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Friday, May 10, 2013

Catellier: Baseball HOF Discussion: Gil Hodges, Los Angeles Dodgers

Plus he’d wait on line for an Ebinger’s black-out cake just like the rest of us!

Is former Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers great Gil Hodges the best eligible position player not in the Hall of Fame? No, Barry Bonds is…or maybe Jeff Bagwell. But five years ago, the answer very well may have been “yes”.

Without all this newfangled steroid nonsense clouding the picture, Hodges’ case depicts perhaps the most lopsided argument in history regarding a player’s Hall of Fame merit. It seems that the lone split in the debate occurs between the people that actually make the Hall of Fame decision and everyone else in the baseball world. When Jim Rice was elected on his 15th and final ballot, Hodges reclaimed the stigmatic title of ownership of the most cumulative HOF votes over time without being inducted. The former all-star averaged over 57 percent in the voting totals during his final ten seasons on the ballot, eclipsing 60 percent three times. Within the Veterans Committee process, Hodges has come as close as one vote shy of making it to the Hall. Though he’s come within an arm’s length of Cooperstown many times, it’s extremely difficult (if not impossible) to single out the exact reason for this legend’s continued failure to actually reach it. Let’s look at the history.

Hodges was the first baseman and team leader for the Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1950s. During that decade, only his teammate Duke Snider (a Hall of Famer) was able to rack up more home runs and RBI. His OPS during the 50s was a solid 0.884 which ranked him 12th overall. All 11 players ahead of him in that category are in the Hall of Fame. If that’s not enough, a very telling comparison comes at the first base position, where frankly, Hodges’ superior numbers make it no comparison at all. Looking at all of the first basemen in the decade, Hodges ranks first in virtually every major offensive category. He led the pack in hits (1,491), runs scored (890), home runs (310), runs batted in (1,001), and OPS (0.884). No other first baseman even comes close.

...But whatever the reason, it’s not enough to justifiably explain the mistakes of both the BBWAA and the Veterans Committee. Hodges is a true Hall of Famer in every sense of the term, and thus far has nothing to show for it.

Repoz Posted: May 10, 2013 at 01:12 PM | 45 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, hof

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   1. cardsfanboy Posted: May 10, 2013 at 02:09 PM (#4439684)
Is former Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers great Gil Hodges the best eligible position player not in the Hall of Fame? No, Barry Bonds is…or maybe Jeff Bagwell. But five years ago, the answer very well may have been “yes”.


No, because five years ago Blyleven wasn't in. Santo wasn't in, Simmons is still not in, Trammell and Whitaker are still not in. Raines, Grich and about 20 other players are probably better candidates than Hodges.

I mean seriously why Hodges over Jack Clark? Tino Martinez? Will Clark? etc. One of his most similar player is Tino Martinez, and that seems to be an apt comparison.
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 10, 2013 at 02:11 PM (#4439690)
Don't see the case. 8100 PAs and a 120 OPS+ from a 1B?

His military service doesn't seem to have cost him. He didn't make the majors in '46, and posted only 91 terrible PAs in '47. He wasn't any good until '49.
   3. BDC Posted: May 10, 2013 at 02:14 PM (#4439693)
five years ago, the answer very well may have been “yes”

Through the end of the 2007 season – and subtracting 55 active or recently-active players, plus Pete Rose and Joe Jackson – there were 47 players higher than Gil Hodges on the career WAR list for position players. [*]

Of course ending the discussion with WAR, as we all know, is foolish, among other things because then you don't get to have a discussion. And it might be fair to wonder if Sal Bando was the monster that WAR believes him to be. But it's not just Sal Bando: it's Reggie Smith and Vada Pinson and Joe Torre and Ted Simmons and Will Clark and Jack Glasscock and Roy White and I could go on and on, and when you look in detail at any one of those cases, well past WAR, it's extremely hard to argue that Hodges was the better ballplayer. He was a very, very good ballplayer, and a miracle manager, and was on many championship teams. He has a big place in baseball history. That's great.

