It’s hard to believe that back in 1989, Trevor Hoffman was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 11th round of the amateur draft. Now it’s the beginning of 2011 and 601 saves later he’s retiring as the greatest closer we possibly ever did see.
What made Hoffman wasn’t a fastball that was triple digits, but rather a changeup that would keep hitters honest in the box.
Hoffman’s changeup was often 14-15 mph slower than his fastball but thrown with the same motion and arm speed. It then had a precipitous drop to the ground — movement created by the pitch’s backspin that was so severe his change fell as much as many pitchers’ curveballs. As Hoffman’s 90-91 mph fastball later slowed to 87-88, his changeup kept the same spread, slowing in sync from about 76 to about 73.
A dominant commodity across generations, you wonder who could be the next Trevor Hoffman. Than all at the same time if you’re sensible about it–you wonder if you ever see another Trevor Hoffman.
Trevor Hoffman’s lifetime statistics [Baseball Reference]