We at Sox and Dawgs decided to start taking a look at some current players to see if they could gain election to Hall of Fame. In this series, we’re going to look at players who are currently active who have reasonable consideration to be a Hall nominee. This isn’t a science and you may have others on your list that we left off. There are some fine young players who are just starting their careers who may have Hall potential but for arguments sake these are for guys who have been around a bit or those few outstanding younger players who just jump off the page at you.

In this series we’re going to look at the players by position as compared to Hall members of that position. The position is the primary position of the player through his career. If he played a significant amount of games in another position that will be listed next to his name. Some of the guys we will look at over time have endured position changes, but because the majority of their career was at one position over another we have chosen that as the position in which they are being considered.

The first category we will look at is relief pitchers or closers.

The closer over the last 30 years has become an integral part of every team’s make up. Prior to the mid-70’s the closer wasn’t even a specialist. In the 90’s and early 2000’s we have seen the development of the set up man. At some point the value of the set up man will be argued like the value of the closer and some of those pitchers may eventually become Hall worthy.

The Baseball Hall of Fame has three closers enshrined. They are:

Rollie Fingers 17 years, 114-118, 341 saves, 2.90 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 492 BB, 1299 K
7 all-star teams, 1 MVP, 1 Cy Young, 1 World Series MVP, 4 time Rolaids reliever of the year, 3 time save leader, 10 post season saves

Bruce Sutter 12 years, 68-71, 300 saves, 2.83 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 309 BB, 861 K 6-time all-star, 4 time Rolaids reliever of the year, 1 Cy Young, 5 time save leader, 3 post season saves

Dennis Eckersley 24 years, 197-171, 390 saves, 3.50 ERA, 1.16 WHIP,
738 BB, 2401 K, 6 all-star teams, 1 MVP, 1 CY Young, 1 ALCS MVP, 2 time Rolaids reliever of the year, 2 time save leader, 15 post season saves

We have three possible candidates for the Hall:

Their stats are current as of June 23, 2007

Mariano Rivera 13th year, 61-43, 422 saves, 2.35 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 231 BB, 810 K
8 time all-star, 4 time Rolaids reliever of the year, 1 ALCS MVP, 1 World Series MVP, 3 time save leader, 34 post season saves

Trevor Hoffman 15th year, 51-58, 501 saves, 2.70 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 256 BB, 982 K
5 time all-star, 2 time Rolaids reliever of the year, 2 time save leader, all-time save leader, 4 post season saves

Billy Wagner 13th year, 37-34, 339 saves, 2.37 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 246 BB, 973 K
4 time all-star, 1 Rolaids reliever of the year, 3 post season saves

Mariano and Trevor are locks. They have been the two most dominant closers of this era and their numbers almost mirror each other.

Hoffman is the all-time save leader and Rivera has more post season shut downs than any one else. I think as closers become more accepted as Hall candidates they’re going to need to have 400+ saves to get in and probably in the 350-375 save range to be considered. With that said Billy Wagner is a borderline candidate. Yes his numbers compare favorably to the three closers who are already enshrined but my favorite saying is compare him to his peers. And when you compare Wagner to Hoffman and Rivera he’s close but just short in my opinion although he has great bb/k numbers, ERA and WHIP.

But, that’s now. If Billy pitches another 2 seasons after this one (he’s 35 now) he is easily in that 375 save range and possibly closer to the 400 saves that may become the magic number much like 300 wins. I think without the great post season numbers of Rivera and the great save numbers of both Hoffman and Rivera, Wagner will need another two years to lock up his spot.