In honor of major league sports returning to Brooklyn for the first time since the Dodgers played their final game at Ebbets Field on Sept. 24, 1957, with the Nets about to make their debut at the Barclays Center on Nov. 1, and also with the New York Yankees falling short of a World Series championship, which the old Dodgers did every season except for 1955, having to "Wait Till Next Year!" -- here's a look at the greatest players in Brooklyn Dodgers history. We'll use WAR as the measuring stick (from Baseball Reference.com), and the list will only feature position players (Dazzy Vance is the top pitcher, with a 59.8 WAR, and he's followed by guys like Nap Rucker, Jack Pfeffer and Brickyard Kennedy). Here are the Top 5 Brooklyn players (with their WAR being for their years in Brooklyn only):
5. Gil Hodges, 35.2 WAR: The eight-time All-Star first baseman played in Brooklyn from 1947 to '57 (with three plate appearances in '43 followed by a few years in the Marines fighting in WWII), made eight All-Star teams, played in seven World Series and won three Gold Gloves (and most likely would have won more if that award were given out the first half of his career). Hodges played four more seasons with Dodgers in LA and then was an original member of the New York Mets, ending his career in '63. He hit 370 career home runs, with 1,274 RBIs, had a line of .273/.359/.487, an OPS+ of 120 and an .846 OPS. He slugged .500 or better in nine different seasons and drove in 100-plus runs seven times. His playing career along with his brilliance while managing the Mets should have been enough to put him in the Hall of Fame years ago.
4. Duke Snider, 53.9 WAR: Part of the trio of legendary New York center fielders in the 1950s, Snider spent 11 seasons in Brooklyn ('47 to '57), and in the last five he hit 40 or more home runs. In six of his seasons in Brooklyn, Snider drove in more than 100 runs and he slugged over .600 three times. He had a career line of .295/.380/.540, with a .919 OPS, 140 OPS+, 407 home runs and 1,333 RBIs. He played in five World Series with the Brooklyn Dodgers, made eight All-Star teams in his career and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1980. He spent five seasons with the LA Dodgers and finished his career playing for the Mets in '63 and San Francisco Giants in '64.
3. Zack Wheat, 56.5 WAR: The left fielder played with Brooklyn before they were Dem Bums, from 1909 to 1926 (and then finished his career with one season playing for the Philadelphia A's). Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1959, Wheat played in two World Series (1916, 1920), won a batting title (.335 in 1918) and led the NL in slugging in 1916 (.461). He had a lifetime .317 average, .367 OBP and .452 slugging percentage, for an.819 OPS and 130 OPS+, collected 2,804 hits (with three 200-plus seasons), drove in 1,210 runs and hit 131 home runs.
2. Jackie Robinson, 58.7 WAR: The most important player in baseball history just happens to be the greatest player in Brooklyn Dodger history. Robinson played for the Dodgers for 10 years (1947 to '56) and retired rather than play for the Giants when he was traded to the enemy. Robinson won the first Rookie of the Year award (which is now named for him), played in six World Series and six All-Star Games, won an MVP in '49 when he led the league in batting (.342), three times topped the league in WAR, twice led the league in stolen bases and once led the NL in OBP. His groundbreaking moment in history often overshadows what an awesome talent he was. He had a career .311 average, .409 OBP and .474 slugging percentage, with an .883 OPS and 132 OPS+, and 137 home runs and 734 RBIs.
1. Pee Wee Reese, 63.0 WAR: The little shortstop was the heart and soul of the Dodgers and was instrumental in his teammates accepting Robinson. Reese spent all but the last year of his career in Brooklyn, playing his swan song season in Los Angeles. He made his debut in 1940, missed three seasons due to the war and retired after the '58 season. He was a 10-time All-Star, played in seven World Series, four times led the NL in defensive WAR and eight times came in the top 10 voting for the MVP. He had a career line of .269/.366/.377, for a .743 OPS and 99 OPS+, with 2,170 hits, 126 home urns, 885 RBIs and 232 stolen bases. Reese was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1984.