Last night, Trevor Hoffman recorded his 600th save in the Brewers 4-2 victory over the slumping Cardinals. In addition to being the first man to reach the 600 save plateau, Hoffman also extended his record holding margin to 45 saves over Mariano Rivera. In reality, however, the two relievers are really miles apart.
While Hoffman is winding down his long career, Rivera is still going strong (his current ERA+ of 377 would be the best of his career), so it seems likely that the Yankees’ Sandman will eventually take over as the all-time saves leader. At the age of 40, however, nothing is guaranteed for Rivera, so each save that Hoffman tacks on could very well strengthen his grip on the record (even though Rob Neyer thinks he should settle on a nice round number). None of that really matters though. Mariano Rivera is the best reliever of all time and a clear cut first ballot Hall of Famer. Although a borderline candidate for the Hall of Fame himself, Hoffman is simply not in the same class.
As illustrated in the “tale of the tape” below, a comparison of Hoffman and Rivera is quite a mismatch. It’s fine to use Hoffman’s milestone achievement as a starting point for discussion about his Hall of Fame merits, but Mariano Rivera’s name would be best left out of that conversation. There really is no comparison. As Sparky Anderson might say, “you don’t ever compare anybody to Mariano Rivera. Don’t never embarrass nobody by comparing them to Mariano Rivera”.
Source: Baseball-reference.com and fangraphs.com