Alan Trammell Got Robbed, Deserves To Be In Hall Of Fame
Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza both sported Hall of Fame jerseys as they conducted the annual press conference welcoming players recently voted into Cooperstown. It was an awesome time—after all, arguably the greatest center fielder of all time as well as the best-hitting catcher this game has ever seen were being honored for this incredible accomplishment—but there was still a cloud of disappointment hanging over the festivities.
And that disappointment has to do with Alan Trammell. Not only did the former Detroit Tigers shortstop fail to get the 75 percent that is needed for induction, but 2016 also marks the 15th and final season that the voters can put his name on the ballot.
“I know where I stand,” Trammell, now a special assistant for the Detroit Tigers, told Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. “I also know I’ve gotten quite a bit of support. It’s flattering and honoring just to be talked about it, and I know that as a player, I could hold my own.”
He could certainly hold his own, that’s for sure.
First, Trammell was a terrific all-around player. He was as smooth as they come defensively at shortstop, he hit for average, he hit for power and he ran the bases extremely well.
As a way to not only illustrate just how good Trammell was, but also show how he was unfairly kept out of the Hall, I will use wins-above-replacement. I am fully aware that plenty of fans do not like the infamous WAR—even I will admit that it does have its flaws—but it is a way to break down a player’s value into one number.
Anyway, Trammell accumulated the eight-highest career WAR among all-time MLB shortstops. That trails legends like Cal Ripken and Derek Jeter, but it is ahead of guys like Barry Larkin. In total, of the top 16 shortstops in MLB history according to WAR, 15 of them are in the Hall of Fame.
The only one that isn’t?
You guessed it, it’s Alan Trammell.
The main problem with the voting process is that the voters do not grasp the different eras that these players played in. For example, shortstops used to not hit for much power back in Trammell’s day. He, along with Cal Ripken Jr., were two of the few that hit for power in the 1980s.
Unfortunately, the voters look at those two as somewhat similar players and think that because Trammell’s numbers are not near as good as Ripken’s, he didn’t have a Hall of Fame caliber career. That is nonsensical to compare anyone to Ripken because he is arguably the best shortstop of all time.
“The game of baseball was somewhat different,” Trammell said, per Fenech. “We weren’t throwing big numbers up. That’s not how the game was presented to us, and I’m not trying to make any excuses, that’s just how the game was and I have no problem with that. I really appreciate the fact that I played in that era, and I know whenever it passed, I was taught to play baseball the right way, and I feel very good about that.”
Let’s now look at another sabermetric, JAWS, that was created by sabermetrician Jay Jaffe as a way to gauge a player’s Hall of Fame legitimacy. What JAWS does is adds a player’s WAR from their seven best seasons and puts it into one number, and then fans and voters can compare that number to players that are already enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Common sense would say that if a player has a JAWS score that is better than the average Hall of Famer at his position, he deserves to be in the Hall.
According to Baseball-Reference, the average JAW score of the 21 shortstops in the Hall of Fame is 54.7 Trammell’s 57.5 is just a hair above average, which ranks him ahead of both Derek Jeter, who will likely be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and Barry Larkin, who was voted into Cooperstown in 2012.
In other words, the advanced stats indicate that Trammell is a Hall of Famer. But there are other things that voters take into account, things like postseason stats, All-Star Games, Gold Gloves and Most Valuable Players awards, to name a few.
Here’s where Trammell might get docked a few points, but he really shouldn’t. After all, he played in six All-Star Games, won four Gold Gloves and three Silver Slugger awards and was blatantly robbed of the MVP award in 1987. Trammell finished second in the voting to George Bell despite hitting .343 with 28 home runs, 105 RBI, 21 stolen bases and a .953 OPS. The tremendously respected baseball and historian Bill James said on MLB Network on Thursday that the 1987 MVP voting was the worst in MLB history, and it’s not difficult to see why that might be the case.
And Trammell’s postseason can be seen as either good or not-so-good, depending on if you like quality or quantity. He only played in one World Series in his 20-year career, but when the Tigers did get there in 1984, Trammell made the most of it.
He hit .364 in the ALCS, but then was even hotter in the World Series, hitting a whopping .450 with two home runs and a 1.300 OPS en route to being named the WS Most Valuable Player.
However, none of it was good enough for Trammell, as he managed barely half of the 75 percent that is necessary for election. But we must keep in mind that while he might not have had a Hall of Fame caliber career, it was an outstanding one nonetheless.
There is still a sliver of hope—Trammell’s resume will now go to the Expansion Era Committee for veterans—but the chances of them voting him in are slim.
“If that’s where it’s at,” a content Trammell said. “I can live with it.
“I know my name has been mentioned, and I’m perfectly fine with that.”
Original article posted on HC3 Cold Hard Sports.