Alan Trammell and the Hall of Fame

The Wizard, Ozzie Smith, was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 7th round (146th overall pick) of the 1976 amateur draft. That added to a draft that had already seen the Tigers take Alan Trammell (2nd round), Dan Petry (4th), and Jack Morris (5th), all of whom played key roles in the success of the 1980’s Tigers teams, two of which have been hanging around on the Hall of Fame ballot for more than a decade. Had Smith signed with Detroit that year (he did not and was selected by the Padres in the 4th round the next year, then signed and was traded to St. Louis not long after that) he would have certainly created a log jam in the middle infield also occupied by Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker, who arguably created the Tiger’s greatest double play combination the City ever seen.

The Hall of Fame is a dubious subject (and a fun one!), and far be it from one opinion (there are over 500 voters at this point) to sway anyone’s beliefs. However, for the sake of objectivity I give you four similar players and their career statistics.

Player A

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

.OBP

.AVG

OPS+

WAR

FLD%

GG

2573

9396

1257

2460

402

69

28

793

580

.337

.262

87

64.6

.978

13

Player B

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

.OBP

.AVG

OPS+

WAR

FLD%

GG

2293

8288

1231

2365

412

55

185

1003

236

.352

.285

110

66.9

.977

4

Player C

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

.OBP

.AVG

OPS+

WAR

FLD%

GG

2390

8570

1386

2369

420

65

244

1084

143

.363

.276

116

69.7

.984

3

Player D

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

.OBP

.AVG

OPS+

WAR

FLD%

GG

2180

7937

1329

2340

441

76

198

960

379

.371

.295

116

68.9

.975

3

Player A is obviously Smith thanks to his 13 gold gloves. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002 with 91.7% of votes. That was the first year he was on the ballot. His offensive firepower always left something to be desired, but his defensive prowess was never questioned, ever, in the entire history of the game.

Player B is Alan Trammell. The quiet star was the backbone of the Detroit Tigers for nearly two decades and is currently on his 11th year on the ballot. Last year was the pinnacle of his voting prestige. He received 24.3% and has five more years (including this year) to receive 75% or he will drop off. Playing in the same era, Trammell trumped Smith in every offensive category, had the same fielding percentage (yes, a questionable statistic but no fielding statistic is a more viable option) and, you know, only 9 fewer gold gloves, which are an award only given to the most deserving of players year in and year out. (snark).

Player C was Lou Whitaker. He didn’t receive the minimum votes on his first appearance on the ballot (15 votes, or 2.9%) in 2001 and dropped off into oblivion. His stats mirrored Trammel’s, but as a second baseman he had a greater expectations (or something,) since the two previous examples were both shortstops. I threw that in there simply to point out that Whitaker shouldn’t have been cast away so fast. No, I’m not bitter or anything.

Player D was Barry Larkin, another short stop, and has a good chance of being voted in, if not this year, then most certainly next. Whitaker (even as a second basemen, yes, yes, I know) matched or bested him in all offensive categories, and for those who like to argue “championships” all four player won one in their careers.

The point is this: a player’s career is subject to individual interpretation. If there are enough people who believe a certain player was worthy, then there is little doubt, he will be voted in. There are plenty of voters out there who don’t deserve to have a HOF vote (I think the fellows over at The Platoon Advantage have put it best. If you aren’t familiar with the “Steroids and Plagiarists” stuff they’ve come up with, check it out, you won’t be disappointed) but somehow have one. There are plenty of fully qualified voters who do deserve, and have a vote.

The fact of the matter is this: The Hall of Fame is a difficult shrine to crack. Players stay on the ballot for 15 years. That means they are being considered for the Hall for two decades after they retire. To hear Tom Verducci tackle the Jack Morris debate the way he did and end it, wondering if he will vote next year, is fascinating. I wish all who were honored with a vote considered things the way he does (I’m referring to his opinion on Jeff Bagwell as well). He doesn’t say no and never consider a player again. He knows that there are years for the borderline players to be considered.

Should Alan Trammell be a Hall of Famer? I ask the hundreds of voters to ask themselves, does Barry Larkin deserve to be voted in and not Trammell? Or do Ozzie Smith’s Gold Gloves and defensive wizardry mean over 90% more than Lou Whitaker’s simple sure handedness? Jack Morris is borderline, no matter how many ways you spin it, that’s why I focused on stats in his post. But Alan Trammell is certainly comparable to Ozzie Smith and Barry Larkin, and doesn’t need to have his statistics cracked open and examined from multiple angles.

The issue with Trammell is this: how can you vote a certain shortstop in from the same era and not another? So yes, in my opinion Trammell should be voted in, it’s a shame he’s been on the ballot for so long, I hope he doesn’t fall off, but it’s nothing compared to the atrocity that has befallen Lou Whitaker. To receive 15 votes and be whisked away from consideration in his first year is a joke. I’m not saying that Lou is a Hall of Famer, I’m saying that he at least should have the right to be considered for as long as the other qualified candidates from his generation.

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