Gil Hodges…….A Forgotten Great ?
This question has been raised countless times and debated by baseball writers, sport talk radio hosts, as well as baseball fans throughout the country. At baseballsgreatesthitters.com, this presentation is based only on statistics, ranking, and the career numbers put up by Gil Hodges. As we all know, the Hall of Fame for the most part is all about the numbers or as we call it, the back of the baseball card. At a very early time in baseball history, Babe Ruth, statistically, set the bar at an extremely high level. Even today as the 2015 season comes to an end, no player has come close to putting up Ruth-like career numbers. Please keep in mind, before you review our research, all of the players currently in the Hall of Fame are not at the level of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays or Hank Aaron, to name a few. The players that are in the Hall of Fame are all “A” players, but with careers at different levels. At baseballsgreatesthitters.com we have put them into three categories, The “A+” Player, The “A” Player and The “A-“Player.
We will make reference to other players in our research, but without the intent of elevating or discrediting any of the accomplishments of these great players, to make a case to support or not to be supportive of Gil Hodges’ entry to Cooperstown. For example, if we feel Gil Hodges is a better player than player A, and player A is in Cooperstown, therefore Gil Hodges should be elected……that particular approach will not be used. The goal of our research is to have our readers review our work and kindly get back to us with your opinion.
Gil Hodges retired from baseball in 1963, and became eligible for the Hall of Fame vote in 1969, and after 15 years of falling short of the 75% required for election, his Hall of Fame entry was turned over to the Veterans Committee. From1983 and for the past 32 years he has been kept out of Cooperstown.
The Hall of Fame, as we said, for the most part is statistics driven, and baseball is, and has always been, the game of numbers.
Checking the back of the baseball card:
Gil Hodges 1943-1963
- 1943 only 2 major league at bats
- 1944-1945 Military Service
- 1946 –Minor League
- 1947-1957 Brooklyn Dodgers (age 23 to age 33)
- 1958- 1961 L. A. Dodgers
- 1962- 1963 N.Y. Mets
The record books list him as having an 18 year playing career, but it was actually a 12/13 year career.
Where does Gil Hodges rank in the rating system of baseballsgreatesthitters.com?
- All-Time Rank # 110
- Position Ranking # 26
- ERA Ranking – we have developed our own era grouping,though Gil Hodges official baseball career years are 1943- 1963 we have him listed in our era 4 group (1950- 1964 )his Era Ranking is # 13
- Era/Position Ranking #3
Our feeling has always been that players such as Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenberg and Johnny Mize, the first baseman who preceeded Gil Hodges, statistically, set the bar at a very high level for the first base position. Gil Hodges’ playing career actually began in 1947, and perhaps many baseball people felt his numbers simply did not match up well in comparison to those he followed.
When Jim Rice was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2009, his final year of eligibility, one of the main contributing factor to his election, was the fact that he was a dominant hitter in the American League for ten seasons. Don Mattingly, who was arguably the best hitter in baseball for six/seven seasons, falls short in the voting, and the main reason for the lack of support is “didn’t do it long enough, he needed another three/ four more productive seasons”….he falls short of the ten season mark.
Gil Hodges was a dominant hitter in the National League for 10 seasons. In fact, in the 1950’s he was the best hitting first baseman in all of baseball. From 1947 to 1957 he had eleven straight 20- plus home run seasons which included two 40 plus seasons and four seasons hitting 30 or more home runs.
Between 1949 and 1955 Gil Hodges put together a string of 7 consecutive seasons of 100 or more R.B.I.’s. To fully understand this accomplishment, it has never been matched by some of baseballs all-time greats.
Reggie Jackson had a total of six 100 R.B.I. seasons in his 21 year baseball career, other baseball greats who never topped the mark of having seven 100 R.B.I. seasons in their career, include: Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, Eddie Murray, Willie McCovey, Frank Robinson, Stan Musial, etc.
