Adrián Beltré tops a long list of former Dodgers with Hall of Fame credentials who aren’t in Cooperstown, although he’ll probably be invited as early as 2024, his first year of eligibility for the ballot.
Those are five former Dodgers with strong cases for Cooperstown, though the list for consideration could include Jeff Kent, Andruw Jones, Orel Hershiser, Tommy John, Adrián González, Chase Utley, Fred McGriff, Dick Allen, Kenny Lofton -- and that's not even getting into the Brooklyn days.
While Hodges and Garvey were bypassed at a time when the voting writers were stingier with their selections, more players are being honored in recent years, which benefits players like Beltré.
Here's a look at the Top 5 cases:
1) Adrián Beltré
Signed out of the Dominican Republic as a teenager and rushed to the big leagues at age 19, Beltré's unceremonious departure after 6 1/2 seasons left Dodgers fans wondering what might have been. But the club let the most talented third baseman in franchise history walk after being the MVP runner-up to clear payroll space for the signing of J.D. Drew, who opted out after two seasons.
Meanwhile, Beltré went on to a Hall of Fame trajectory elsewhere in one of the more ill-advised decisions in club annals. He’s a five-time Gold Glove winner, a four-time All-Star and a four-time Silver Slugger -- but the only hardware he won as a Dodger was one Silver Slugger.
2) Gil Hodges
Hodges was a member of the Boys of Summer in Brooklyn, but was overshadowed by eventual Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Roy Campanella and Pee Wee Reese. He was a powerful hitter and a graceful fielder. Only Mel Ott and Willie Mays had more consecutive 100-RBI seasons than Hodges’ seven. He had nine fewer home runs than Tony Pérez in 2,748 fewer at-bats. He was an eight-time All-Star and won the Gold Glove the first three years it was given.
Hodges missed 2 1/2 seasons serving in the Marines during World War II, including a stint fighting on Okinawa, but still played on seven pennant winners and two World Series champions. From 1949-59, he averaged 30 HRs and 101 RBIs per season. From 1943-63, his 370 HRs trailed only Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Eddie Mathews, Stan Musial and Snider -- all Hall of Famers.
3) Steve Garvey
Garvey, a 10-time All-Star, was the biggest name of the record-setting infield of 8 1/2 seasons that included second baseman Davey Lopes, shortstop Bill Russell and third baseman Ron Cey. From 1974-80, Garvey was the epitome of consistency, with a batting average between .297 and .319 and an OPS between .808 and .852, never finishing lower than 14th in MVP voting. He was at his clutch best in the postseason, with a .910 OPS.
Garvey's NL record of 1,307 consecutive games played will probably never be broken. He was a hit machine, with at least 200 of them in six different seasons. He peaked in Hall of Fame voting his first year of eligibility at 41.6 percent.
4) Gary Sheffield
Sheffield and Ramirez, despite their reputations, make this Top 5 list because their offensive impact is impossible to ignore.
Sheffield was a nine-time All-Star and five-time Silver Slugger with a batting title and World Series win.
If you're looking for simply the best 3 1/2 offensive seasons from a Dodgers left fielder, that would be Sheffield from 1998-2001. He was twice an All-Star, with an average slash line of .312/.420/.581 in his three full Dodgers seasons. He wasn’t fazed by the drama surrounding the trade that brought him to L.A. for Mike Piazza and might have ranked higher with better defense.
5) Manny Ramirez
Ramirez’s time in L.A. was brief and tumultuous, but it also included an unthinkable three-month stint after his 2008 midseason acquisition in which he hit .396 in 53 games down the stretch and .520 in two rounds of the postseason.
In 19 Major League seasons, Ramirez went to 12 All-Star Games, won nine Silver Sluggers and a batting title and was a two-time World Series champion, receiving World Series MVP honors for the Red Sox in 2004. He hit 555 home runs with a slash line of .312/.411/.585 over the course of his career.
Honorable mention: Maury Wills has always been an overlooked player because his best tool was baserunning. Supporters praise him for revolutionizing that part of the game.