The 2023 MLB Hall of Fame voting has concluded, adding another year where a closer has not entered the Hall. In all of the years of the Hall of Fame, only eight closers have been inducted.
In no particular order, the eight closers are Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Trevor Hoffman, Mariano Rivera, Lee Smith, Bruce Sutter, and Hoyt Wilhelm.
For the 2023 ballot, one name, in particular, stood out and should have received more votes than he did. This closer won a world series, holds the single-season save record and is a six-time all-star. He goes by, K-Rod or Francisco Rodríguez.
Rodriguez made his debut in 2002 when he was about 20 years old. After a few weeks, the reliever found himself on the Angels’ playoff roster, where he became an Angels legend.
Being as young and inexperienced as Rodriguez was, he put the league on notice by striking out 28 batters in 18 and two-thirds of innings. The Angels would go on to beat the Yankees, Twins, and Giants to win the World Series that year.
Two years later, Rodriguez would become an All-Star, producing a 3.3 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) and struck out 123 batters in 84 innings. K-Rod would soon find himself in the closer role in 2005, earning 45 saves.
In 2006, K-Rod led the majors with 47 saves and produced a war of 3.7 and an adjusted ERA of 263. Rodriguez kept the accomplishments coming by setting a single-season save record of 62 games.
Rodriguez led the American League in saves three out of the four seasons when he was on the Angels. While on the Angels, Rodriguez found himself in the top five for Cy Young, top six for MVP, and won two Reliever of the Year awards.
Rodriguez would soon leave the Angels after the 2008 season, where he would play for nine more seasons and earn three more All-Star appearances.
In the 16 seasons Rodriguez played, he had six seasons where he had at least 40 saves which rank him behind Rivera and Hoffman, who both have nine and are in the Hall of Fame.
To compare Rodriguez to some Hall of Fame closers, Rodriguez matches up closely with Trevor Hoffman and Lee Smith.
Hoffman has one more All-Star appearance but the same amount of Reliever of the year awards. When matching up with Hoffman, Rodriguez has a WAR of 24.2 while Hoffman has a WAR of 28. Hoffman does have more seasons and saves, but their ERA is almost identical, where Hoffman has a 2.87 while Rodriguez has a 2.86.
As for the Smith argument, Smith has a 28.9 WAR, but the saves are pretty close, as Smith has 478 while Rodriguez has 437 in two fewer seasons. Rodriguez also has a better ERA than Smith, where Smith has a 3.03.
Rodriguez isn’t going to be a Hall of Famer; that is unanimous, but his resume is pretty enough to get more votes than he did this year and for more years to come. Rodriguez should be the ninth closer to entering the Hall of Fame.