We all know Ebbets Field was a hitters park. Gil Hodges, along with other Dodger greats enjoyed the benefit of its hitter friendly dimensions. While Gil Hodges career did reflect favorable home field numbers, his numbers do not reflect the over- the- top type of splits as some of other all-time greats. Many baseball fans feel his numbers took a downward turn when the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn, this may be true, but at the time of the move in 1958, Gil was 34 years old. In that era of baseball most players in that age group saw a significant decrease in their numbers. Some of baseballs greats who enjoyed extremely favorable Home/Away splits: Ernie Banks, had an.830 career OPS, 886 at home and a .773 on the road, an astonishing 113 point split. Mel Ott, who for over sixty years was the National Leagues greatest home run hitter, hit 511 career home runs, he hit 323 at home while hitting 188 on the road, and Carl Yastrzemski, a career .285 hitter, hit 306 at home, while hitting .264 on the road, to go along with his .503 Slg.% at home and a 422 Slg.% on the road.
GIL HODGES/ HALL OF FAME RE-CAP
Once again, we are just reading the numbers, our research is based only on the career statistics of Gil Hodges. We do mention some of the baseball Hall of Famers in our work, but we did our best not to try to influence our readers by using player comparisons.
For a player to even be considered to be elected to baseballs Hall of Fame, after doing some research, the player must have ten dominant offensive seasons. Although he is ranked # 3 in the era/ position chart established by baseballsgreatesthitters.com (1950 to 1964) Gil Hodges is the greatest hitting first baseman of the decade, the 1950”s.
His career statistics do fall short of the numbers put up by his predecessors, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenberg, Johnny Mize and Bill Terry, but these players did set the bar at a very high level. We also feel playing in New York in the 1950’s, the career of Gil Hodges was overshadowed by playing in the same town with the likes of Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Yogi Berra, and fellow teammates Duke Snider, Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson, as well as the last seasons of Joe DiMaggio.
Home/ Away Splits, playing his prime years in Ebbets Field, a hitters park, he did have a home field benefit, but by no means was it a career changing home field advantage.
First Base…..An offensive position as well as a power position. Reading the career statistics of Gil Hodges, while his .273 average is not highly impressive, the fact is, it does top the career batting average of some of the baseball greats, which include, Harmon Killebrew at .256, Willie McCovey at .270 and Reggie Jackson at .262, ironically Reggie and Gil also share the same OPS career .
The Gold Glove Award was introduced in 1957, Gil Hodges won the first three awards in 1957, 1958, and 1959 at the age of 33, 34, and 35.Our website strictly deals with hitting, but we feel it is safe to consider Gil Hodges as one the best defensive First Baseman of his era.
At the time Gil Hodges was put on the ballot in 1969 there were only eight First Baseman in the Hall of Fame. In 1983, when his eligibility was in the hands of the Veterans Committee, there were seven First Baseman in Cooperstown elected by the committee, and since 1983 Orlando Cepeda remains the only First Baseman to enter Cooperstown by the Veterans Committee vote.
Similar Comparisons: At baseballsgreatesthitters.com, we feel using the rating system that we have developed, Gil Hodges compares favorably to Hall of Famers Tony Perez and Orlando Cepeda, and by the numbers, to some of the non Hall of Fame greats, Hal Trosky, Richie Allen and Fred McGriff ,who are all very close to Gil Hodges when comparing the numbers.
The list below are the major league first baseman that have made it to Cooperstown. As of January 1,2016 ten players were voted in while nine players were selected by the veterans committee. Please note, since the fate of Gil Hodges entry to the Hall of Fame in 1983 was in the hands of the veterans committee, Orlando Cepeda in 1999 has been the only first baseman elected to the Hall of Fame by the veterans committee. Our question is should Gil Hodges be included in the group of players listed below…
|Lou Gehrig||493||340||1939||1939||Sp. Election|
POWER NUMBERS: Did Gil Hodges hit for power? Let’s consider, when Gil Hodges retired in 1963, his 370 career home runs earned him the #11 spot on the all-time home run list.
THE 1963 CAREER HOME RUN LIST
Feel free to contact us and share your opinion. Also let us know if our research has changed your opinion on Gil Hodges / Hall of Fame.You can email us at joeangelini518@ aol.com, visit our website baseballsgreatesthitters.com or fill out the contact form below.
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