{/stating the obvious

[*] Edit: not counting the since-inducted Santo (thanks fanboy!) and any others I've forgotten
   4. Morty Causa Posted: May 10, 2013 at 02:16 PM (#4439698)
Not Hodges, again--Jeez.
   5. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: May 10, 2013 at 02:18 PM (#4439701)
This is the same dude who brought us Steve Garvey the other day isn't it? I look forward to upcoming pieces like "Did the BBWAA Induct The Wrong Brock? - The Greg Brock Saga" and "Where's Wes - A Detailed Look At Wes Parker's Hall of Fame Career."
   6. cardsfanboy Posted: May 10, 2013 at 02:20 PM (#4439703)
Hodges was the first baseman and team leader for the Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1950s. During that decade, only his teammate Duke Snider (a Hall of Famer) was able to rack up more home runs and RBI. His OPS during the 50s was a solid 0.884 which ranked him 12th overall. All 11 players ahead of him in that category are in the Hall of Fame. If that’s not enough, a very telling comparison comes at the first base position, where frankly, Hodges’ superior numbers make it no comparison at all. Looking at all of the first basemen in the decade, Hodges ranks first in virtually every major offensive category. He led the pack in hits (1,491), runs scored (890), home runs (310), runs batted in (1,001), and OPS (0.884). No other first baseman even comes close.


Hodges is the position player equivalent of Jack Morris.. His best years happen to exist within a round decade. You look at him from 1950-1959 and you get him in his best possible light in comparison to his peers. The problem is that even in that comparison, he doesn't really shine. a 128 ops+ from a first baseman? He rakes in the counting numbers because he happened to be extremely healthy in that decade, twice leading the league in games played, breaking 150(154 game seasons) games played in seven of those ten seasons. I'm all for rewarding health and reliability, but again he wasn't really that impressive when you include position adjustments etc.

Heck by war Minnie Minoso was the best player not in the hof from the 50's. (47 vs 41)
   7. Steve Treder Posted: May 10, 2013 at 02:20 PM (#4439704)
If Hodges had played the meat of his career as a third baseman instead of as a first baseman -- and it's my hunch that he was more than capable of playing an adequate third base, perhaps even a sterling third base -- then he would have a serious HOF case. As it is, even though he was regarded as the gold standard of first base defense, no cigar.
   8. Steve Treder Posted: May 10, 2013 at 02:22 PM (#4439709)
This is the same dude who brought us Steve Garvey the other day isn't it? I look forward to upcoming pieces like "Did the BBWAA Induct The Wrong Brock? - The Greg Brock Saga" and "Where's Wes - A Detailed Look At Wes Parker's Hall of Fame Career."

"Johnny Podres: Overlooked by Cooperstown."
   9. Styles P. Deadball Posted: May 10, 2013 at 03:04 PM (#4439758)
"The Pete Reiser Conspiracy"
   10. BDC Posted: May 10, 2013 at 03:11 PM (#4439766)
I'd do a fake Jim Gilliam headline, but cripes, Gilliam might be as good a candidate as Hodges, all things considered.
   11. jdennis Posted: May 10, 2013 at 04:14 PM (#4439849)
"Roy Thomas - More Deserving of Cooperstown than Ichiro?"
"Fred Pfeffer - The Bid McPhee of his day"
"Wynn, Cedeno, Cruz - When will the Astros get HOF respect?"
"Juan Pierre - The Case for the Courtesy Vote"
"Sheffield and Alou - The HOF's Bias Against Journeymen"
   12. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: May 10, 2013 at 04:21 PM (#4439860)
"Albert Belle & Chris Truby -- Religious Discrimination & the HOF"
   13. Ron J2 Posted: May 10, 2013 at 04:24 PM (#4439864)
And the award for best use of BBTF meme in the thread goes to #12.
   14. TJ Posted: May 10, 2013 at 04:44 PM (#4439887)
At least Gil Hodges has a better HOF WAR case than Steve Garvey...

