Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Lou Whitaker on the Hall of Fame: “I didn’t even get daylight”

Whitaker, who played from 1977 to 1995 with the Detroit Tigers, ranks among the best second basemen in baseball history by various sabermetrics — sixth by Wins Above Replacement, seventh by Wins Above Average, and 12th by JAWS according to Baseball-Reference.com. But Whitaker drew just 2.9 percent of the vote for Cooperstown in 2001, his only year on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s ballot, disqualifying him from future consideration by the writers.

...

So what’s taken Trammell and Whitaker so long? Why haven’t the 1984 Detroit Tigers, who won 104 games and the World Series, had a single Hall of Famer?

“We were just consistent,” Whitaker said. “We were a team with consistent players. We played, we won.”

The Hall of Fame, though, isn’t always great about rewarding consistent players who are good in a number of areas but seemingly not elite at any. Just ask Trammell, Dwight Evans or Bobby Grich.

Dennis Eclairskey, closer Posted: February 16, 2017 at 08:39 AM | 26 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: alan trammell, detroit tigers, hall of fame, jack morris, lou whitaker, veterans committee

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. RMc and the Respective Punishments Posted: February 16, 2017 at 06:20 PM (#5403370)
Trammell was better than Ozzie.
Whitaker was better than Sandberg.
That is all.
   2. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: February 16, 2017 at 06:51 PM (#5403385)
Yes, Trammell was better than Ozzie Guillen, and Whitaker was miles ahead of Jared Sandberg.

Why haven’t the 1984 Detroit Tigers, who won 104 games and the World Series, had a single Hall of Famer?


Sparky's a HOFer.
   3. DanG Posted: February 16, 2017 at 07:00 PM (#5403389)
Kirk Gibson is in the College Football Hall of Fame.
   4. Booey Posted: February 16, 2017 at 07:11 PM (#5403398)
Why haven’t the 1984 Detroit Tigers, who won 104 games and the World Series, had a single Hall of Famer?


Don't worry, The Jack will be getting in soon enough.
   5. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: February 16, 2017 at 07:26 PM (#5403409)
Sparky Anderson is in the Hall of Fame.

Edit: ah nuts
   6. BDC Posted: February 16, 2017 at 08:30 PM (#5403436)
“We were just consistent,” Whitaker said. “We were a team with consistent players. We played, we won.”

Whitaker may just be talking about 1984, but he himself had a far more consistent career than his great teammates. Trammell mixed great years with ones where he was severely slowed down by injuries, and Darrell Evans was great in his mid 20s and late 30s, but sort of disappeared for a while in between. Morris also mixed in some bad years, but that's more standard for a long-time starting pitcher. Morris just never got far above a certain peak; he was HOVG quality at best (though for a long time).
   7. Chokeland Bill Posted: February 16, 2017 at 08:40 PM (#5403442)

Trammell was better than Ozzie.


This is basically a coin flip. Trammell a little better when on the field, Ozzie better at staying on the field. Trammell played in more seasons but in almost 300 fewer games.

Whitaker was better than Sandberg


Career player vs peak player. Sandberg has the best 4 seasons between the two of them and 6 of the top 8. Whitaker's entire WAR advantage basically comes from ages Sandberg didn't play at (and by sitting against LHP his final few years). Whitaker got hurt more by work stoppages. I think Sandberg is clearly better, but I lean pretty heavily towards peak. Sandberg has the well-deserved MVP, and later was the second best player in the NL for a few years (behind Bonds). Whitaker was "just" very good forever.
   8. Cooper Nielson Posted: February 17, 2017 at 03:06 AM (#5403518)
“We were just consistent,” Whitaker said. “We were a team with consistent players. We played, we won.”

They weren't exactly a dynasty, but from 1983 to 1988, they were a consistently competitive team. Over those six years they won 87 or more games five times (in 1985 they only won 84 -- maybe a World Series hangover), with two division titles and two second-place finishes. In 1983 they spent three days in first place in mid-August, in 1988 they were in first place as late as Sept. 3.

Though they famously don't have any Hall-of-Fame players from that stretch, they had a lot of HOVG (or at least HOG) types. Most people around here would agree that Trammell and Whitaker were HOF caliber, and while they wouldn't vote for Morris, they at least understand his argument. But there was also:

Darrell Evans - 58.5 career WAR, 414 HR, 119 career OPS+
Frank Tanana - 57.5 career WAR, two top-4 Cy Young finishes, 240 wins, 106 career ERA+
Chet Lemon - 55.5 career WAR, 121 career OPS+
Fred Lynn - 50.0 career WAR, MVP, ROY, 8 All-Star Games, 129 career OPS+
Lance Parrish - 39.3 career WAR, 8 All-Star Games, 324 HR, 3 Gold Gloves, 6 Silver Sluggers
Kirk Gibson - 38.3 career WAR, MVP award, 123 career OPS+
Bill Madlock - 38.0 career WAR, 4 batting titles, 123 career OPS+
Doyle Alexander - 34.9 career WAR, 103 career ERA+, one phenomenal stretch run
Dwayne Murphy - 33.2 career WAR (in only 12 seasons), 6 Gold Gloves

Obviously some of those guys were just "passing through" and didn't contribute much to the Tigers -- Lynn, Madlock, and Murphy were definitely post-prime and most Tiger fans have forgotten about them. But these were all pretty good players, with long-ish careers.

