Mr. 600: Trevor Hoffman in a World of His Own
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It took a little over three years, but Trevor Hoffman reached yet another plateau in his already Hall of Fame career on Tuesday: his 600th career save.
On June 6, 2007, Hoffman recorded his 500th career save as the San Diego Padres defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers. That save put Hoffman into uncharted territory. Never before had any man recorded 500 saves.
Though many believe that Mariano Rivera is the best closer of all time, Hoffman will always be the man who got to 500 before anyone else.
Well, after Tuesday, he will also be known as the man who got to 600 saves before anyone as well. Hoffman, now closing games (albeit part-time) with the Milwaukee Brewers, recorded his 600th career save against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Arguments have been made that the save is an "overrated stat." Granted, the save is a relatively new statistic to the game of baseball—it was introduced to the game during the late '60s.
To put it into perspective, Lee Smith ended his career with 478 saves, good for third all-time. But in 18 seasons, which is how long Hoffman's career has been, Smith threw roughly 200 more innings than Hoffman.
In 1991, Smith led all of baseball with 47 saves. In that season, he logged 73 innings pitched. In 1998, Hoffman led all of baseball with 53 saves, and he too pitched 73 innings.
But regardless of how "meaningless" the stat may be, Hoffman has reached a milestone; a benchmark that no one in the long and glorious history of baseball has ever reached. That feat alone should already cause Cooperstown to begin clearing room for his plaque.
Of his now 600 saves, the majority came while he was a member of the Padres. While playing in San Diego, Hoffman closed out 552 games. He began his career as a Florida Marlin and saved two games for them. Hoffman has saved 46 games since joining the Brew Crew prior to the 2009 season.
Now that he is almost 43-years old, Hoffman has seen his productivity decline and is now sharing the closing duties with the up-and-coming John Axford.
Hoffman is the all-time leader in saves. He has cleared hurdle after hurdle and has built himself quite a career. Of course, he is still missing that mystical World Series ring.
So will this be his last season? Is recording 600 saves enough for the right-hander? Or does he have the hunger to keep going?
Either way, rest assured that Hoffman will soon be joining Rollie Fingers, Dennis Eckersley, Goose Gossage, and Bruce Sutter as closers enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
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