For Whom The Bells Will Toll

Just a week ago the closers market brimmed with names like Francisco Rodriguez, Kerry Wood, and J.J. Putz. As you’re well aware, each of those are now off the market, leaving Brian Fuentes as the cream of the remaining crop, and a ton of rejuvenation projects abound. Then there’s Trevor Hoffman. A pending divorce settlement and encompassing money woes have left Hoffman separated from San Diego, a place where Hoffman is lionized as one of the great closers in modern history. Decorated with scoreboard graphics and an unforgettable entrance, Hoffman painted most of his dominance in San Diego over the last 15 seasons.

Hoffman is now 41 years old and coming off a season that many will characterize as disappointing. A 3.99 FIP is essentially a full run higher than Hoffman’s career FIP, with the culprit being 1.59 homeruns per nine innings and a 13.8 HR/FB%, more than twice his career 6.2%. Few will notice Hoffman’s 9.13 strikeouts per nine or 1.79 walks per nine, when taken together become a 5.11 K/BB ratio, the highest for Hoffman since 2004. It doesn’t appear Hoffman’s velocity or usage was altered either, still sitting around 86 on his fastball, 81 on his slider, and 74 on his change.

It would be easy to draw the comparison to Hoffman’s 2001, which had similar characteristics in homeruns, strikeouts, and FIP, but little stands to be gained. Hoffman’s more recent seasons indicate he’s still quite capable of pitching well, just as the decreased flyballs yet increased homerun percentage should indicate the homerun totals as fluke. The problem, however, is that Hoffman will no longer spend half of his games at Petco Park. It’s also important to note that while Hoffman pitched better on the road than at home last season, it’s in no way indicative of how Hoffman will fare elsewhere.

Marcels has Hoffman pitching 53 innings with a 4 FIP, making him an asset worth acquiring, especially on the cheap. With potential suitors like the Indians and Mets looking elsewhere, it seems conceivable that Hoffman could land in Detroit. At least we know he’s better than Todd Jones.

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