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2007 Player Rankings: Let the Games Begin
by Asher B. Chancey,
May 16, 2007

I went to the website in early May, and my sensitivities drew temporary offense to the plug for All-Star Game voting. Really? All-Star Game voting? In early May?

While I apparently feel that All-Star Game voting should not be conducted until late May or early June, I do feel that it is never too early to begin pondering’s All-Star Weekend tradition – the unveiling of our staff player rankings.

Each year, we unveil our Top 100/200 lists, which we hope reflect three things – a) a year’s worth of fresh contemplation and consideration; b) the changes that our lists inevitably incur as current players continue to develop, age, retire, and (perhaps least importantly) become exposed for various abuses of performance enhancing drugs; and c) the ever evolving way in which each of us views the game of baseball and the importance of its respective elements.

If I may pause here, at least one of us also takes into consideration more obscure items, like the exploits of super-dominant exposition softball pitchers who fared pretty well against baseball legends of the 1960 and 1970s. But I digress.

With the beginning of each season of Top 100 list compilation comes an inevitable amount of trash talking about players who rank particularly high upon one list but not another. Past subjects of ridicule have included Reggie Smith, Bob Johnson and Kevin Brown (Keith); Bobby Doerr, Andre Dawson, and Charlie Gehringer (me); Carl Yastrzemski and Satchel Paige (Scott); Mariano Rivera and Roberto Clemente (Tony); and Ken Griffey, Jr., Roy Campanella, and Cy Young (Rich).

With all that said, I would like officially kick off Player Ranking Season by firing the first shot across the bow at one of my fellow staff members.

Keith, this first one’s for you:

In an article from May of 2005, Keith wrote the following:

"Trevor [Hoffman] is pitching as well as ever, and another couple of years at this level will place him among the 10 best relievers of all-time."

Presumably, the literal present-day effect of this statement is, "Since Hoffman continued to pitch well from May 2005, when Keith wrote this, until May 2007, which is now, Hoffman only just now has become worthy of being considered among the 10 best relievers of all time."

I personally consider Hoffman to be the third best reliever of all time, and second best non-Wilhelm reliever behind Mariano Rivera. But what do I know? Besides, disagreements between Keith and me are common. So lets go to the Top 200s, which were published in the summer of 2006. Presumably, Hoffman will not be in the top 10 relievers, since it had not yet been two years (barely even one) since May 2005 at that point:

Relief Pitchers in Keith's Top 200:

Hoyt Wilhelm – 51
Mariano Rivera – 100
Dennis Eckersley – 200

Well, Keith’s Top 200 only covered three relievers, and T-Hoff was not one of them. So, the question is . . . how far out of the Top 200 does T-Hoff fall? And does Keith still consider Eckersley better than Hoffman? And, are there really five more relievers between Eckersley and T-Hoff?

Inquiring minds want to know!

For the record:

Relief Pitchers in Scott's Top 200:

Hoyt Wilhelm – 86
Mariano Rivera – 106
Dennis Eckersley – 133
Trevor Hoffman – 182

Relief Pitchers in Asher's Top 200:

Hoyt Wilhelm – 103
Mariano Rivera – 132
Dennis Eckersley – 148
Dan Quisenberry - 177 (wow)
Trevor Hoffman – 192

Relief Pitchers in Tony's Top 100:

Hoyt Wilhelm – 87
Mariano Rivera – 88

Relief Pitchers in Rich's Top 100:

Dennis Eckersley – 89

So, where will Trevor Hoffman rank on Keith’s 2007 list, if at all? Does Hoffman, who is now the all time leader in saves, is approaching his 500th save, has an ERA+ of 148, and appears to still be motoring along, merely rate a spot in the Top 10 relievers, but not among the three or four best of all time? We will have to wait until the 2007 All Star Break to find out.

Unless, of course, Keith would like to fashion a reply.

Questions? Concerns? Comments? Asher lives in Philadelphia, PA, and can be reached at