Trevor Hoffman has missed out on election to Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame.
The GB bullpen coach fell just one per cent, or five votes short of being inducted — one of the narrowest margins in history. His election in the 2018 class will be a formality after he increased his share of the vote by seven per cent year on year.
Trevor Hoffman pitching at the World Baseball Classic Qualifier. Credit: Paul Stodart
The three elections this year are Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines (both 86 per cent) and Ivan ‘Pudge’ Rodriguez (76 per cent) — only the second catcher in history to be elected at the first attempt.
Hoffman will eventually become only the seventh relief pitcher to be inducted into baseball's most prestigious club. Two of the existing members, John Smoltz and Dennis Eckersley were both starting pitchers and relievers and only one, Bruce Sutter, was a reliever throughout his career.
No closer has been elected since Goose Gossage in 2008, and only one, Rollie Fingers was elected within the first two years of eligibility. In addition, only five other players have missed the cut by one per cent or less: Craig Biggio, Bert Blyleven, Jim Bunning, Jimmy Williams and Nellie Fox.
Vladimir Guerrero, widely expected to be a first round addition, finished with 72 per cent of the vote. Nine players received 50 per cent or more, including Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. No player who has achieved at least 50 per cent of the vote in the first round has failed to be subsequently elected. Hoffman received 67 per cent in his first year of eligibility in 2016.
75 per cent of respondents on a poll on GB Baseball’s Twitter page predicted he would be elected.
Hoffman was characteristically generous and optimistic on Twitter, paying tribute to the elected players while humbly looking forward to his own potential addition to Cooperstown.
To be a Hall of Famer in our game. For me, falling short of this class is disappointing, but I don't take being on the ballot lightly...— Trevor Hoffman (@THoffman51) January 19, 2017
I hope to one day soon share a Hall of Fame celebration with my family, friends, teammates and all of San Diego.— Trevor Hoffman (@THoffman51) January 19, 2017
The news will come as no surprise to Hoffman, having recently told MLB.com: “It’s going to be a couple of percentage points either way. It’s going to be a little nerve-racking, no doubt about it.”
Despite the temporary omission, it will take a lot more to unsettle him. Hoffman is, after all, scarcely lacking in accolades: 601 career saves, second on the all-time list; nine seasons with at least 40 saves; seven All-Star appearances; 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings; the eighth-best all-time ERA (2.87), second best WHIP (1.06) and best strikeout rate (25.8 per cent) among relievers with 1000+ innings; and perhaps most tellingly, a pitching award named in his honour,
Commenting on the news, Hoffman told GB Baseball: "To all my contacts and the fans across the pond: I appreciate the enthusiasm and excitement surrounding the Hall of Fame vote. Representing the Union Jack in Brooklyn for my mum's side of the family was truly an honour. The staff, led by Liam Carroll is only going to continue to get stronger."
Hoffman was the bullpen coach for Great Britain during their World Baseball Classic Qualifier in New York in September last year, much to the delight of staff, players and fans foreign and domestic.
He added that he hoped to see MLB action soon in the UK, referring to renewed speculation about a Major League series coming to London as soon as next year.