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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Clavin & Peary: Gil Hodges and the Elusive Hall of Fame

Note: Peary dropped me as a friend on FB…due to a comment I made about Roger Maris, Tim McCarver or Frederick Cook. Not quite sure.

When members of the media contacts us or when we’re with audiences at speaking engagements, invariably the first question is, “Why isn’t Gil Hodges in the Hall of Fame?” His absence in Cooperstown is arguably the worst miscarriage of justice by the voters in the history of the Baseball Hall of Fame. His family, friends, and legions of fans have wanted that rectified for more than 40 years.

...While it’s true that many of his records have been surpassed, his power numbers still compare favorably to inductees whose careers began after his, including Orlando Cepeda, Tony Perez and Johnny Bench.  His slumps are looked upon derisively, but he still drove in 1,274 runs. Hall of Fame voters hold back votes from designated hitters, emphasizing how important fielding is, yet with few exceptions they ignore a player’s fielding prowess when they cast their ballots. Hodges won countless games with his glove and revolutionized the first base position.

If the writers and veterans have an excuse for their faulty voting over the years in regard to Hodges, it is that the Los Angeles Dodgers, unlike the Mets, have never retired his number. The Mets have, but not the organization he belonged to for more than 15 years. The Dodgers’ backward policy has been to only retire uniform numbers after a player has been voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Thus, the Hall of Fame voters have been able to say: If the Dodgers don’t even consider Hodges for their Hall of Fame, there’s no reason I should consider him for ours.

The rules for induction into the Hall of Fame changed in recent years. Voters can select players from specific eras. In the vote held last December, advocates for Ron Santo made a big push and were successful in getting him elected even though no candidate from “The Golden Era” (1947-1972) stands out more than Hodges. It helps that his playing career and managing careers can now be combined, but that hasn’t yet righted a huge wrong.

All through the years Joan has kept her hopes alive that her husband will someday make the Hall of Fame. She wants baseball history, and Gil Hodges’ place in it, to be corrected for posterity. She doesn’t want her husband to be known as just another very good player when he put his body and soul into the game and deserves to be remembered for his vast contribution.

Repoz Posted: October 27, 2012 at 07:09 AM | 19 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, hof

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   1. AndrewJ Posted: October 27, 2012 at 08:55 AM (#4284819)
Gil got a 2 on the Black Ink test -- all he ever led the National League in was games played. He had only two top-10 finishes in the MVP voting, with 0.65 career MVP Shares (Ted Kluszewski. a contemporary first baseman who also neither won an MVP or made the Hall, retired with 1.30 MVP Shares). None of the 10 players most similar to Gil are in the Hall.

Apart from the sentiment surrounding the 1969 Mets and his early death, I don't see the argument.
   2. DanG Posted: October 27, 2012 at 09:11 AM (#4284822)
As a player he has the "best of a weak crop" argument. 1B debut 1937+, retired before 1974:

Player           WAR/pos OPSRfield  HR  RBI   PA From   To
Gil Hodges          40.7  120     48 370 1274 8102 1943 1963
Bill White          35.3  116     57 202  870 6678 1956 1969
Joe Adcock          30.1  124      2 336 1122 7302 1950 1966
Mickey Vernon       30.1  116    
-22 172 1311 9838 1939 1960
Earl Torgeson       29.9  117      8 149  740 6046 1947 1961
Ted Kluszewski      29.2  123    
-17 279 1028 6469 1947 1961
Ferris Fain         25.3  120     14  48  570 4904 1947 1955
Bill Skowron        24.6  119     45 211  888 6046 1954 1967
Roy Sievers         22.8  124    
-79 318 1147 7347 1949 1965 

Combined with his managing career this puts him over the HOF line, IMO. But it's hardly "the worst miscarriage of justice by the voters in the history of the Baseball Hall of Fame." Let's try to confine such hyperbole to the political realm.
   3. BDC Posted: October 27, 2012 at 09:37 AM (#4284835)
There are so many players similar to Hodges that you get very long comps lists. This one is very tightly centered on him in terms of OPS+ and PAs, and ranked by WAR Fielding Runs, with SB included for a quick gauge of speed:

Player            Rfield   PA OPS+  SB       Pos
Chet Lemon            94 7874  121  58  
*89/D547
Carlos Beltran        69 8349  122 306    
*89/D7
Wally Joyner          54 8115  117  60      
*3/D
Gil Hodges            48 8102  120  63 
*3/275984
Sal Bando             37 8287  119  75 
*5/D36417
Ron Cey               19 8344  121  24     
*5/D3
Cecil Cooper          18 7939  121  89       
*3D
Paul ONeill            8 8329  120 141  
*9/73D81
Derrek Lee            
-2 7963  122 104      *3/D
Cesar Cedeno         
-14 8133  123 550   *8397/5
Hal McRae            
-16 8059  123 109  *D7/9854
Willie Horton        
-18 8052  120  20    *7D9/5
Del Ennis            
-34 7943  117  45    *79/83
Shawn Green          
-42 7963  120 162   *93/87D
George Hendrick      
-58 7834  117  59    9873/D
Ken Griffey          
-68 8049  118 200    9783/D
Gary Matthews        
-94 8189  118 183     *79/


