No. 404 Gil Hodges (Number 43 First Base)

There is controversy right now on the Bill James site on Gill Hodges and the hall of fame.  Here is what I think about Gil Hodges in the Hall of Fame. I have 181 players who I think made it on points with my formula and you need a good reason to not include them in my Hall of Fame. I have 225 players that didn’t make the Hall of Fame on points but have enough points that I don’t mind them being elected. Of course, they can have something else on their resume besides points for playing the game. Gil Hodges is one of the 225 players.

One of the problems is Gil Hodges is one of the players that are really low on my list. I have him as the 43rd best career as a first baseman. Baseball Reference JAWs has him 40th. So, Hodges has a lot of work to move up the list.

He won’t do it on black ink. He has a score of two in black ink as he led the league in games played twice. Not the most exciting category.

One argument with Gil Hodges was he played on great teams. He certainly did that as he played on some of the greatest teams of all time with the Brooklyn Dodgers in the early 1950s. He stayed around long enough to help the Dodgers when a World Series in 1959 until he started to fade. Hodges played on 7 pennant winners, 6 as a started.

However, he did have some excellent teammates. In the World Series in which Hodges hit .000 I looked at the 8 position player starters. Basically, Hodges was the 5th best starter on the team career wise. He picked good teammates. However, did you know that the four players ahead of Hodges can all be considered in the top 10 at their position.  Let us look:

  • Roy Campanella – Catcher. I have him 13th at catcher, but only because his career was so short. Bill James had him 3rd in his last Historical Abstract as he weights peak more. In first Historical Abstract James rated Campanella the best at his peak. I was considering moving Campanella up, but he had some years he didn’t hit well between his MVP years. He probably played hurt those years because he was such a good defensive catcher.
  • Jackie Robinson – Second Base. I have him 5th and Bill had him 4th. We know all about him.
  • Pee Wee Reese – Shortstop. Both Bill James and I have him in 10th.
  • Duke Snider – Center Field. Bill James had him 6th and I have him 8th as I have Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Trout passing him.

At first, I thought the Dodgers would be as well off with Ted Kluszewski in those years of the dynasty. However, from what I read and from his stats I would say that Hodges was a better (probably a lot better) fielder then Kluszewski. Hodges also won a couple of gold gloves when the award was given late in his career. The Dodgers probably needed a player like Hodges then a pure slugger like Kluszewski in my opinion. Also remember earlier when I mention that Hodges led the league in games played. He was in the lineup more than Kluzewski which is helpful to a team.

However, the big thing everybody remembers is Hodges leading the Mets to the World Series in 1969. It is the most famous modern baseball miracle. To some it is enough to put him over the line. I am probably more agreeable on that than Bill James. Gill Hodges has received and deserves a lot of credit to guiding that team to a World Series title. It was a young team, but Bill used his starting pitching and all of his position players (using a lot of platooning) to bring the team to the title. One thing I noticed was after 72 games the Mets were playing solid baseball and were 40-32. For the rest of the season the went 60-30. Playing at that pace would be 108 wins during the regular season, which was only one game less than the Orioles one. Considering the National League was the better league, they were playing at least as good of baseball as the Orioles the last few months of the season.

However, I had some concerns. That is only one year on his managerial resume. One problem with his resume is that Hodges manage only 9 years before he died of a heart attack at the age of 47. Another problem is that he managed two new franchises that didn’t have a winning season before he managed them.

He did a good job in Washington slowly improving the team to .500 each season. After getting some improvement in the Mets in 1968, he won the World Title in 1969. He had the team over .500 in 1970 and 1971 but not really in contention either year.  However, Chris Jaffe in his book “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers gave Hodges a score of +65 in his nine years as a manager. That in itself wasn’t that great. However, he said towards the end of the book that Hodges was the only manager with a sub .475 won loss percentage with a positive score. I like what Jaffe has done with the formula. I don’t believe it is 100 percent accurate but does tell you something about the manager. I think this help confirms that Hodges did a notable job in his whole career as a manager.

One thing Jaffe said is that Hodges used his bench more than anybody. In part because he didn’t have the big hitters in his lineup.

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