   15. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: May 10, 2013 at 04:49 PM (#4439895)
Seems the HoF could figure out a way to enshrine guys, like Hodges, who had quite the body of work as a player and manager, but not enough of either side alone.
   16. TJ Posted: May 10, 2013 at 04:59 PM (#4439902)
Funny, but the author hasn't brought up the best Dodger non-HOF first baseman- Doph Camilli. Look at the three through the lens of WAR:

Career WAR: Hodges 45.0, Camilli 42.6, Garvey 37.6
5+ All Star Type Seasonal WARs; Camilli 5, Hodges 3, Garvey 1.
Black Ink/Gray Ink: Camilli 14/143, Garvey 12/142, Hodges 2/128
Career Wins Above Average: Camilli 21.2, Hodges 13.9, Garvey 6.5
OPS+: Camilli 135, Garvey 122, Hodges 120.
(All stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com)

Biggest differences? Longevity- Garvey played 19 seasons, Hodges 18, Camilli 12, so Camilli didn't have the time to amass the counting stats (but he did have his decline phase. Camilli's shortened career came about by not entering the majors until age 26, and didn't become a Dodger until traded by Philly at age 31), and B) Fame- Everyone remembers Hodges from the Miracle Mets of 1969 and Garvey for being, well, Garvey. But if I had to pick from the three non-HOF Dodger first basemen, I would take the best player, and that was Dolph Camilli.
   17. Walt Davis Posted: May 10, 2013 at 05:13 PM (#4439917)
See, I made the Garvey-Hodges connection in the Garvey thread. Great minds, eh?
   18. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: May 10, 2013 at 05:24 PM (#4439923)
"Doug DeCinces - Come on! Insider trading is a totally victimless crime!"
   19. Moeball Posted: May 10, 2013 at 06:20 PM (#4439965)
Went to click on Hodges' B-Ref page to see what all the shouting was about.

Went to click on his splits - all that comes up are the game logs pages.

Tried doing this for several other players - same thing - cannot pull up the yearly splits for anyone, only the game logs.

Anyone else having this problem?

Calling all Seans...
   20. Moeball Posted: May 10, 2013 at 08:37 PM (#4440093)
OK, now it appears the splits are working again...that was bizarre.

Oh well, as Emily Litella used to say on Saturday Night Live, "Never mind!"
   21. Adam B. Posted: May 10, 2013 at 09:43 PM (#4440157)
Ask Kevin Brown if the HOF has a bias against journeymen.
   22. cardsfanboy Posted: May 10, 2013 at 10:16 PM (#4440190)
Ask Kevin Brown if the HOF has a bias against journeymen.


I think the hof had a bias against a-holes is what hurt Kevin Brown.
   23. Tubbs & Minnie Miñoso don't fear Sid Monge Posted: May 10, 2013 at 11:30 PM (#4440240)
December 2014's Golden Era ballot results should be interesting. Unlike the Pre-Integration and Expansion Era, there aren't any strong non-player candidates. Santo finally made it on the first Golden Era ballot but there is no way to know how many votes were out of sympathy or if the new voting format helped. Below are the 2011 results from the baseball hof site:

Results of the Golden Era Ballot (12 votes needed for election): Ron Santo (15 votes, 93.75%); Jim Kaat (10 votes, 62.5%); Gil Hodges (9 votes, 56.25%); Minnie Minoso (9 votes, 56.25%); Tony Oliva (8 votes, 50%); Buzzie Bavasi, Ken Boyer, Charlie Finley, Allie Reynolds and Luis Tiant each received less than three votes.

