Year Inducted: 1959 (Veterans Committee)
The Dodgers were one of the original teams in the National League. This means that they’ve been around for a long time, and as such have had a lot of great players on their teams. As far as hitters go, the Dodgers have been blessed to have both Jackie Robinson and Duke Snider, along with players like Roy Campanella and Mike Piazza on their teams for long stretches of time. But, none of them hold the Dodgers’ records for hits, doubles or even total bases. No, the man that leads in many Dodger categories is Zack Wheat.
Wheat was a superb member of the Dodgers (then the Superbas or Robins) for all but one of his 19 year career. He hit .317/.367/.450 in his career, with a wRC+ of 128. Wheat collected 132 homers along with 476 doubles and 172 triples in his career, scoring and driving in nearly 1300 runs each. Wheat was one of the more complete players of the era. While obviously skilled with the bat (he finished his career just shy of 3000 hits and ranked 10th upon retirement), stole over 200 bases and was adept at patrolling left field.
On the surface, Wheat’s numbers don’t look quite as impressive as a lot of other players covered lately. However, like with many of the older greats, they need to be compared to their era. Wheat only hit 132 home runs in his career, yes, but when he retired he ranked eighth all-time. His RBI total ranked 17th. His doubles total ranked 7th. His triples ranked 17th. His fWAR ranked 19th. Wheat wasn’t the best during his time, of course. His numbers can’t compare to Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker or Babe Ruth. However, he could easily beat most other guys.
His place in Dodger history is also very secure. The only Dodger to produce more fWAR than Wheat was Duke Snider, while Wheat still leads the Dodgers, or is close to the top, in many offensive categories.
Wheat was definitely a star of the Dead Ball Era, a guy that hit for power when a lot of players couldn’t. His enshrinement was well deserved.
Stay tuned for the next update.
On deck 9/28/16 After covering one half of the “Heavenly Twins” from the Boston Braves, and really not agreeing with his selection to the Hall of Fame, what chance does the other half have?