Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Trevor Hoffman: An appreciation

I'll admit I was skeptical of Trevor Hoffman as a fantasy closer entering this season. I was worried about his advanced age, his decline in recent years and his move away from the friendly confines of Petco Park.

Silly me. I shouldn't have hassled The Hoff. He has been simply lights out this season for the Brewers, his new club. So far he's a perfect 11-for-11 in saves with a 0.00 ERA and 10 Ks in 13 innings. He's been a brilliant pickup, both for surprising Milwaukee and for fantasy squads.

Hoffman somehow slipped through the cracks on draft day in my 10-team league, mostly because he started the season with an oblique injury that kept him on the DL. I had some early hiccups in my closer situation, and I even briefly used Carlos Villanueva, Hoffman's early-season fill-in with the Brewers, for a couple saves before I'd seen enough. Then I heard some encouraging news about Hoffman's rehab progress at the start of April and figured what the heck, why not pick up the old guy, stick him in one of my DL slots and give him a shot? Turned out to be one of my best moves so far in a season that unfortunately hasn't included many.

So, can Hoffman keep this up? I don't see him getting the 60 saves he's on pace for, nor do I expect the ERA to remain at zero. And while last year's stats indicated Hoffman was on the decline, that simply means he is no longer the top-of-the-line fantasy commodity he once was. He still went 30-for-34 in save opportunities in 2008 and struck out just about a batter an inning, along with an acceptable 3.77 ERA. It certainly seems like he can at least duplicate those stats this year, and he'll probably better them, provided he stays healthy (the oblique shouldn't be a recurring problem) and the Brewers remain in contention (no reason they can't). If you got him on the cheap like I did, give yourself a pat on the back and watch the saves keep rolling in.

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