evaluating relievers.


If you look at Wins Above Average: (200+ games 80% in relief)

1 Mariano Rivera 32.7
2 Hoyt Wilhelm 26.9
3 Billy Wagner 16.5
4 Rich Gossage 16.3
5 John Hiller 14.3
6 Joe Nathan 13.8
7 Trevor Hoffman 13.7
8 Lee Smith 13.7
9 Jonathan Papelbon 12.7
10 Tom Henke 11.9
11 Dan Quisenberry 11.9
12 Francisco Rodriguez 11.6
13 Keith Foulke 10.9
14 Bruce Sutter 10.8
15 Don McMahon 10.8
16 Kent Tekulve 10.6
17 John Franco 10.4
18 Steve Reed 9.9
19 Mark Eichhorn 9.6
20 Jesse Orosco 9.3

It's basically Mariano, big gap, Wilhelm, big gap, Wagner/Gossage rate wise, if Wagner could have gotten up around 1100-1200ip you'd see some separation between him and Gossage- closer to Wilhelm, but that didn't happen

I think the line should be drawn under Wilhelm, but that boat seems to have sailed
   98. tfbg9 Posted: September 03, 2014 at 10:55 AM (#4784473)
Ellis Kinder had 31 bWAR. Huh.
   99. PreservedFish Posted: September 03, 2014 at 11:02 AM (#4784481)
Sure, I'll take that one. I get 2 cheap years of Betances + 3 years of arbitration. You get Strasburg for 2 more years of (most likely) expensive arbitration deals.


At some point you have to win games, right? Not just the WAR/$ title.
   100. zonk Posted: September 03, 2014 at 11:28 AM (#4784497)
OK - I think I'm convinced that I should support Wagner over Hoffman... though, FWIW and right or wrong - I just tend to be more appreciative of long good careers rather than peak.

I'm probably in the minority - but I have no problem with Wagner AND Hoffman in the HoF. I wouldn't vote for him - but I'd also be fine if Lee Smith made it.

As I've said on virtually every HoF discussion - it peeves me a lot more when deserving players get locked out than it does when undeserving players sneak it. When it comes to the HoF, I'd much prefer to err on the side of inclusion than exclusion.

Of course... this brings up another question as we get to increased specialization.... Do LOOGYs one day become candidates? Setup men? Utility Guys? I guess that ultimately, at least for my lifetime - it seems like allowing for the position "Pitcher" to be broken up into Starter and Relievers, with relievers meaning solely closers (because even if you don't accept the paradigm that every reliever is a failed starter, I think we can all agree that closers are the 'best' relievers).

I'm fine with having an extremely high bar for relievers/closers relative to SPs... I wouldn't expect there to be more than 10 relievers in the HoF by the time I pass and the "best" number is probably somewhere in the 5-7 range.
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