The HOF wouldn't have to get that much bigger to let in 4 or 5 of these guys. I know Evans and Lemon have their backers, Tanana's not too far down the "If x, then y" list for starting pitchers, and if/when Morris or John/Kaat gets into the HOF, people might take another look at him. Parrish was one of the best catchers of his era, and his career numbers are good for the position. Lynn compares rather favorably to Jim Rice, for what that's worth.
   9. MuttsIdolCochrane Posted: February 17, 2017 at 04:57 AM (#5403520)
No more on freakin Morris please. STATS COUNT and just don't and have never added up!
   10. AROM Posted: February 17, 2017 at 08:32 AM (#5403553)
Lynn, Madlock, and Murphy were definitely post-prime and most Tiger fans have forgotten about them.


Blue Jay fans probably remember Madlock as a Tiger more than Tiger fans do. But not in a good way.
   11. Dennis Eclairskey, closer Posted: February 17, 2017 at 08:43 AM (#5403561)
Trammell was better than Ozzie.
Whitaker was better than Sandberg.
That is all.


Jack was better than Ozzie & Sandberg...on the mound

Don't worry, The Jack will be getting in soon enough.

The Era Committee is unpredictable but I think Morris will make it in on the next election, I just hope if that happens then Trammell makes it in too. I'd tolerate Morris being elected if Trammell & Whitaker get in as well
   12. Dennis Eclairskey, closer Posted: February 17, 2017 at 08:52 AM (#5403573)
Sandberg has the best 4 seasons between the two of them and 6 of the top 8

Strictly from a traditional statistical standpoint, Sandberg's 1984 MVP season, great 1985, 30-HR 1989, 40-HR 1990, and very good 1991-92 far outweigh Whitaker's best seasons as really only his 200-hit 1983 is comparable to Ryno's best. However, Sandberg also had two full sub 100 OPS+ at the beginning of his career and two at the end while Whitaker only had one sub 100 full season in his career. I think they are both HOF worthy, they just accumulated value in different ways.

   13. ReggieThomasLives Posted: February 17, 2017 at 10:08 AM (#5403623)
By WAA both Trammel and Whitaker are easy HOFers. In fact they are both significantly better than Sandberg.
   14. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: February 17, 2017 at 10:30 AM (#5403650)
Frank Tanana - 57.5 career WAR, two top-4 Cy Young finishes, 240 wins, 106 career ERA+


I was wondering what this article had to do with Frank Tanana. Now I know. Thanks!
   15. DanG Posted: February 17, 2017 at 10:31 AM (#5403652)
2B in past 80 years, since Doerr's rookie year

Rk          Player  WARWAAOPSRfield    PA From
1       Joe Morgan 100.3 63.2  132  
-47.9 11329 1963 H
2        Rod Carew  81.1 46.0  131   13.5 10550 1967 H
3     Lou Whitaker  74.9 42.5  117   76.8  9967 1977
4      Bobby Grich  70.9 43.4  125   81.8  8220 1970
5    Ryne Sandberg  67.5 38.1  114   59.9  9282 1981 H
6   Roberto Alomar  66.8 32.3  116  
-37.5 10400 1988 H
7  Willie Randolph  65.5 35.7  104  113.7  9461 1975
8     Craig Biggio  65.1 28.7  112 
-100.4 12504 1988 H
9      Chase Utley  64.4 42.4  119  141.0  7323 2003
10   Robinson Cano  62.4 34.8  127   25.0  7845 2005
11 Jackie Robinson  61.5 39.3  132   81.1  5804 1947 H
12      Joe Gordon  57.1 37.2  120  150.0  6535 1938 H
13       Jeff Kent  55.2 26.3  123  
-41.5  9537 1992
14     Ian Kinsler  52.9 30.0  111  102.0  6871 2006
15     Bobby Doerr  51.2 27.0  115   43.0  8028 1937 H
16   Tony Phillips  50.8 21.5  109   40.5  9110 1982
17  Dustin Pedroia  50.7 29.9  115  101.0  6280 2006
18      Nellie Fox  49.0 18.3   93  120.0 10351 1947 H 
   16. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: February 17, 2017 at 11:27 AM (#5403715)
Whitaker was miles ahead of Jared Sandberg.

