Second chances should be these Dodger greats’ ticket to the Hall | by Cary Osborne | January 2022

Orel Hershiser and Fernando Valenzuela (Photo by Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

by Cary Osborne

Now that Gil Hodges has been elected to the Hall of Fame, is there another great Dodger who will hit the road with the second chance offered by Hall-era committees?

Hodges has had a career 43.9 WAR, as calculated by the Baseball Reference statistic. He was one of the most productive hitters of the 1950s, considered one of baseball’s gentlemen, and led the “Miracle Mets” from 1969 to the franchise’s first World Series title.

The committees deem the players no longer eligible for election by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. They vote based on the player’s “record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team or teams the player has played on”.

Although the average bWAR for Hall of Famers is 66 to 67, WAR is not the ultimate measure for a Hall of Famer. Hodges is an example of this, as is longtime Chicago White Sox designated hitter/outfielder Harold Baines, who in 2019 was elected to the Today’s Play Committee with a career WAR of 38.7.

The following players were worth roughly the same number of wins over substitution (or better) with the Dodgers alone and made other contributions that place them among the greatest players in franchise history. But they have yet to earn a plaque at Cooperstown.

Willie Davis: 54.6 bWAR with Dodgers 1960–1973
(60.7 bWAR career 1960–1979)
Davis has the highest bWAR earned as a Dodger not in the Hall of Fame. Yet he’s never appeared on a Hall of Fame ballot — not on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America or ERA committee ballot, despite an 18-year career with 2,561 hits. , 398 stolen bases and 182 home runs. He is one of 10 all-time players with at least 2,500 hits, 350 stolen bases and 150 homers – seven are in the Hall of Fame.

Davis averaged 4.0 bWAR, which puts the two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove center fielder at near-All-Star level each season.

Davis’ best MVP result was 16th and peaked in 1969 with an .811 OPS – the season he set a franchise-record 31-game hitting streak. He had a .279/.311/.412 career slant line.

Baseball Reference has a Hall of Fame Career Standards gauge, with a score of 50 being an average Hall of Famer and 100 being the maximum score. Davis is 28 years old. (Hodges is 32.)

Ron Cey: 47.7 bWAR with Dodgers 1971–1982
(53.8 bWAR career 1971–1987)

Ron Cey (Los Angeles Dodgers)

Cey retired as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ all-time home run leader at 228 before Eric Karros passed him in 2000.

He is one of the top 10 third basemen (90% of games played at that position) all-time with at least 300 homers. Three are in the Hall of Fame (Mike Schmidt, Eddie Mathews and Ron Santo). Scott Rolen was on the last ballot – he was voted on 63.2% of the ballots in his fifth year – and Adrian Beltré will be eligible in 2024.

Cey had a career .799 OPS, 316 home runs and 1,868 hits and averaged 4.2 WAR per season. He also had a career .803 OPS and seven homers in 45 playoff games and was co-MVP of the 1981 World Series.

Highest BBWAA vote percentage (75% needed for election): 1.9%
Eras committee ballot appearances (75% needed for election): did not appear
BR HOF standards: 29

Nap Rucker: 47.1 bWAR with Dodgers 1907–1916
(47.1 bWAR career 1907–1916)

Nap Rucker 1909 American Tobacco Company baseball card

One of the rarely talked about cases is that of Rucker, who was one of the greatest left-handed pitchers of the Dead Ball era – so beloved by the Dodger organization that he had his own day on October 2, 1916. , when the rumor ran. that his arm had nothing more to give and that he was going to retire.

Rucker played in 44 games in his last three seasons, but in his previous seven years in the Major League he had a 2.39 ERA and an average of 6.4 WAR shots per season. He pitched a no-hitter on September 5, 1908.

Overall, it had an MPM of 2.42 and 47.1 bWAR. When he retired, he ranked eighth in National League history in the ERA among pitchers with at least 2,000 career innings. He ranks fourth all-time in the ERA among lefties.

