The Greatest Closer Of The 1990’s/2000’s

…is not Mariano Rivera.  It is Trevor Hoffman.  I am not saying this because of Hoffman’s save record.  Saves, while the statistic that closers are generally measured by, is not representive of a closer’s performance, because the closers’ teammates drastically effect the number of save opportunities a closer gets, which to a certain extent determines the number of saves recorded.  Rivera was at the top of this luck, while Hoffman was near the bottom, I am not saying that Rivera would have been an average closer on a different team, I am simply saying that Hoffman was better.

  • During his career, teams with Trevor Hoffman have gone a combined 1258-1365.  Hoffman has saved 575 (46%) of his teams’ wins.
  • During his career, teams with Mariano Rivera have gone a combined 1225-807.  Rivera has saved 508 (41%) of his teams’ wins.

Mariano Rivera is acclaimed for winning championships, he won them as a cog in the Yankee Machine.  Trevor Hoffman was the pitching soul of the Friars, just as Tony Gwynn was their hitting soul, he didn’t win a title, but he drove a losing team.  Mariano Rivera has the legacy, but Trevor Hoffman has the soul.  For what he has done with mediocre teams, trumps what Mariano has done with a New York dynasty.  Trevor Hoffman is the greatest of his generation.


  1. santosis

    By any metric that assess performance, Rivera is leagues ahead of Hoffman. In fact, if one trusts ERA+ as a metric, than Rivera is the greatest pitcher in his era of any pitcher in the history of baseball. And second place isn’t even close. Rivera is also 16th all-time in ERA (Hoffman is 88th) and 3rd in WHIP (Hoffman is 5th).

    In fact, I would argue that playing for the Yankees hurt Rivera’s numbers, since his team wins more games in non-save situations, thus giving Hoffman more chances.

    They are both great closers, and it pains me to say this as a Red Sox fan, but Rivera is the greatest closer of all-time by a ridiculous margin.

    • paintingtheblack

      All- I admit I came up with a very flawed argument for Hoffman. Rivera probably is the better pitcher. I guess bad arguments are a by-product of a yankee-hating mood. 🙂

  2. jbucky007

    I totally disagree. Rivera has a way better ERA, a better WHIP and a better record. Also the stats used in your argument are totally irrelevant.

  3. popejonash

    I also disagree that Hoffman is the best. Rivera is head and shoulders above ANY other closer in history.To pick up on the point made by Santosis about non-save chances and blowouts, since 1996 the Yankees have won 445 games by 5 runs or more.By comparison, the Padres have won 270 games by 5 or more runs in that same period. The numbers sadly aren’t even close. Santosis was spot on – Mo wins be a ‘ridiculous margin’ Ash

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