The Milwaukee Brewers are again attempting to sure-up the closer position by bringing in an aging, established closer. Gone is Salomon Torres after he replaced the ineffective Eric Gagne. Last year, the Brewers blew 26 saves (ironically the same amount as Hoffman’s former team the Padres), so they brought in the all-time saves leader to try to shore-up the backend of the bullpen. Trevor Hoffman had one of his worst seasons since taking over the closer role in San Diego. He recorded his highest ERA since 1995, his lowest save total (other than 2003 when he only pitched in 9 games) since 1994, his lowest innings total of his career other than 2003, etc.
Trevor Hoffman’s statistics do not look that bad at first glance. Yes, his FIP of 3.99 was high, but he posted a 2.94 the year before. In fact over the last five years, Hoffman has averaged 55.6 IP with a FIP of 3.13. He also has been at about one strikeout per inning every year. While he does not pile up the Ks, he also does not beat himself with walks. Age is a big issue with Hoffman, but the bigger issue to me is how a flyball-pitcher will translate away from the friendly confines of Petco Park. The following is Hoffman’s FIP in Petco (pFIP), converted to a neutral park (nFIP), and in Miller Park (mFIP).
As you can see, leaving Miller Park definitely hurts Hoffman’s effectiveness. Throwing in his advancing age, it would not seem out of line to expect a FIP of 4.5 or higher. Bill James (of course), Marcels, and CHONE are a bit more optimistic about Hoffman’s future than I am with FIPs of 3.24, 4.00, and 4.18. My expectations are over a quarter of a run higher than Salomon Torres’s FIP from last year (4.22). If he essentially repeats what Torres did last year, then he is definitely worth a draft pick. He is not, however, worthy of being considered anywhere near an “elite” closer or a must-draft. I would also be wary because who knows how well his arm will hold up with his advancing age.