By: Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning
Hall of Fame voting is upon us again and this week we will find out who got in and who didn’t. We have the usual issues to consider and we will have all the same questions about why some players get in and why others do not.
This ultimately brings us to the Tigers and the continued wonder about how some of our all-time favorites continue to be overlooked.
1. Why is Alan Trammell having such a tough time getting into the Hall of Fame?
The only thing that I have been able to come up with is that when all stats are equal, entrance into the Hall becomes a popularity contest.
Who is the most flamboyant? Who has the most flair and personality? Who plays in the largest market?
Alan Trammell does not lack for statistics and longevity having starred alongside Lou Whitaker for 18 years with the Tigers. But you will never get through a conversation about Trammell without Lou Whitaker. They are a package deal and it’s only right that they enter the Hall together.
Baseball has never seen a keystone combination with the excellence and longevity of Trammell and Whitaker. It’s truly a unique baseball story and there is only one appropriate ending that will need to be supported by the Veteran’s Committee.
Without a doubt, Tram should be a Hall of Famer as the majority of his stats equal or surpass those of Barry Larkin, who is already there. But as Leo Durocher once said, “Nice guys finish last” and it’s because both the Tigers and Tram were too humble and too quiet about his achievements – major factors in why he’s not yet inducted.
For decades, the Tigers have operated under the radar with little to no branding strategy. Unlike the majority of teams, they have not retired popular player numbers nor created their own Hall of Fame. They also have never gone to bat in promoting their players like other organizations when their names come up for Hall of Fame consideration.
Combine this lack of recognition by the home team with the fact that many of the writers who watched him play are now retired and no longer voting. What should younger journalists think when they see that Tram has not been officially honored in any capacity by Detroit? Barry Larkin was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame 5 years before he was voted into Cooperstown.
I’ve read that many of the baseball writers who have voting rights don’t perform due diligence in selecting their candidates for the Hall. If the Tigers and Tram don’t talk up his accomplishments and the relevance of his work, who will?
2. Are Lou Whitaker and Jack Morris also deserving of Hall of Fame induction?
Although Lou Whitaker is one of the greatest Tiger second baseman of all time, he will never get his due. Whitaker during his playing days was more withdrawn and rarely liked to make himself available to the media. He never had much to say.
And now with a team that does nothing to promote their own history of stars, guys like Trammell, Whitaker and even Jack Morris don’t have that national appeal.
In most cases, there is a magic number for starting pitchers to qualify for the Hall of Fame. And that number is 300. For hitters, it’s 3,000 and for pitchers, it’s 300. Any pitcher who doesn’t have 300 wins on his resume needs a laundry list of accomplishments if they are going to draw the media attention they need to qualify for the Hall of Fame.
Jack Morris pitched a no-hitter, won 4 World Championships and was a 5 time All-Star. But 300 is usually the magic number. Jack sits at 254, and never in any season did he have an ERA under 3; numbers that hold him back.
As much as I loved both Lou and Jack, I have to admit that they are not part of that 1% worthy of the Hall of Fame. I am trying not to hold my breath waiting for the Tigers Hall of Fame to be created in which they should be sitting.
Morris is especially tricky as he was a very good pitcher for many, many years – but not a dominant one. But he never won, or even came close, to winning a major in-season award which is considered an essential ingredient for entering Cooperstown.
His .577 W-L ranks in the lower third of the 74 pitchers in the Hall but his whopping 3.90 lifetime ERA is not at all in line with those in the Hall. Combine that stat with the fact that he gave up the most hits, ERs and HRs of any pitcher in the 1980’s and you have the rationale for why he’s not in the Hall.
There are only 20 second basemen in the Hall and in comparison, Lou’s batting stats fall on the low side while his fielding ranks better. But it was often mentioned that he played without flair and had consistently very good, not great seasons – with no monster year or two that is characteristic of the others enshrined. The latter, along with some major awards (other than Rookie of the Year), would have brought him more attention and a way to differentiate himself from his competition.