Kaat, Hodges, Minoso, or Oliva may draw enough support to finally make it. Minoso is in his 90s, if he's ever going to make it, it'd be nice to see him make it while still alive.
   24. OCF Posted: May 11, 2013 at 01:41 AM (#4440313)
Seems the HoF could figure out a way to enshrine guys, like Hodges, who had quite the body of work as a player and manager, but not enough of either side alone.

Well, Red Schoendienst is in the Hall of Fame. You could probably make a decent case for Hodges over Schoendienst, but it might be just as easy to call that a case against Schoendienst. (Frank Chance is a different argument, and I'd prefer to leave him out if this.)
   25. Walt Davis Posted: May 11, 2013 at 03:36 AM (#4440326)
There are a couple issues with Hodges vs. Red. Yes, there's the miracle of miracles and, yes, he managed crappy teams, but Hodges career record as a manager is 660-753. Red managed 2000 games, had a winning record and has 1 pennant and 1 WS (with much better talent). They're pretty close as players too.

I hoped "the red" might pick up Schoendienst but I worried it might pick up Eric "the red" Davis. No worries ... "the red" is Josh Reddick.

Recency effects suck as you get older.

BTW, Reddick has a 45 OPS+. Meanwhile Bailey has a 20/4 K/BB in 12 IP and a 1.46 ERA ... feeling any better about that trade yet Boston?
   26. Adam B. Posted: May 11, 2013 at 08:11 AM (#4440341)
Seems the HoF could figure out a way to enshrine guys, like Hodges, who had quite the body of work as a player and manager, but not enough of either side alone.

I believe Joe Torre will be considered on that 2014 Golden Era ballot. Had he never played the game, does he get in as a manager alone?
   27. BDC Posted: May 11, 2013 at 09:54 AM (#4440369)
Can we have a vocabulary check on the word "journeyman?" (For the Nth time :) It means a guy of ordinary skills who grabs up his tools and gets hired by the day ("jour"). David Murphy is a journeyman, even though he's played for the same team for years. Kevin Brown was a master pitcher who kept wearing out his welcome and finding a new one somewhere else.

Had he never played the game, does he get in as a manager alone?

Nobody with even three World Championships will fail to go in, no matter what their playing career (once LaRussa is inducted, as he eminently deserves to be). To exclude a non-player Torre, the voters would have to mentally class him with guys like Cito Gaston and Ralph Houk, who won two but were perceived at the time as along for the ride (though that's probably unfair to both). But Torre's achievements are so much more extensive than Gaston's or Houk's that I can't see that happening.
   28. cardsfanboy Posted: May 11, 2013 at 10:25 AM (#4440379)
Can we have a vocabulary check on the word "journeyman?" (For the Nth time :) It means a guy of ordinary skills who grabs up his tools and gets hired by the day ("jour"). David Murphy is a journeyman, even though he's played for the same team for years. Kevin Brown was a master pitcher who kept wearing out his welcome and finding a new one somewhere else.


I've always seen it used in the way that it means a player who travels from multiple teams. It doesn't matter if the word is taken from trade craft, it's all about how most people have used it. Until about 5 years ago, it never even occurred to me that people had been using the word wrong for all my life in regards to baseball players. They weren't co-opting the term from trade unions, they were joining two words with specific meaning into the definition.

Journey meaning to travel, man meaning person.
   29. BDC Posted: May 11, 2013 at 10:29 AM (#4440380)
it's all about how most people have used it

True enough; it just seems to me one of those instances where we've lost an evocative word from the language :(
   30. Howie Menckel Posted: May 11, 2013 at 10:31 AM (#4440383)
"Seems the HoF could figure out a way to enshrine guys, like Hodges, who had quite the body of work as a player and manager, but not enough of either side alone."

Agreed. When you add his management of the Miracle Mets of 1969 - most stunning World Series champ ever this side of the 1914 Boston Braves, and some spade work in Washington, at least we can then have a discussion.

