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40-save season Hoffman's success 'benchmark'

Hoffy had nine 40-save seasons in his Hall of Fame career
San Diego Padres

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

As a player, Trevor Hoffman did not set goals going into any of his 18 Major League seasons. But he did have benchmarks ... statistics at the end of seasons that he would see as meaningful accomplishments.

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

As a player, Trevor Hoffman did not set goals going into any of his 18 Major League seasons. But he did have benchmarks ... statistics at the end of seasons that he would see as meaningful accomplishments.

At the top of that list was 40 saves.

"As a closer, if you reached 40 saves it was the mark of a good season -- usually for both the player and the team," Hoffman said recently.

"Getting to 40 saves usually meant the team was successful more often than not. And 40 saves also meant you were out there doing your job as often as possible. And it probably meant you hadn't messed up too many times."

Hoffman had nine 40-save seasons, topped by his personal high of 53 during the Padres 1998 National League championship season.

The nine 40-save seasons is tied for the most in Major League history with Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees.

Twice in his career (1998-2001 and 2004-07), Hoffman had runs of four straight 40-save seasons. He was the first closer to post four straight 40-save seasons and remains only one of three closers who have done it twice.

As noted before, Hoffman puts a lot of weight on consistency and longevity. Nine 40-save seasons speaks to both categories.

Hoffman's first 40-save season came during the Padres run to their second National League West title in 1996. He converted 42 of 49 save opportunities.

His second came in 1998 when he converted 53 of 54 opportunities with a 1.48 ERA. He tied the then single-season NL record for saves as the Padres won both the division title and their second NL championship.

The 1998 season also launched the first of Hoffman's runs of four straight 40-save seasons. He had 40 in 43 chances in '99, 43 in 50 chances in 2000 and 43 in 46 chances in '01. In '02, he fell two saves short of a fifth straight 40-save season.

After missing most of the 2003 season following surgery, Hoffman launched his second run of four straight 40-save seasons, with 41 in 45 opportunities during the inaugural Petco Park season of 2004.

During the Padres run to their fourth NL West title in 2005, Hoffman had 43 saves in 46 tries. In '06, as the Padres won a second straight division title, Hoffman led the NL in saves for the second time, converting 46 of 51 chances. He had his ninth and final 40-save season in '07 with 42 in 49 chances.

In addition to the nine 40-save seasons, Hoffman had three other seasons with 37 or 38 saves. He had 14 seasons of 30 or more saves in his storied career.

San Diego Padres