Well, not really.

Lou compiled higher WAR/WAA (74.9/42.5 to 67.5/38.1) but had more playing time (2390g/9967pa to 2164g/9282pa).

Ryne had the obvious accomplishments, the HR, the 9 Gold Gloves, while Lou compiled a little more dWAR but won only 3 GG.

Ryne destroys him in:

Black Ink: 14 to 1
Grey Ink: 134 to 31
HOF Monitor: 158 to 92
HOF Standards: Tied at 43
JAWS: Ryno 9th, Lou 12th

Ryno had the big shiny stuff and the narrative. Lou had the walks and OBP and consistency.

If Sandberg never retires in 1994, their total WAR/WAA would likely be even closer.
   17. Booey Posted: February 17, 2017 at 11:47 AM (#5403744)
#16 -

Whitaker was miles ahead of Jared Sandberg.

Well, not really.


Yes, really. ;-)
   18. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: February 17, 2017 at 11:50 AM (#5403747)
Whitaker was miles ahead of Jared Sandberg.

Well, not really.

etc.


Your snark detector needs a checkup.
   19. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: February 17, 2017 at 11:53 AM (#5403755)
Frank Tanana - 57.5 career WAR, two top-4 Cy Young finishes, 240 wins, 106 career ERA+


Tanana's 3 best years blow Morris' 3 best away (23.2 WAR versus 16.0), but you could never convince a traditionalist of that, they see Morris like this:
21-8, 3.27
21-6, 4.04 (RS of 5 or more 16 times, he even once picked up a "w" with a game score of 22, 3 more "w"s with game scores in the 30s, best game score in a loss was 57)
20-13, 3.34

they see Tanana like this:
19-10, 2.43 (RS of 5 or more 10 times-worst game score in a win was 57, best game score in a loss was 83- bets gams score in a No Dec. was 104)
18-12, 3.65
16.9, 2.64

Jack Morris 1992 is like Morris career in a nutshell, pitching for a good team, very high run support (for the era)- good bullpen support- if he left with lead he got a "W"- even if he left witha 1 run lead with 3-4 inning to go, leave on the hook for the "L" the Jays would score and he'd walk away with a No D.
   20. Russ Posted: February 17, 2017 at 12:01 PM (#5403773)
They weren't exactly a dynasty, but from 1983 to 1988, they were a consistently competitive team. Over those six years they won 87 or more games five times (in 1985 they only won 84 -- maybe a World Series hangover), with two division titles and two second-place finishes. In 1983 they spent three days in first place in mid-August, in 1988 they were in first place as late as Sept. 3.


This actually understates their performance. During the stretch from 1983 to 1988, there were only three teams who had .500 records or better in every one of those six years: Detroit, Toronto and the Yankees, all of whom were in the same division! During one of the most competitive eras in baseball, the Whitaker-Trammell Tigers were in the most competitive division. Their W-L record over that period greatly understates their talent and level of achievement.

Those Toronto teams were some of my favourite teams of all time.
   21. DavidFoss Posted: February 17, 2017 at 12:09 PM (#5403780)
Half of Tanana's value and all of his good black ink came by age 23. He was awesome. He turned Nolan Ryan into the #2 starter on the Angels staff for a few years. But only Blyleven, Dierker, Gooden & McCormick pitched more innings by that age and he wore out his arm, lost his fastball, and spent the next fifteen years as the stereotypical junkball lefty.

As far as the Tigers are concerned, they picked him up for almost nothing when the Rangers DFA-ed him in mid-season. He was able to stay healthy for several years and was occasionally a bit better than average (and occasionally below), but was never really that good.
   22. DavidFoss Posted: February 17, 2017 at 12:25 PM (#5403791)
But only Blyleven, Dierker, Gooden & McCormick pitched more innings by that age

.. since WWII
   23. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: February 17, 2017 at 01:03 PM (#5403843)
He turned Nolan Ryan into the #2 starter on the Angels staff for a few years


Tanana and Ryan and two days of crying...

I'm a Met fan, but one day, mid/late 80s I was watching a Yankee game... and Tanana was pitching, my reaction was, "holy crap, I thought he retired 10 years ago..."

