Joe Gordon Headed to Cooperstown: The Hall Embarrasses Itself Yet Again
The Veteran's Committee has spoken and, as usual, their selection this year is dubious at best. A cursory examination of the least-qualified players in the Hall of Fame, such as George Kelly (1973), Freddie Lindstrom (1976), George Kell (1983), Ernie Lombardi (1986), Phil Rizzuto (1994) displays a clear and consistent pattern: The Hall's worst picks come from the Veteran's Committee. Gordon is no exception.
Let's look at Joe Gordon's career, starting with the arguments for his Hall of Fame induction. Joe Gordon was a very good second baseman for most of his 11-year major league career. He was considered by his contemporaries to be the best defensive second baseman of his era, hit for good power (especially for a middle infielder), won the 1942 MVP award, and served his country for two years during World War II. He won five World Series, four with the Yankees and one with the Indians.
OK. Now, the negative.
Joe Gordon was a .268 career hitter. He hit for power, but not exceptional, Hall of Fame-type power. His career OPS+ was 120. Ron Santo's was 125 and Dick Allen's was 156. Some people might argue that Santo and Allen are Hall of Fame-caliber players as well, and thus this is not an entirely fair comparison. Fine. Bob Watson's career OPS+ was 129. Is Bob Watson a Hall of Famer?
True, Gordon did play a demanding defensive position, and he did play it well, so it's not entirely fair to fixate on the fact that he wasn't as good of a hitter as people who played primarily offensive positions. I can accept that, but even cutting him a break on his batting average and OPS+, we run into a ton of other issues regarding his worthiness.
Gordon played 11 major league seasons. Eleven. Even if we give him the two years he missed for World War II back, he only has 13 major league seasons.
Gordon was a good defensive second baseman, but he was not regarded by his contemporaries to be a brilliant second baseman; he was regarded much like Ryne Sandberg, a good-to-very-good fielder and the best hitting second baseman of his time. He was not Bill Mazeroski with power.
Yeah, he won the 1942 American League MVP, but how much is that really worth? How much is that really worth when Ted Williams is in the league and wins the triple crown? Gordon's selection is regarded by many to be among the worst in the history of the award. Just like his selection to the Hall of Fame.
Gordon was a very good player. He was not a truly great player, he was not a dominant player, he had an extremely short career (even giving him back his wartime seasons), and he had a season in which he hit .210, right in the middle of what should have been his prime.
This was 1946, his first year back from the war. If the war affected the abilities of his contemporaries, it's certainly not obvious. Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial, and Hank Greenberg pretty much picked up where they left off when they got back. Congratulations, Hall of Fame. With your selection of Joe Gordon, you've moved one step closer to irrelevancy.
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