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Tale of the Tape: Sandman vs. Hell's Bells

In response to my post about Trevor Hoffman -- I argued that he should stop at 600 saves -- The Captain's Blogger dispatched this missive:

    Interesting monk-like advice for Hoffman. I wonder how important it is for him to stay ahead of Mariano, though. In my blog, I posted a "tale of the tape" comparing them, and there's really no comparison. There have been lots of references to Hoffman and Mariano having similar cases for the Hall of Fame, but I think they aren't even in the same category. What do you think?

    - William (New York, New York)

Well, they're both closers with huge numbers of saves, so it's pretty hard to keep them from being considered in the same category by almost everybody who follows the game. Like it or not, when people think about relief pitchers they think about saves and almost nothing else.

So I'm afraid you're in for a fair bit of windmill-tilting, William.

Which doesn't mean you shouldn't keep at it. Because you're right, Rivera's been significantly more valuable than Hoffman ... and the statistics you presented don't include postseason play, which would of course tip the scales even further.

None of this means that Trevor Hoffman hasn't been a great pitcher. Jimmie Foxx was great; Lou Gehrig was greater. Roberto Clemente was great; Frank Robinson was greater. George Brett was great; Mike Schmidt was greater.

By the established standards of the Hall of Fame, Trevor Hoffman belongs there. But if there wasn't a single relief pitcher already in the Hall of Fame, Mariano Rivera would deserve to be the first.

That's the difference between them, and it's fair to occasionally mention it.