Earlier this year, Alex Rodriguez became the youngest player to hit 600 home runs and added his name to a short list of what many consider to be baseball’s most revered batting statistic. Now imagine being the only one to ever reach what will be one of baseball’s most elusive clubs, even more elusive than the 600 home run club. Tuesday night Trevor Hoffman created his own 600 club, the 600 saves club.
The path to 600 saves has become bittersweet this season for Hoffman.
Hoffman, already the all-time leader in the statistic, has struggled this season. The 42-year-old lost his job as a closer due to a long string of rough outings. Hoffman started off the season with an ERA of over 11 through his first 18 appearances. He was then demoted. Being demoted isn’t easy for anyone, but when you are the greatest closer of all time, you might think that it would push Hoffman out of the game for good at his age.
Trevor Hoffman has always been regarded as one the games most well-liked guys, and the actions he took after losing his role as the Milwaukee Brewers closer is the perfect testament to his character. Rather than hang up his cleats and call it quits, or choose to challenge management’s decision, Hoffman made the best of it, by taking his new replacement, rookie John Axford, under his wing and sharing his knowledge of the game. Hoffman even worked his way back out of his pitching slump by working middle relief when the opportunity was presented.
Hoffman has continued to work hard and climbed back to his familiar un-hittable self over the last 30 games, lowering his ERA to near his career average in the mid 2.0s.
Tuesday against the St. Louis Cardinals it was the mentor that got help from the student as Axford became Hoffman’s setup man. Axford got the hold by retiring two batters in the eighth and the stage was set for the man who had showed him the ropes.
Hoffman gave up just one hit in the ninth inning to carve his name just a bit deeper into baseball history. The team celebrated as if they’d won the pennant, hoisting Hoffman onto their shoulders as he tipped his cap to the cheering fans.
This season may have been filled with ups and downs for Hoffman, but it looks as if this future Hall of Famer will end his career on top.