Los Angeles Dodgers Hall of Very Good: Gil Hodges
Five straight seasons of 30+ home runs, seven straight seasons with 100+ RBI, eight All-Star appearances, two Gold Gloves, and even a World Series title as a manager. One would think that those are some pretty solid credentials to bring Cooperstown calling.
For Gil Hodges, he never received that call.
For 16 seasons, Hodges manned first base for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers and was a force in the middle of a batting order that included Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Pee Wee Reese, and Duke Snider, all of whom have plaques in Cooperstown. During his Dodgers days, Hodges hit a combined .274/.360/.488 with 361 home runs and 1254 RBI. He ranks second among Dodgers in home runs and RBI (behind only Snider), and seventh with a 41.6 fWAR. He also owns a career wRC+ of 121 with Brooklyn/Los Angeles.
From 1948 to 1961, only one other first baseman in baseball had a better fWAR that Gil Hodges’ mark of 41.9. That was Stan Musial, who nearly doubled Hodges with an 83.0 mark. Musial also outpaced him in home runs, RBI, wRC+, batting average, and nearly every other offensive category. It’s hard enough to make a case for yourself as a player when you are on a loaded roster with five other Hall of Famers but then add in the fact that Hodges had to do it under the same position as one of the greatest hitters to ever play the game.
The fact that Hodges didn’t win election as a player continues to be a question today. His original candidacy was torpedoed by the fact that he played in an era where he was among the best, but could never stand out above the crowd. He never led the league in any of the major offensive categories, never won placed higher than seventh in an MVP ballot, and was surrounded by talent on a very good team.
As years have gone on, he’s been faced with the various Veterans’ committees voting on prior eras to justify induction. The problem is now that there has been the introduction of more advanced statistics, the bar is continually moving higher for some fringe players. JAWS, for instance, is not friendly to Hodges, ranking him 40th among the first basemen (38.8) and well below the threshold of induction, which sits at 54.8.
While Hodges has a case on some fronts, it is unlikely that his performance will be recognized from a player perspective, and he’ll have to settle for being one of the very good, but not best players of all-time.