Former Cedar Rapids Reds pitcher Trevor Hoffman — whose 601 major-league saves are second only to Mariano Rivera’s 652 — fell short of election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
Although he has nine more shots at being elected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, Hoffman may not need more than one more year to become the eighth former Midwest Leaguer to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player. His name was checked off on 296 of 440 ballots — 67.3 percent of them — falling only 34 votes short of the 75 percent needed for election.
Hoffman potentially could be part of a historic induction class next year. Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines also fell short this year, but were closer to election than Hoffman was, and two strong candidates — Vladimir Guerrero and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez — join the ballot for 2017. (Manny Ramirez also joins the ballot, but it’s fair to assume he will end up in the same election limbo currently occupied by the likes of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.)
Originally a shortstop and third baseman, Hoffman was converted to a pitcher in 1991 and promptly assigned to the Midwest League. He made 27 relief appearances for Cedar Rapids, posting a 1.87 ERA, 12 saves and 52 strikeouts in 33.2 innings before being promoted to Double-A.
Two other former Midwest League players received votes in this year’s Hall of Fame election. Edgar Martinez received 191 votes (43.4 percent) in his seventh year on the ballot, while first-timer Billy Wagner got 46 votes (10.5 percent).
Martinez batted .303 with 15 HR and 66 RBI in 126 games with the 1984 Wausau Timbers. Wagner went 8-9 with a 3.29 ERA and 204 strikeouts in 153 innings (26 starts) for the 1994 Quad City River Bandits.