Bob Gibson 1968: One Fluke Over The Redbirds' Nest

By Keith Glab 1/31/05

In 1930, Babe Herman had one of the best offensive seasons ever.  Herman was a player whose
offensive numbers merit Hall of Fame consideration, but he never made it due to durability and
defense.  Over 20% of his career value is from his huge 1930 season, which was probably the best
season ever for hitters:

Herman   1930   Rest of Career
AVG         .393          .316
OBP         .455          .374
SLG          .678         .514
RBI/G       .850         .620
Runs/G    .935         .528

Hitting Glossary

It's not that Herman wasn't above average in OPS and run production during the rest of his career,  but
his 1930 season, a season that also included a mega-fluke by Hack Wilson, grossly overstates his
abilities in  those categories.

---

In 1968, Bob Gibson had one of the best seasons pitching ever.  Gibson was a player whose pitching
statistics merit Hall of Fame consideration, and his spot was secured by excellent postseason play.  
Over 18% of his career value is from his huge 1968 season, which was probably the best year ever for
pitchers:

Gibson   1968   Rest of Career
ERA         1.12          3.06
RA           1.45          3.29
K/BB        4.32         2.25
WHIP       7.68         10.95
BIP%
vs  
          -57            -11
Team

Pitching Glossary

It's not that Gibson wasn't above average in ERA, K/BB, and BIP% during the rest of his career,  but
his 1968 season, perhaps the biggest pitching fluke season since 1914 (Dutch Hubert Leonard),
grossly overstates his abilities in all of those categories.

I don't mean to take anything away from hitters who dominated in 1930 or pitchers who dominated in
1968; being able to take advantage of a good situation is a key aspect to success in any field.   But the
fact that Gibson and Herman were
only really successful when the deck was stacked in their favor is a
point against them.

The Hall of Fame voters are not allowed to factor in single season accomplishments when deciding on
who belongs in the Hall (this is why Maris never made it).  So why should we do so when naming the
top 100 players of all-time?

Most top 100 lists have Gibson in the top 50.  Scott and Asher have him ranked in the low 50's.  If
you're going to rank him that high because of his one great season, then don't you have to do the
same thing for Babe Herman?

Now, I'm not saying that Babe Herman was a better player than Bob Gibson.  He wasn't.  But is he
really more than 50 spots lower?  And if we do rank Herman in the top 100, then doesn't Hack Wilson
also belong?

Wilson   1930   Rest of Career
AVG  
       .356          .300
OBP         .454          387
SLG         .723          .520
RBI/G       1.232       .942
Runs/G    .942         .619

If you're looking for good pitchers with one outstanding season, how about Dolf Luque or Ron Guidry?
These are pitchers who haven't been given much consideration for the Hall of Fame, and certainly
don't appear on anyone's top 100 list.  Yet they, like Gibson, had good careers with one terrific season
that augments their baseball card backs.

Consistency is all I ask.  Anyone who has Bob Gibson ranked among the top 50 players of all-time had
better find room for Herman, Wilson, Luque, and Guidry in their top 100 lists.

Keith ranked Bob Gibson as the 73rd best player of all-time in 2004.  Send your hate mail to
keith@baseballevolution.com.