Year Inducted: 1968 (BBWAA, 9th Ballot, 240/283)
Well, it would be tough to blame them. Like in other previous entries, it seems evident that one single event can dictate whether a player gets inducted into the Hall of Fame. Be it a record (Hack Wilson) or a great event (Bill Mazeroski) can seem to be a catalyst for induction, despite other shortcomings. Similarly today’s player, Joe Medwick, may not have made it if not for winning the Triple Crown in 1937.
Ducky Medwick was one of the most feared hitters of the late 1930s, hitting a robust .324/.362/.504 for a wRC+ of 133. He amassed over 200 home runs along with 540 doubles and 113 triples to help him gain over 2400 hits. He was a dynamic hitter, driving in almost 1400 runs and scoring nearly 1200 times in his great career. While not a great baserunner, he did manage to steal 42 bases in his career and was a slightly positive baserunner according to Fangraphs. He was also a solid fielder, especially early in his career, being worth 45 fielding runs.
And that 1937 season was a magical one, wasn’t it? Medwick led the NL in several offensive categories (besides the average/HR/RBI ones of the Triple Crown), including total bases, wRC+, slugging percentage, doubles, hits and runs scored. It was one of the most dominating offensive performances of the decade, and obviously fast-tracked Medwick for Cooperstown.
So, with all that gushing it must be a mistake that Medwick ranks so low on these rankings, right? He was an awesome hitter, solid fielder and OK base runner, so why isn’t he higher? Two reasons for that. The first is that this study has crossed another threshold, into the part of the Hall of Fame where it’s important to recognize that there are just a lot of players that are great and it’s no disrespect to be in the top 150 or 160 of a game that’s been around since the mid-1800s. The other is, like a lot of other players, Medwick’s career and power dwindled quickly due to an injury. Not too long after joining the Dodgers, Medwick was drilled in the head by his old team (the Cardinals), which gave him a concussion. He wound up in the hospital for a few days and returned way too quickly. He would go on to have a couple of decent power years (14 and 18 home runs respectfully), but he wasn’t hitting the ball as hard anymore. Following the 1941 season, he never topped double digit home runs again and spent the last 7 seasons of his career flashing occasional glimpses of his greatness, but being a much closer to league average hitter.
Medwick was an excellent pick for the Hall of Fame, and a great way to kick off the core Hall of Famers, the ones whose names are easily recalled as being the greatest of all-time. As Anakin Skywalker put it
Stay tuned for the next update.
On deck, 9/3/16: After talking endlessly about some of his picks from the Veteran’s Committee, it’s finally time to talk about the man himself. The hard-swinging first baseman from the NY Giants is on tap.