Sure, the Mets' pitching was young and great, but the offense had an 84 OPS+ and only 2 hitters had more than 400 AB (but 15 hitters had at least 169 AB).
   31. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: May 11, 2013 at 11:04 AM (#4440398)
I believe Joe Torre will be considered on that 2014 Golden Era ballot. Had he never played the game, does he get in as a manager alone?


Is this a trick question?

Torre is 6th in wins. The highest ranked non-HOF (aside from Cox and LaRussa), is 12th. Torre has 6 pennants. The highest ranked non-HOF manager has 3. Torre has 4 WS wins. No one with more than 2 is out. Torre the manager is about as slam dunk an inductee as there is. It's like asking if Frank Robinson is a HOFer even if he never managed.
   32. Bruce Markusen Posted: May 11, 2013 at 11:52 AM (#4440434)
Yes, Torre would get in on his managing record alone. His playing record, which remains underrated, is the icing.
   33. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 11, 2013 at 12:02 PM (#4440440)
Agreed. When you add his management of the Miracle Mets of 1969 - most stunning World Series champ ever this side of the 1914 Boston Braves,

More stunning than the 1990 Reds? I remember that well and nobody gave Cincinnati any chance.

I mean the Mets were a 100 win team. The Reds won 91.
   34. Howie Menckel Posted: May 11, 2013 at 09:03 PM (#4440796)
The 1989 Reds won 75 games, so they improved 16 games.
The 1968 Mets won 73 games (7 more than the 7-yr-old franchise had ever won before), so they improved 27 games.

The 1969 Orioles won 109 games, 9 more than the Mets.
The 1990 Athletics won 103 games, 12 more than the Reds.

Little difference there.

And I remember both series, and the "nobody gave a chance" team, of the two, was the Mets.

The Reds were significant underdogs, but even taking the "entering the World Series" angle that you've chosen, it's the Mets.

The "entering the season" angle, which was my point - well, it's not real close.

   35. BDC Posted: May 11, 2013 at 09:37 PM (#4440808)
And in addition to the Yankee Years, Torre won division championships in Atlanta and in LA – both after long-enough droughts for those teams, and with long-enough droughts thereafter. He therefore more than escapes the rep that pursued Houk, after Houk never managed to get anything going again after 1963.

I never thought of Torre as a genius; I imagine none of us did. But after a certain point, it's hard to argue with success.
   36. Howie Menckel Posted: May 11, 2013 at 09:55 PM (#4440814)

Torre began his managing career with the Yankees as the record-holder for most games ever played + managed without ever winning a World Series.

One of the NY tabloids greeted his hiring with a back page of "SAY IT AIN'T JOE"

   37. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: May 11, 2013 at 10:19 PM (#4440817)
Torre began his managing career with the Yankees as the record-holder for most games ever played + managed without ever winning a World Series.

One of the NY tabloids greeted his hiring with a back page of "SAY IT AIN'T JOE

his record as a manager at that time was 849-1003 with 5 winning seasons out of 14

and, yes, you could quote similar numbers for Casey before he was hired in 49--two of the most roundly criticized Yankee hires were the most successful
   38. Steve Treder Posted: May 12, 2013 at 02:31 AM (#4440852)
and, yes, you could quote similar numbers for Casey before he was hired in 49--two of the most roundly criticized Yankee hires were the most successful

The similarity of the situations is damn well eerie.

One difference: Stengel's personality was understood as free-spirited jokester, Torre's as solid-citizen bedrock. But everything else echoes so closely it requires Twilight Zone background music.
   39. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: May 12, 2013 at 09:19 AM (#4440890)
True enough; it just seems to me one of those instances where we've lost an evocative word from the language :(


Agreed. I never knew the derivation of "journeyman" till now, but that's the definition I've always had in mind -- a guy with average skills. I think of the well-traveled likes of Kevin Brown as "itinerant" or "peripatetic," I guess.
   40. Walt Davis Posted: May 12, 2013 at 06:38 PM (#4441255)
I'm with BDC. I don't think of Brown or Sheffield as journeyman ... and I didn't think anybody did. Go figure. I wouldn't consider Murphy a journeyman either since he doesn't journey but he has a journeyman level of skill and I assume the remainder of his career will involve a good bit of travel.

