Hoffman: Closing The Door

The San Diego Padres acquired relief pitcher Trevor Hoffman from the Florida Marlins on June 24, 1993, for Gary Sheffield and Rich Rodriguez (no, not that one).

Hoffman had pitched 35.2 innings for Florida before becoming a Padre for life that summer. All he did after that for San Diego was pitch 952.1 innings en route to becoming the all-time leader in saves. Hoffman finished with 601 career closures (552 for the Fathers), averaged more than one strikeout per inning — 1,133 Ks in 1,089.1 IP — and finished with a sterling 2.87 career ERA and downright nasty 1.06 career WHIP.

I was 11 years old when I started watching Hoffman slam the door shut, and there may never have been a change-up more effective in the history of the game. His 88.8% save conversion rate ranks him sixth all-time.

While he is the current all-time saves leader, Hoffman will likely cough up one final lead when Mariano Rivera surpasses him sometime in the near future, maybe even this season (Mo needs 43 to top Hoffman). But he was the first closer to reach 500 and 600 saves, and no one can ever take that away from him.

What is more impressive than his all-time great numbers is the type of person he has been. Whether it was gameday preperation, handling failure, interacting with fans, answering to the media or mentoring young players, Hoffman is a clear-cut first-ballot Hall of Famer as a player and person.

Mothership baseball writer (and former Athlon Sports contributor) Buster Olney collected some stories about "Trev" that illustrate just how great he was — on and off the field.

So here is one final tip of the cap to you sir. You gave 'em Hells Bells.

Taxonomy upgrade extras: