Year Inducted: 1985 (BBWAA, ballot #1, 315/395)
In 1964, the St. Louis Cardinals were at a turning point in their history. Their greatest player, Stan Musial, had retired at the end of 1963. Longtime fan favorite, Red Schoendienst, had also retired (despite playing for other teams in his career) but wasn’t yet manager (he would take over for current manager Johnny Keane after the season). They finished second in Stan’s last year, and were floundering at 28-31 come mid June of 1964, 7 games out of first place. It was then that they made a trade that at the time was immediately panned. They traded one of their top pitchers (Ernie Broglio), along with a couple of other pieces to the Cubs (of all places) for a struggling 25 year old left fielder and two other bit players. How did that trade work out? Broglio hurt his arm and was never the same, the bit players remained bit players, but that struggling outfielder became a near instant team icon, and ran all the way to the Hall of Fame.
Lou Brock, despite being part of one of the most one-sided trades of all-time, was an incredibly exciting and dynamic player. In 19 seasons, Brock hit .293/.343/.410 for a wRC+ of 109. Brock collected over 3000 hits in his career, including 149 home runs, 486 doubles and 141 triples. Brock spent most of his years at the top of the lineup, so he didn’t get many chances to drive in runs (still drove in 900, so he did execute with the few opportunities he had), but managed to score over 1600 times, thanks to his primary asset-speed.
Brock was one of the greatest base runners ever. He stole a then-record 938 bases in his career, including a then-record of 118 in 1974. On the base paths, Brock was worth nearly as much as he was at the plate. He was worth only 112 runs as a hitter (and lets be fair, a left fielder without power has a tough time stacking up against a lot of the other left fielders in the game), but 75 as a base runner, 4th all-time at his retirement behind only players from the Dead Ball Era.
As was previously alluded to, Brock’s lack of power from a traditional power position makes it difficult for him to rank very highly. A lot of advanced numbers also have him pegged as a poor defender, and with his lack of power it is tough for him to overcome that from a value perspective. Brock never really had a truly great season from an advanced perspective; no super high batting averages (.313 career best), no high OBP (nothing above .400), and a career high of 21 homers. There’s a solid case to be made that he was a bit of a compiler, more based on longevity than anything else. However, Brock was one of the best base-runners of all-time, and combining that with 3000 hits makes him an easy selection for the Hall of Fame.
Stay tuned for the next update.
On deck 10/7/16 is a pitcher who used to hold the record for most home runs surrendered in a career.