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Hoffman hoping for good news from Hall

Voting results announced Wednesday at 3 p.m. PT on MLB Network
MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN DIEGO -- Regarding his candidacy for the Hall of Fame, Trevor Hoffman put a simple yet impossible task in front of himself this year.

"I'm trying to be 1 percent better," quipped the legendary Padres closer, summing up his third shot at induction rather succinctly.

SAN DIEGO -- Regarding his candidacy for the Hall of Fame, Trevor Hoffman put a simple yet impossible task in front of himself this year.

"I'm trying to be 1 percent better," quipped the legendary Padres closer, summing up his third shot at induction rather succinctly.

Hoffman, after all, received 74 percent of the vote from the Baseball Writers' Association of America last year. He finished five votes shy of the 75 percent threshold necessary for election to the Hall of Fame. When this year's results are unveiled, he merely needs to gain one percentage point for enshrinement in Cooperstown.

Live coverage of the 2018 Hall of Fame announcement begins Wednesday at noon PT on MLB Network, simulcast live on MLB.com, with the electees named at 3 p.m.

Then again, it's not as though Hoffman himself has any control over that final percentage point. His career, unquestionably one of the best in MLB history for a relief pitcher, ended seven seasons ago. His resume -- which features 18 Major League seasons, a 2.87 ERA and 601 saves -- hasn't changed in the interim.

"It was out of my hands the minute my career ended in 2010," Hoffman told MLB.com. "The optimist in me is anticipating what's coming with the positive numbers. I'm trying to be 1 percent better. It's still a wonderful spot to be in. I'm excited, trying to keep things as normal as possible. I'm prepped for good news. If not, it's out of my control."

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The early returns are certainly favorable for Hoffman, who received 67.3 percent of the vote in 2016 before jumping nearly seven points last year. As of Tuesday afternoon, he had been named on 78.3 percent of publicly available ballots, according to Ryan Thibodaux's BBHOF Tracker.

Perhaps more importantly, Hoffman has received 14 votes from returning BBWAA members who left him off their ballots last year. He has lost only three votes, giving him a net gain of 11. Meanwhile, 11 first-time voters have released their ballots to the public, and Hoffman has been named on 10 of them.

Hoffman says he keeps himself clued in on the tracker, where his Hall prospects seem to fluctuate on a near-daily basis. As it stands, Vladimir Guerrero, Chipper Jones and Jim Thome appear to be locks, while Hoffman and Edgar Martinez sit squarely on the fence.

Tweet from @MLBStatoftheDay: #LightsOut?You bet @THoffman51 was. pic.twitter.com/Zs4TqCST3r

Hoffman has already made significant gains among returning and first-time voters. But it's uncertain whether he lost any ground from voters who did not return this year. With nearly half of the electorate unaccounted for, Wednesday's announcement features its usual share of drama.

"In the whole context of things, it's just such an unknown," Hoffman said. "There's a group of new writers coming into the opportunity to vote, some of the older writers are moving on, the uncertainty of the reliever role. It's not a slam dunk like a 3,000-hit or a 500-homer guy. There's still some uncertainty."

By now, Hoffman's case has been rehashed ad nauseam. It's a case that combines longevity and dominance better than nearly every other reliever in history, save for Mariano Rivera.

Hoffman's 601 saves are second only to Rivera, a sure-fire Hall of Famer. And among relievers with at least 1,000 innings, Hoffman ranks second in save percentage (88.8), eighth in ERA (2.87), fourth in ERA+ (141), second in opponents' batting average (.211), second in WHIP (1.06) and first in strikeout rate (25.8).

Hoffman is also widely regarded as the second greatest Padre of all-time -- behind Hall of Fame right fielder Tony Gwynn, who had a profound impact on Hoffman's career. Ultimately, Hoffman spent 16 of his 18 Major League seasons in San Diego, where he still resides. He has felt a groundswell of support in his Hall chase.

"I remember sitting with Tony in the early '90s," Hoffman recalled. "I remember him talking with us about having the opportunity to sign long-term in San Diego, making this our home. He said, 'It's hard to describe, but you won't be disappointed.' I took that really to heart -- a guy that has been through it, was in the middle of a 20-year career here in this city, to hear him speak on behalf of how great the community is, how much they appreciate you when you work hard. It's been nothing but that. I walk around town, and people couldn't be more complimentary, more supportive."

Come July, Padres fans might get the chance to carry their support all the way to Cooperstown.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

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