Reggie Sanders, Mike Cameron and Kenny Lofton are the borderline guys. Very good players, especially Lofton, but for some reason they bounced around a lot and had trouble getting even 2-year contracts and often played for very little money (relatively speaking). Lofton got caught in mini-collusion -- all non-star FA OF were offered 3/$9 contracts for a couple of years there; MLB mysteriously made a large contribution to MLBPA a few years later -- and Lofton apparently wouldn't play along. 1/$1 from the White Sox; 1/$1 from the Pirates.

I'll call it ... Sanders journeyman, Cameron borderline (more undervalued) and Lofton not journeyman despite the fact he often had to beg for a job.

Now, who are the mercenaries?
   41. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 12, 2013 at 06:44 PM (#4441258)
every so often situations make for strange bedfellows and the baseball hof is one such case. I agree with joe sheehan

the writers have gone off the rails in how they assess what does and does not make a hof player. there is no resident common sense

as for the veterans committee I couldn't explain what monkey f8cking a football methodology is currently in place

as for hodges he was a fine player and a better person

but not a hall of famer.

but what the h8ll, put him in. elect the guy down the street. why not the long-time peanut vendor of the lansing lugnuts?

it makes no sense any more so therefore it has lost meaning.

shame on the hof for allowing a self-defining institution for losing any ability to define itself.
   42. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: May 12, 2013 at 06:59 PM (#4441268)
and, yes, you could quote similar numbers for Casey before he was hired in 49--two of the most roundly criticized Yankee hires were the most successful

Both were career NL players who became career NL managers. Neither had ever spent a day in the AL prior to coming to the Yankees. Both had lousy managerial records, too.

You know who else you can say all that about? Miller Huggins. NL player turned Cardinals manager - then the Yankees and glory.

Joe McCarthy is a little similar. He never spent any time in the AL, let alone with the Yankees, before they hired him as their manager. But he was mostly a minor leaguer. And he had considerable success as a big league manager, guiding the Cubs to the 1929 pennant.
   43. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 12, 2013 at 07:03 PM (#4441270)
And he had considerable success as a big league manager, guiding the Cubs to the 1929 pennant.

yes, that is how is joe McCarthy is remembered. of course

nicely done cub fan
   44. BDC Posted: May 12, 2013 at 07:16 PM (#4441283)
I wouldn't consider Murphy a journeyman either since he doesn't journey but he has a journeyman level of skill

This is an interesting coming-together of two etymologies. "Journeymen" work by the day; a "journey" is a day's travel. In practice, a journeyman might spend his whole working life in one city, moving from master to master as circumstances had it, but since that can't happen in baseball unless you bounce perpetually back and forth between the Cubs and White Sox or something, being a journeyman ballplayer usually does involve being peripatetic as well: unless, like Tim Wakefield in his later years, you just keep re-upping your one-year contract.

Reggie Sanders would indeed be the ultimate journeyman. He had skill, but he was nobody you'd figure to build a team around, so when his day of work was finished, you shook his hand and wished him luck.
   45. Tubbs & Minnie Miñoso don't fear Sid Monge Posted: May 12, 2013 at 08:29 PM (#4441318)
as for the veterans committee I couldn't explain what monkey f8cking a football methodology is currently in place

I certainly hope the Vet Committees elect players and not just managers, umpires, GMs, owners, and gulp...Bud Selig.

The Golden Era Committee posthumously elected Santo and the Pre-Integration Era Committee put in Deacon White but that does not mean they'll take a serious look at borderline cases like those of Grich, Whitaker, Minoso, Hernandez, Dwight Evans and others.

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