Those are Griffey and Matthews Srs, naturally. That list, with no HOFers (though Beltran is still active and building a case), is about as definitive a HOVG list as I've seen lately. I did not limit by position, so it's even a little odd to see such a list without some HOFer, infielder or catcher, on it somewhere; but this list clean avoids them. Needless to say, HOVG means Very Good indeed. It is a rare team that wouldn't be improved by adding one of these players in his prime.
   4. donlock Posted: October 27, 2012 at 10:08 AM (#4284844)
"the worst miscarriage of justice by the voters in the history of the Baseball Hall of Fame.


How can an election, or a series of elections, be a miscarriage of justice? The voters weren't members of a jury.

Seems just like talk to hype book sales.Why did it take two people to write this book?
   5. Downtown Bookie Posted: October 27, 2012 at 10:23 AM (#4284849)
Fun bit of trivia (and I see they mention it in the article): for a very brief period, Gil Hodges was the all-time leader in Home Runs by a National League right handed hitter; might have been interesting to see what Hodges could have done playing in the LA Coliseum in his prime. BTW, for the longest time the left handed NL Home Run leader was Mel Ott; fitting that the two who have passed him are also associated with the Giants.

DB
   6. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: October 27, 2012 at 11:40 AM (#4284883)
I wanted to go to the Elusive Hall of Fame, but I couldn't find it anywhere!

\rimshot
\try the veal
   7. Repoz Posted: October 27, 2012 at 12:01 PM (#4284895)
Why did it take two people to write this book?

Clavin & Peary also wrote the infuriating sabermetric-free "Roger Maris: Baseball's Reluctant Hero" book.

One writer added RBI's up and the other added RBI up.

   8. Bug Selig Posted: October 27, 2012 at 12:14 PM (#4284909)
invariably the first question is, “Why isn’t Gil Hodges in the Hall of Fame?”


It's generally a bad idea to open with a ridiculous lie.
   9. JE (Jason) Posted: October 27, 2012 at 12:31 PM (#4284919)
The Dodgers’ backward policy has been to only retire uniform numbers after a player has been voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Junior Gilliam is not in the Hall of Fame.
   10. Booey Posted: October 27, 2012 at 12:48 PM (#4284926)
Combined with his managing career this puts him over the HOF line, IMO.


You really think being the best of a very weak crop is a good HOF argument? His overall managerial career isn't really anything special either.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: October 27, 2012 at 05:46 PM (#4285169)
The VC is always strange and I can't keep straight who's eligible with whom in the current set-up, but the best argument for Hodges is along these lines:

Here are the last 30 years of VC position player inductions of reasonably modern players (i.e. no Negro League or pre-Ruth types), in reverse order of induction:

Santo 67 WAR
Gordon 54
Maz 32
Cepeda 46
Doby 47
Fox 46
Ashburn 60
Rizzuto 38
Lazzeri 46
Schoendienst 39
Doerr 47
Lombardi 44
Vaughan 71
Reese 63

And still it's hard. Hodges had 41 WAR. That's not out of character with most of those selections but it is only ahead of Rizzuto, Maz and Schoendienst. Of course WAR is not everything and you can also add in Hodges' managerial career to maybe boost him up to being similar to the mid-40s brigade.

Frankly, most of those guys got in because they had a good story or because they were respected. Those first two picks of Vaughan and Reese were proper VC picks, correcting mistakes of the writers. The last two picks of Santo and Gordon are the same. But that's a whole lot of HOVG in the middle (Ashburn and possibly Doby aside) and I'd guess those guys are largely indistinguishable from a half-dozen who didn't make it. Which makes Hodges' exclusion kind of odd. He's got good support outside the VC, he seems to have been widely respected, he was a key part of good teams -- that plus being HOVG has done quite well with the VC.
   12. alilisd Posted: October 28, 2012 at 08:25 PM (#4286291)
I do not understand the comments about Hodges managerial career adding to his case. Players are elected as player and Managers are elected as Managers. If you weren't good enough at either to be elected, you don't get to add the two together.
   13. BDC Posted: October 28, 2012 at 08:42 PM (#4286338)
Players are elected as player and Managers are elected as Managers. If you weren't good enough at either to be elected, you don't get to add the two together

