A thought-provoking piece is up from the tremendous Brian Joura at Mets360.com about Gil Hodges’ Hall of Fame case. Joura writes:
“Hodges had a very fine playing career and seems by all accounts to have been an outstanding person, too. It’s a combination that has always led many people to conclude that he should be in the Hall of Fame. I’m sure it’s an argument I made myself in my younger days. But unfortunately it just doesn’t hold up to serious scrutiny.”
Joura makes the case that with Hodges’ WAR falling below that of Orlando Cepeda, 46.8 to 44.6, it is hard to justify his inclusion- especially with Cepeda himself a controversial pick. As I responded to Brian in his comments:
1. You seem to penalize Hodges twice for his era- bWAR, which has him essentially equal to Cepeda, already takes park/era into account. Speaking of WAR, World War II also delayed the start of his career.
2. You wrote that Hodges had three Gold Gloves- worth remembering that he won the first three ever awarded (began in 1957), and was the best-regarded defensive first baseman of his era for roughly a decade before that. In reality, his defensive case is far closer to a Keith Hernandez 11 GG) than, say, John Olerud (3 GG).
3. You write of his managerial career seperately, but they are combined in determining a candidate’s HOF worthiness.
Put another way, Hodges’ case is Cepeda offense plus Hernandez-level defense and a World Championship as a manager. I think he belongs.
The Hodges case itself is filled with close calls- most famously when his supporter Roy Campanella missed a Veterans’ Committee vote due to illness, and Hodges fell a single vote shy. I can’t claim to be unbiased here- my father was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, loved Hodges, and we both belong to the Gil Hodges for the Hall of Fame mailing list. My hope is that this year’s version of the Veterans’ Committee sees it my way. The vote will be held on December 5. Here’s hoping all of Hodges’ supporters are feeling well enough to attend.
UPDATE: Brian has responded to my response, and I have responded to his response to my response. Worth checking out over in the comments section of his site.