Does anyone have a better All-Star story than Jeff Hoffman?

Phillies reliever Jeff Hoffman will make his first career All-Star appearance, but the road to get there hasn't always been smooth.
Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Jeff Hoffman is a first-time All-Star
Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Jeff Hoffman is a first-time All-Star / Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
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The Philadelphia Phillies will not be underrepresented at the 2024 All-Star Game at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. The club will send seven players as representatives, including Alec Bohm, Bryce Harper, Jeff Hoffman, Matt Strahm, Ranger Suárez, Trea Turner and Zack Wheeler to take part in the festivities.

Some have been on multiple All-Star teams, but for some this is their first time receiving the honor. For Hoffman, this honor is special given some of the tribulations he experienced on the way.

Does anyone have a better All-Star story than Jeff Hoffman?

Hoffman was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the first round of the 2014 draft. Before he ever got a chance to pitch for the Blue Jays, he was traded to the Colorado Rockies in the move that brought Troy Tulowitzki and LaTroy Hawkins to Toronto in 2015.

The right-hander's time in Colorado was rocky, to say the least. Over parts of five seasons, he appeared in just 68 games in starting and relief roles. Over that span, he posted a 6.41 ERA and was sent back and forth between the big league team and the minors more times than one can count.

When his time in Colorado ran its course, Hoffman was traded to Cincinnati after the shortened 2020 season. He spent two years there experiencing slightly better results before being designated for assignment following the 2022 campaign. The Minnesota Twins took a flier on the East Carolina standout but released him after spring training. That's when everything began to change.

The Phillies signed Hoffman to a minor league deal shortly after his release, and from there, things have gotten much better for the now 31-year-old. After spring training in 2023, the Phillies sent Hoffman to Triple-A to refine his craft. As luck would have it, the club asked him to throw live batting practice to Bryce Harper who was recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Tim Kelly of Phillies Nation wrote that Harper was so impressed with Hoffman's stuff and his new slider that he believed he should be pitching with the Phillies. Ultimately, he was called up before his opt-out date and stuck with the big-league club for the rest of the 2023 season.

Between his career-defining 2023 season and his dominant start to the current season — 37 1/3 innings, a 1.21 ERA and 0.88 WHIP with 47 strikeouts — the key piece of the Phillies' bullpen has become one of the top relievers in the game. His All-Star nod is deserving and warrants the recognition he should receive from his peers and baseball fans.

Hoffman's reaction to his All-Star selection says it all

Hoffman, his coaches and teammates were thrilled with the number of All-Stars the Phillies are sending to Arlington next week. Corey Seidman of NBC Sports Philadelphia wrote about the Phillies reliever's feelings after finding out about his selection.

"I was shaking a lot. It took me a while to calm down, actually," Hoffman said, per Seidman. "I called my wife, everybody's really happy to cancel our All-Star plans and get to hang out and play baseball instead.

"You don't know how often stuff like this will happen. That's why I try to be in the moment as much as possible, try to enjoy it. I'm happy that all four of my kids and my wife will be there with me and get to enjoy it as a family."

Hoffman will join his catch partner, Strahm, in Arlington, and the two relievers are proud to be NL All-Star teammates. The hard-throwing right-hander has had a stellar season to this point. An All-Star appearance and the numbers he's putting up will certainly earn him a big payday when he becomes a free agent after this season. The Phillies will look to bring him back and hope he can replicate his performance since joining the club.

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