But why not? Apart from the fact that empirically it has sometimes happened that way (Frank Chance, Lou Boudreau, Red Schoendienst), why wouldn't somebody who contributed significantly as a player and then spent a lot more years contributing significantly as a manager be worthy on a combined basis? I can imagine Kirk Gibson or Don Mattingly winning a couple of pennants as managers – not enough to induct him on its own – and then voters later saying, wow, this guy was in the thick of things for a long time, it's hard to imagine Cooperstown without him.
   14. bobm Posted: October 28, 2012 at 08:44 PM (#4286341)
[12]Reposted from the Nov 2011 Hodges thread:

From http://baseballhall.org/hall-famers/rules-election/eras-golden


Name: The Golden Era Committee ("The Committee") shall refer to the electorate that considers retired Major League Baseball players no longer eligible for election by the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA), along with managers, umpires and executives, whose greatest contributions to the game were realized from the 1947-1972 era. ...

Eligible Candidates – Eligible candidates must be selected from:

(A) Eligible candidates must be selected from managers, umpires, executives and players, who meet following criteria related to their classification:

Players who played in at least 10 major league seasons, who are not on Major League Baseball's ineligible list, and have been retired for 21 or more seasons;
Managers and umpires with 10 or more years in baseball and retired for at least five years. Candidates who are 65 years or older are eligible six months following retirement;
Executives retired for at least five years. Active executives 65 years or older are eligible for consideration.

(B) Those whose careers entailed involvement in multiple categories will be considered for their overall contribution to the game of Baseball; however, the specific category in which these individuals shall be considered will be determined by the role in which they were most prominent. In those instances when a candidate is prominent as both a player and as a manager, executive or umpire, the BBWAA-appointed Historical Overview Committee shall determine that individual's category as a player, as a manager or as an umpire or as an executive/pioneer. Those designated as players must fulfill the requirements of 6 (A).

(emphasis added)

   15. The District Attorney Posted: October 28, 2012 at 08:55 PM (#4286361)
This Hall of Fame is as elusive as Robert Denby!
   16. AJMcCringleberry Posted: October 28, 2012 at 09:07 PM (#4286403)
Thus, the Hall of Fame voters have been able to say: If the Dodgers don’t even consider Hodges for their Hall of Fame, there’s no reason I should consider him for ours.

I don't believe I've ever heard this argument about anyone.
   17. alilisd Posted: October 29, 2012 at 05:33 PM (#4287657)
But why not? Apart from the fact that empirically it has sometimes happened that way (Frank Chance, Lou Boudreau, Red Schoendienst), why wouldn't somebody who contributed significantly as a player and then spent a lot more years contributing significantly as a manager be worthy on a combined basis?


Well, Bob C, having been shown the error of my ways by bobm, I can only give you my opinion on why I don't think it should happen that way. If someone wasn't quite good enough to be elected as a player, they shouldn't be elected as a player. If someone wasn't quite good enough to be elected as a manager, they shouldn't be elected as a manager. If you haven't done either well enough be a Hall of Famer, you're still not a HOF simply becasue you've done both at a level not commensurate with enshrinement.

Clearly that's what the voting rules for the Committee instruct, but I personally don't feel someone like Hodges, who was not a HOF 1B nor a HOF manager, should be elected becasue he was a HOVG player and had a noteable achievment as a manager. However, as those are the voting instructions, I would consider him carefully if I were on the Committee.
   18. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: October 29, 2012 at 05:39 PM (#4287668)
The Dodgers’ backward policy has been to only retire uniform numbers after a player has been voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Junior Gilliam is not in the Hall of Fame.


But he might be in the Elusive Hall of Fame.
   19. alilisd Posted: October 29, 2012 at 05:44 PM (#4287676)
Thus, the Hall of Fame voters have been able to say: If the Dodgers don’t even consider Hodges for their Hall of Fame, there’s no reason I should consider him for ours.

I don't believe I've ever heard this argument about anyone.


I doubt it's what the voters thought either. If you look at Hodges' MVP finishes, it's clear the BBWAA didn't consdier him a HOF during his career either. I think it's much more likely they didn't elect him after his retirement because they still didn't think he was a HOF 1B. I mean he most resembles Jim Bottomley, a horrible VC selection in 1973. If the writers thought Jim Bottomley was what a HOF 1B looked like, they had ample opportunity to affirm that as Hodges was still on the ballot until 1983. Instead they elected Harmon Killebrew in 1984, followed by Willie McCovey in 1986 and Willie Stargell in 1987. I think it's clear they were setting a higher batting standard for the position and Hodges didn't/doesn't meet it.

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