In an era of big boppers like Jimmy Foxx and Mel Ott, guys like Stan Hack could have easily fallen through the cracks. Unfortunately.
Stan Hack was, undeniably, one of the best third basemen of his time. His 2,193 total hits were more than any other third baseman collected from 1932 to 1947, the span of his career. He was a prodigious walker and a top base stealer when base stealing wasn’t in vogue. Defensively, he was superb, as he was above average in fielding percentage and range factors. So, why isn’t he well remembered? For one – he wasn’t a big slugger. In total, he had 57 career home runs. Hank Greenberg and Jimmy Foxx hit more than 57 home runs in a single season while Hack was playing. It’s easy to see why he was overshadowed.
Luckily, we humans have this thing called hindsight. And now, we can look back in time and see just what kind of a player Stan Hack was – a good, scratch that, a great one. Great enough to be an All-Star five times and to garner MVP votes eight times.
In his 16-year career, he led the league in a few categories, but he never led a category a lot. For example, at one point or another he led the league in games, plate appearances, hits, stolen bases, singles and times on base, however he never led a specific category more than three times. While he didn’t lead the league much, he was often in the top ten in a few categories. For example, although he led the league in stolen bases only twice, he was in the top five seven times and in the top ten nine times. He was in the top ten in on-base percentage eight times, in runs eight times (three times finishing in second place), hits seven times, and walks ten times.
Speaking of walks, did I mention that he was a prodigious walker? Not once did he ever walk more than strikeout in a season. Not once did he strikeout more than 45 times in a season, although he walked over 75 times in nine seasons. Although he never led the league in walks, he finished in the top five seven times and in the top ten 10 times. Over the span of his career, he walked 1,092 times – more than any other third baseman in that 16 year span.
If you take a player’s playoff performances into consideration when determining whether someone is worthy of the Hall of Fame or not, then Hack does not disappoint. Although he hit only .227 in the 1935 World Series, he more than made up for it in his next two Fall Classics by hitting .471 in 1938 and .367 in 1945, finishing with a career postseason batting average of .348.
What’s keeping Stan Hack out of the Hall of Fame? This one’s easy: currently, there are a bunch of other third basemen waiting in line, more recent third basemen that are fresher in our minds (namely, Ron Santo, Graig Nettles and even Ken Boyer) and that list will grow even larger as time passes, with names like Chipper Jones and Scott Rolen being added. Hack is just going to get pushed further and further back. Furthermore, a few would contend that Hack’s era is overrepresented – adding a guy with a .301 batting average, 2,193 hits and only 57 home runs is not a top priority. Unfortunately, less worthy people Like Freddie Lindstrom snuck in, forcing that overrepresentation, and making it all the more difficult for Hack to get in. It should be noted that not a single third baseman who retired in the 1940s is in the Hall of Fame.
Of course, I still think Hack is Hall of Fame worthy. He’s the most worthy third baseman from that era, if you ask me. His early omission is understandably because there was an overwhelming amount of sluggers and offensive talents, but now that we have cleared the waters from that area and we can see who was left out, we should be able to tell that Mr. Hack was unfairly snubbed. Unfortunately.
Tags: Baseball, Hall of Fame