Tanana is a guy who if you rearranged his years, put him on better teams, could have been a serious HOF candidate
   24. dlf Posted: February 17, 2017 at 01:28 PM (#5403864)
I was a tween when Tanana was at his flame throwing best for the Angels and he never really entered my consciousness at the time. At that age, I spent much more time thinking about position players, whose exploits had a more gut level appeal and could have told you a lot about, for example, Richie Zisk or Larry Hisle or Jason Thompson or Ken Singleton; pitching, at least for me, took more of intellectual curiosity to appreciate. But by the time I was in college, and Tanana was the slop throwing cog for Sparky's Tigers, he became a favorite. Since around that age I've always really admired the pitchers who get by with guile and control, throwing 'fastballs' that high school hurlers top on the radar gun. A Tanana, John, Moyer, Colon, Livan Hernandez, Glavine, etc. does more for my aesthetic taste than would a Ryan, Clemens, Beckett, Fernandez, Chapman, etc. The game I enjoyed the most from Pedro was when he relieved against the Indians in, I think, '99, and clearly had nothing left in the tank, but managed six no-hit innings.
   25. Cooper Nielson Posted: February 17, 2017 at 01:47 PM (#5403875)
Half of Tanana's value and all of his good black ink came by age 23. He was awesome. He turned Nolan Ryan into the #2 starter on the Angels staff for a few years. But only Blyleven, Dierker, Gooden & McCormick pitched more innings by that age and he wore out his arm, lost his fastball, and spent the next fifteen years as the stereotypical junkball lefty.

As far as the Tigers are concerned, they picked him up for almost nothing when the Rangers DFA-ed him in mid-season. He was able to stay healthy for several years and was occasionally a bit better than average (and occasionally below), but was never really that good.


I forgot that he pitched so long for the Tigers -- 8 years (OK, 7.5), and he actually pitched more games for them than for any other team (but not quite as many innings as he had with the Angels). When he came to the Tigers, I already thought of him as an "old" pitcher because he was so far past his glory days and threw about 70 mph, but it turns out he was still a bit shy of his 32nd birthday at the time of the trade.

I know he wasn't GREAT with the Tigers, but he made start after start, consistently racking up double-digit win totals, and he really only had one BAD year out of eight (five seasons with ERA+ over 100, two more over 90). And he was a Michigan native, and loved Jesus. I liked him.

There are a lot of pitchers better than him who are still waiting to get into the Hall of Fame (20 by bWAR, but a few of them are active, not yet eligible, or still being considered), but if a bandwagon ever starts for Tanana, I'd be happy to jump on. He'd be far from the worst pitcher in the HOF, maybe wouldn't even be in the bottom quartile.
   26. Ron J Posted: February 17, 2017 at 02:29 PM (#5403893)
#24 I recall reading about a start where a young Randy Johnson faced Tanana. Tanana was supposedly timed as slow as 49. I've always wondered what Johnson felt about that. I mean a guy with literally rec league stuff got the win against him.

EDIT: Well rec league in terms of velocity. Command and movement obviously way better than any rec leaguer could deal with.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

News

All News | Prime News

Old-School Newsstand


BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Adam S
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogOTP 26 June 2017: Confederations Cup shows how sports media in Russia differs from politics
(389 - 6:34pm, Jun 27)
Last: PepTech

NewsblogAaron Judge or Cody Bellinger?
(13 - 6:30pm, Jun 27)
Last: Jesus Frankenstein

NewsblogDodgers rookie Cody Bellinger has never heard of 'Seinfeld,' teammates hilariously respond
(133 - 6:29pm, Jun 27)
Last: Morty Causa

NewsblogSprint Speed shows fastest at each position | MLB.com
(26 - 6:18pm, Jun 27)
Last: cardsfanboy

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 6-27-2017
(10 - 6:01pm, Jun 27)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogIs There Still a Place for Ladies Night in Baseball?
(14 - 5:58pm, Jun 27)
Last: 6 - 4 - 3

NewsblogEverybody wins by pushing the draft back
(25 - 5:45pm, Jun 27)
Last: 6 - 4 - 3

NewsblogOT - March 2017 NBA thread
(7375 - 5:39pm, Jun 27)
Last: aberg

NewsblogFox Sports eliminates digital writing staff in favor of promoting their debate shows
(34 - 5:30pm, Jun 27)
Last: 6 - 4 - 3

NewsblogLive from New York, it's OMNICHATTER! for June 27, 2017
(2 - 4:58pm, Jun 27)
Last: Bote Man

NewsblogVideo: Idiot Mets fan catches foul ball at Dodger Stadium, nearly drops baby, wife ready to kill him
(23 - 4:44pm, Jun 27)
Last: The Yankee Clapper

Gonfalon CubsMeh
(51 - 4:43pm, Jun 27)
Last: Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant

NewsblogOT: Summer Soccer Thread 2017
(94 - 3:53pm, Jun 27)
Last: He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB)

NewsblogIndians manager Terry Francona leaves game after not feeling well
(4 - 3:46pm, Jun 27)
Last: Jose is El Absurd Bronson Y Pollo

NewsblogSABR 47 - NYC
(20 - 3:06pm, Jun 27)
Last: LA Podcasting Hombre of Anaheim

Page rendered in 0.2428 seconds
47 querie(s) executed