It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Want to Rock and Roll)
Soooo, anything that might be classified as important or historic regarding San Diego sports happening this week? Did Eric Hosmer finally make a decision?
Well, I guess we can talk about Trevor Hoffman and the National Baseball Hall of Fame. I suppose that’ll have to do for my first post here on The Kept Faith.
After three years of excruciating debate among Padres fans on how much the Baseball Writers Association of America are just a hot mess of biased and horrible, Hoffman was named to the Hall of Fame’s 2018 class, along with Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, and Jim Thome.
Of the 422 ballots cast by eligible BBWAA members, Hoffman had his name checked on 337, or 79.9%. Ryan Thibodaux‘s public ballot tracker had him named on 78.6% when all was said and done. I found it interesting given that most — if not all — candidates’ percentages have dropped once the non-public ones are tallied.
The worst part of this year’s Hall of Fame vote was, surprisingly, having to wait most of Wednesday for the results to be announced. I completely forgot that MLB Network has a special show to reveal the new inductees, mostly because I don’t have MLB Network. I also suppose that having Hoffman pretty much guaranteed not to get in by the time this day came the two years before contributed to my forgetting about the show.
I half-expected to wake up Wednesday morning to find Twitter on fire, alight with the hot takes of all those former eggmen who seem to only come out of their hidey holes when something goes terribly wrong. It wasn’t until the Padres tweeted this at 9am that I realized and remembered that (of course) I would have to wait until that television ratings window opened up, so I still had a little time to get into my fireproof underwear.
Unlike the two years earlier, Padres Twitter didn’t go apes**t over BBWAA voters who didn’t vote for Hoffman (For the most part. Keith Law is probably still getting trolled hard). Perhaps that was because a greater percentage of writers publicly included Trevor on their ballots than the previous two years. Or perhaps the voters decided to not put up with Padres Twitter’s s**t anymore. Or maybe Padres Twitter has mellowed over time.*
*It’s totally not that last one. Padres Twitter is still an overall garbage/tire fire of mis/uninformed hot takes and anger that isn’t going to change anytime soon. It’s probably just that I have a majority of the worst of Padres Twitter muted.
Let’s be honest here. If you actually read some of these arguments against Hoffman for the Hall, a lot of them make sense. We’re all too close to the situation as Padres fans to notice, though. Give a read to these portions of the Sporting News’ Ryan Fagan’s arguments against checking Hoffman’s name:
Look at it this way: Mickey Mantle is 18th in MLB history in home runs (536). Tony Gwynn and Nap Lajoie are tied for 18th in MLB history in batting average (.338). Lou Gehrig is 18th in MLB history in WAR (112.4). Know who’s 18th in MLB history in saves? It’s Jose Mesa. Yeah. Fine closer, sure, but Mesa is no Mantle/Gwynn/Lajoie/Gehrig in terms of being an all-time MLB regardless-of-position great player. Saves should not have the same place in MLB history as other counting stats. Can we please stop saying misleading things like “But Hoffman is second in MLB history in saves!” and start putting that in its proper context, like this: “Hoffman has the second-most saves since Dennis and Bobby helped revolutionize the way closers were used. Y’know, since the late 1980s.
Hoffman was great at one thing: Recording a ton of one-inning saves every year for a long time. Of his 601 career saves, only 55 of those required four or more outs. Yikes, right? That’s tied for 73rd all-time, with Ron Kline, Dan Plesac, Ellis Kinder and Keith Foulke. Is it his fault that he came up in the era of super-specialized one-inning closers (Hoffman had 1,035 career appearances and pitched 1,089 1/3 innings)? Of course not. He did the job that was asked of him, and he did it very well for a really long time. And remember that he was so good for so long even as his abilities changed, as he lost the zip on his fastball and he had to rely fully on a changeup that baffled hitters. Maybe with his stuff and his often-aching shoulder, if he’d made his debut 15 years earlier, Hoffman wouldn’t have been able to save 601 games in his career, but he did. That’s what counts. Among those 41 guys with at least 225 saves, Hoffman is fifth in save percentage (behind Kimbrel, Nathan, Jansen and Rivera). There’s no doubt he’s one of the best closers of the past three decades. But is that enough to get him in the Hall of Fame, in a game that stretches back to the 1870s?
I see where Fagan — and most others — get their arguments from. Mostly because I actually read their reasoning instead of just blindly throwing fire tweets at them for not putting Hoffman on their ballot. And Fagan was probably smart to not reveal his ballot until the day of the announcement, too.
Now, three years isn’t all that long to have to wait in the big scheme of things. Would it have been nice to see Trevor get in his first year on the ballot? Of course. But, let’s be honest, that wasn’t likely to happen, even if Ken Griffey Jr wasn’t on the ballot. And the 2017 class, while more likely, probably wasn’t going to happen either. However, his numbers went up from 2016 and he ended up just a handful of votes shy, so 2018 was looking really good. At least we weren’t going to have to be subjected to something like Jonah Keri’s and Montreal Expos fans’ aggravating wait of 10 years to finally have Tim Raines get in. And I feel sorry for fans of the Seattle Mariners and Edgar Martinez, who get to wait yet another year for the writers to pull their heads out of their asses. But that’s a topic for a different time.
Now that Hoffman is in, however, Padres Twitter will need something else to latch on to and complain about. And I think I’ve found the perfect thing for us all to rally around…
He's going in as a Marlin.
— Ghost of Ray Kroc (@GhostofRAK) January 24, 2018
Have fun with that. But don’t @ me.
By the way, I’ve been invited to and have now joined up with The Kept Faith. For those of you who may be unaware, you can read my other things on PadresPublic.com, where I’ll still be doing stuff for the immediate future while figuring out how to divvy up my #brand on both websites, But you can always follow me on Twitter — where I will continue to make a fool of myself — and Facebook — where I rarely do.