Highest BBWAA Vote Percentage: 6.4%
Appearances in the Eras committee ballot:
did not appear
BR HOF standards:
23

Orel Hershiser: 44.4 bWAR with Dodgers 1983–1994, 2000
(56.0 bWAR career 1983–2000)

Between 1984 and 1989, “The Bulldog” had a 2.68 ERA, averaged 241 runs per season, finished four in the top four in the Cy Young Award, and won the 1988 Cy Young Award. He was the 1988 NLCS and World Series MVP and broke Don Drysdale’s MLB scoreless innings record.

Hershiser was on a Hall of Fame trail before a 1990 right shoulder injury threatened his career and led to innovative reconstructive surgery that kept him alive. Although not as dominant afterward, Hershiser was still a valuable starting pitcher, winner, and the 1995 ALCS MVP with Cleveland.

Hershiser went 204-150 with 2,014 strikeouts and 3,130 1/3 innings pitched. There have been 41 all-time pitchers with at least 200 wins, 2,000 strikeouts and 3,000 innings in their careers, and 29 are in the Hall of Fame. Three players are on the current Hall of Fame ballot and one player is active.

Hershiser had a 2.59 ERA in 132 playoff innings. He has the sixth-best ERA of all time among pitchers who have amassed at least 100 playoff innings.

Highest BBWAA Vote Percentage: 11.2%
Appearances in the Eras committee ballot: 2017 (31.3%), 2019 (31.3%)
BR HOF standards: 34

jim gilliam: 40.8 bWAR with Dodgers 1953–1966
(45.0 career bWAR 1946–1966)

Jim Gilliam (Los Angeles Dodgers)

Gilliam finished in the top six MVPs by voting twice, was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1953 and one of the toughest players to knock out in Major League history. His strikeout rate per bat ranks 30th all-time, according to Baseball Reference. With Negro League stats now recognized as Major League stats, Gilliam is now at 2,016 hits. He had a .266/.360/.355/.716 career line.

Gilliam became a Dodgers coach after his playing days.

His №19 was retired by the Dodgers after Gilliam died at age 49 before the 1978 World Series.

It is the Dodgers’ only retired number for a player or manager who is not in the Hall of Fame.

Highest BBWAA Vote Percentage: Never appeared on the ballot
Appearances in the Eras committee ballot: did not appear
BR HOF standards: 28

Fernando Valenzuela: 36.8 bWAR with 1980–90 Dodgers
(41.4 bWAR career 1980–1997)
Valenzuela was a transcendent baseball player and cultural icon whose stats aren’t the whole story – although they were also pretty strong.

The Mexican left-handed pitcher launched Fernandomania in 1981 with an incredible start, allowing two runs in his first seven starts (63 innings) and throwing five shutouts. He remains the only player to win Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young Award in the same season.

Between 1981 and 1986, he was an All-Star every season, had a 2.97 ERA and averaged 256 innings and 210 strikeouts. He pitched a no-hitter in 1990 and leads all Mexican-born pitchers in wins (170), strikeouts (2,074), innings pitched (2,930), shutouts (31), complete games (113) and departures (424).

Additionally, he had a career 2.00 ERA in eight postseason starts.

Highest BBWAA Vote Percentage: 6.2%
Appearances in the Eras committee ballot: did not appear
BR HOF standards: 25

Steve Garvey: 36.6 bWAR with 1969–87 Dodgers
(38.1 bWAR career 1980–1997)
The 10-time All-Star and 1974 NL MVP holds the NL record for consecutive games played (1,207). Garvey was the 1981 major league recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award – an honor given to players for exemplifying the spirit of the late Hall of Famer whose humanitarian service and excellence on the field set a standard for all players baseball.

Garvey won the Gold Glove Award four times, had six 200-hit seasons and 20 home run seasons. He batted .338/.361/.550 with 11 home runs in 55 playoff games, earning MVP honors in 1978 and 1984.

Highest BBWAA Vote Percentage: 42.6%
Appearances in the Eras committee ballot: 2011 (50%), 2014 (percentage unpublished), 2018 (percentage unpublished), 2020 (37.5%)
BR HOF standards: 32

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