The Case for Alan Trammell

Trammell 1Before Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Miguel Tejada, Nomar Garciaparra, and Barry Larkin, there were two shortstops who were dominating offensive forces: Cal Ripken of the Baltimore Orioles and Alan Trammell of the Detroit Tigers.

Cal Ripken won the 1982 AL Rookie of the Year, he broke Lou Gehrig‘s consecutive games played streak, earned two MVP awards (1983, 1991), played in 19 All-Star games (consecutively), and was voted into the Hall of Fame in 2007 (98.5 percent vote…who were the eight voters that didn’t elect him?) in his first year of eligibility. Totally worthy…

However, after Barry Larkin was elected in 2012, his third year of eligibility, Trammell is the best shortstop eligible who is not in the Hall of Fame.

Alan Trammell was a six-time All-Star, a four-time Gold Glove winner, and a three-time Silver Slugger winner. He won a World Series and the World Series MVP in 1984, hitting .450 with two home runs and six RBI in the five game series against the San Diego Padres. In Trammell’s 20-year career, he only played in one more playoff series, losing to the Minnesota Twins in five games in 1987.

According to Baseball Reference and the JAWS system, which was created by Jay Jaffe and ranks players their career WAR averaged with their 7-year peak WAR, Alan Trammell is the 11th best shortstop in the history of baseball.

The average Hall of Fame shortstop, of which there are 21, has a career WAR of 63.1, a WAR7 of 41.0, and a JAWS of 52.1.

Trammell had a career WAR of 67.1, a WAR7 of 43.3, and a JAWS of 55.2.

The average shortstop WAR is also increased dramatically by the inclusion of Honus Wagner (126.2 WAR), which makes Trammell’s 67.1 WAR look more average than it really is, thanks to George Wright (24.2) and Phil Rizzuto (38.1) being a part of Cooperstown.

As statistical nerds rejoice at that last bit of information, keep in mind that Trammell had a higher career WAR than Ernie Banks (62.5), Pee Wee Reese (63.1), Luis Aparicio (51.7), Joe Cronin (61.9), Lou Boudreau (59.1), and Bobby Wallace (66.0), while posting the same WAR as Larkin (67.1). All of these players are in the Hall of Fame.

Trammell3Trammell didn’t have 3,000 hits. He didn’t hit 400 home runs. He never had a 30-30 season like the MVP-like Ripken, Rodriguez, and Larkin, but he was great for a long time.

Voters have overlooked Alan Trammell for the last 11 years of Hall of Fame balloting. While Omar Vizquel and his 40.5 WAR are already getting attention for several years down the road and the Steroid Era influx hits the ballots, it is time for voters to open their eyes and look at the résumé of one of the greatest shortstops to have ever played the game…who is still not in the Hall of Fame, receiving a 36.8 percent of the vote in 2012, his highest yet.

Trammell is a Hall of Famer because of the statistics that he put up, the way that he recreated the offensive expectations of a single position, and for the longevity of his greatness (despite several years devastated by injury).

Even while playing more than 130 games over his final nine seasons just once, Trammell had more hits than 14 of 21 Hall of Fame shortstops, and he had more RBI than 12 of 21 Hall of Fame shortstops.

Trammell2Trammell retired in 1996, one year after his double-play partner Lou Whitaker, at the age of 38. Whitaker won’t be a Hall of Famer, though he probably should have been considered, after getting just 2.9 percent of the vote in 2001, but Trammell deserves the vote.

Trammell would have only increased his credentials had he not missed 616 games over his last 10 seasons. His credentials, as they stand, are Cooperstown-worthy. With so many big names on the ballot, Trammell could, very well, be overlooked again. It would be a shame if he never makes it.


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