By Jerry Del Priore
On Wednesday, at 6:00 p.m. ET, Major League Baseball will announce its 2017 Hall of Fame class.
One name creating a measure of HOF consideration, and speculation, is former All-Star closer Trevor Hoffman, who is on the ballot for the second year (he received 296 votes, 67.3 percent of the casted ballots in 2016, with 75 percent granting eligibility).
It seems what HOF voters struggle with the most is enshrining closers with baseball’s highest honor. The game’s traditionalists don’t view a modern-day fireman’s role of coming in at the end of the game for just one inning, regardless of the success rate, that it warrants a spot in the Hall.
As proof, only five are currently honored with plaques in Cooperstown, all of which also started some of their time in the majors.
Furthermore, some media and fans alike don’t view Hoffman as dominate a closer as Hall Famer Bruce Sutter and sure-fire, future honoree Mariano Rivera.
Perhaps playing most of his career on the Westcoast with the San Diego Padres limited his visibility?
However, the facts remain as this: Hoffman, a shortstop in high school, college, and early in the minors, saved 601 games—second all-time—converting nearly 89 percent of his opportunities (Baseballreference.com).
The “Hells Bells” reliever may be hurt by his lackluster performance in the 1998 World Series against the New York Yankees.
But the former San Diego Padre was one of the most reliable closers during his era, one marred by enhanced PED sluggers (and yes, some pitchers did use as well, but more hitters partook, if one had to guess).
Hoffman, who had one of his kidneys removed at six weeks old due to an arterial blockage, shouldn’t worry. The 49-year-old Bellflower, Calif., native possessed one of the best changeups in baseball history, and should get the requisite votes this year, many baseball insiders believe.
In fact, ESPN has 17 voters particpating this year, and they have him in at 76.5 percent.
If not, with his strong voter support last year, he has enough time to gain HOF access in the next few years.
Only time will tell, though.