Which is more impressive, 600 saves or 600 homers?

September 13, 2010

HRs mean something

Dan Connolly

Baltimore Sun

Only seven players have hit 600 or more homers, with Jim Thome a healthy season away from becoming

No. 8.

Reggie Jackson, Frank Robinson, Mickey Mantle and, yes, Mark McGwire never got there.

Sure, four 600-plus homer hitters are steroid-era guys. But the club shuts its door after Thome or at least until Albert Pujols is ready or Manny Ramirez finds the fountain of youth (or similar elixirs).

As for saves, there's one member of the 600 club: Trevor Hoffman. Impressive, but consider that the saves stat has been around for about two weeks in comparison to the homer. A save can be recorded with three relief innings or one pitch with a three-run lead. Or by throwing a slider for a strike in July at a stadium west of the Mississippi.

We understand the homer. Hitting 600 — no matter when — is tremendous.

dconnolly@tribune.com

Closers have it tough

Dave van Dyck

Chicago Tribune

Now that baseball's drug testing has leveled the playing field — or at least threatened to — the arguments over statistical value become interesting again. We're all assuming that hitting 600 home runs will again become a somewhat rare feat, not a goal to be reached by a 30th birthday. But even without help from the medicine cabinet, 600 homers is — and will be — less impressive than 600 saves.

Could Jim Thome hit 600 home runs without the DH rule? No. Plus, pitchers who save games are dependent on teammates scoring enough runs to create save situations, and do it for many, many years. Home run hitters don't need any help, except from managers who write their names on the lineup card. Save me any arguments, this statistical question has an easy answer.

dvandyck@tribune.com

There's no asterisk

Mandy Housenick

The Morning Call

The Yankees' Mariano Rivera, the greatest reliever in history, doesn't have 600 saves. That should answer the question. Notching 600 saves is much harder than 600 home runs.

The first member of the 600-save club, the Brewers' Trevor Hoffman, hasn't had a physical transformation since he converted to a closer many years ago. Barry Bonds, A-Rod and Sammy Sosa had help. Illegal help. So did Manny Ramirez and others high on the home run list. Indeed, most sluggers from the steroid era always will have fans wondering: Did they or did they not have help?

Pitchers probably have juiced up as much as hitters in the last 20 years. But no one is even close to the numbers of Hoffman and Rivera, who has 555. Don't expect anyone anytime soon to sniff 600 after Rivera gets there. ... if he gets there. He may retire first.

ahousenick@tribune.com

Hoffman stands out

Kevin Baxter

Los Angeles Times

Six hundred just doesn't resonate the way 60, 714 and 755 do. Baseball has always venerated sluggers.

None of that changes the fact that Trevor Hoffman's all-time saves record is perhaps the greatest individual achievement of the last 40 years.

Consider that seven players have hit more than 600 homers, with four clearing that barrier in the last four years. Mariano Rivera is the only pitcher within 120 saves of 600. In fact, only five pitchers have more than 400.

Granted the save has only been an official statistic since 1969. But during that time Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr., Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriguez have all hit more than 600 homers.

On the saves list, Hoffman stands alone. As does his achievement.

kbaxter@tribune.com

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