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Monday, December 30, 2013

Mensching: Advanced and traditional stats reveal injustice of Whitaker’s, Trammell’s Hall snub

Not to mensching Jack Morris! (ducks and ducks again)

Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell’s exclusion from the baseball Hall of Fame is a mistake long past due to be corrected.

Any declaration like that is going to be a bit of personal opinion, of course, but it doesn’t take long to make a pretty good argument to back the stance. Fortunately in this day and age, a lot of people have already paved the way.

Of course, Whitaker received just 2.9 percent of the vote from the baseball writers in his first year of eligibility, putting a swift end to his bid before the debate could percolate more in his favor. His only hope now is a gift from the veteran’s committee, which could honor him as early as 2015.

Then we have Trammell. The likelihood of his being elected to the Hall by the BBWAA remains low, though his support has steadily increased over the years. One-third of voters marked his name on their ballots last year, but with only a few years of eligibility remaining Trammell will almost certainly fall short of the three-quarter mark necessary.

Those who disdain sabermetrics may be surprised to hear this, but those who regularly use sabermetrics continue to make the best argument for the pair’s inclusion. In fact, it’s hard to throw a stone on the Internet without hitting an argument in their favor.

...Maybe it’s wishful thinking hoping the BBWAA is actually doing us all a favor by relegating Whitaker and Trammell to the sidelines for now. As early as 2016, the veteran’s committee will have an opportunity to put baseball’s longest-running double-play duo in the Hall of Fame together.

Repoz Posted: December 30, 2013 at 11:25 AM | 11 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hof, sabermetrics

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   1. Moeball Posted: December 30, 2013 at 02:34 PM (#4626546)
I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but the exclusion of these two really makes me shake my head. Just as an example, I did a test of shortstops where I looked at 10-year peaks. I figured the HOF wants players who have played at least 10 years, so the emphasis is on long-term excellence; one or two-year wonders need not apply. So looking at shortstops since 1900 (sorry, George Davis and Bill Dahlen), I looked up the best stretches for each player that encompassed around 1600 games played, essentially the equivalent of a decade's worth of 160-game seasons. I looked at WAA rather than WAR because I thought that would better emphasize peak performance relative to league. I was surprised at how well Trammell held up to this scrutiny; his peak was even better than I thought (all figures based on B-Ref numbers):

#1 Wagner - no surprise here - his 1901-1909 seasons plus 1911-1912 gives 1666 games played, a little over 10 seasons' worth of 162-game seasons. His average WAA per season was 7.4. That's...unreal. Even if you timelined it for the better level of competition today's game provides, I don't see how that number would go down below 6. He's just far and away the best at the position.

#2 Ripken - I took 1982-1986, 1988-1991 and threw in the shortened 1994 season. Comes to a total of 1565 games with an average of 5.1 WAA per 162 games played.

#3 Arky Vaughan - I used 1932-1941 and threw in the 1943 and 1947 seasons on top of that. Yields 1624 games played with an average of 4.7 WAA per 162 games played.

#4 Barry Larkin - since he was injured a lot I had to use 13 total seasons to get the total number of games up to 1582 (used 1986 and 1988-1999). Average of 4.5 WAA per 162.

#5 Lou Boudreau - Basically used just about his whole career (1940-1951). 1588 games played with an average WAA of 4.3 per 162. Of course, he was one of the few stars of the 1940s who didn't miss any time due to WWII so you can take these numbers with a grain of salt given the level of competition some years during the war.

#6 Alan Trammell - missed time due to strike seasons and injuries so I used 1980-1984 and 1986-1993. Comes to 1628 games played at an average of 4.3 WAA per 162-game season. His average comes a tick under Boudreau's if you go out a few decimal places; even so, maybe I should actually list him above Boudreau given the difference in level of competition.

At any rate, I was surprised to see that if you look at 10-year peaks - a pretty high standard to meet, I think - Trammell is in the top half dozen shortstops of the last century, maybe even arguably in the top 5 depending on how you timeline Boudreau.

I was surprised that some other great shortstops dropped considerably when looked at in this light - Ozzie, Joe Cronin, Luke Appling, Pee Wee Reese, Derek Jeter, etc. couldn't put together anything close to a 1600 game stretch in their careers where they were at least 40 WAA. They were all in the 3s (I think Ozzie was at 3.8 WAA on average over his peak seasons).

I thought it interesting when looking at all these players that they all showed positive run-levels of performance compared to league average both on offense and defense for the years in question. All were truly excellent all-around players. But I find it difficult to see how a voter can look at this level of performance and conclude that Trammell wasn't an elite player.

I know, I know - the BBWAA isn't looking at this level of performance. They're looking at Trammell's career BA or something like that.

Next I guess I'll take a look to see how Sweet Lou comes out compared to the other second basemen. I'm guessing he won't do quite as well since his argument is more based on career than peak; but you never know until you actually look at the numbers.
   2. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 30, 2013 at 02:55 PM (#4626570)
We talk about "compilers" being a mark against you to get into the Hall, but if Alan Trammell is just a bit healthier after age 32 and is a "compiler" for six more seasons, he probably gets about 140 hits each year and finishes with about 2700 hits, which would make him pretty much a slam-dunk for the HOF.

Its so frustrating to see all this energy supporting Jack Morris that could be used to elevate Alan Trammell. On those 1980s Tigers teams, Alan was the star, from what I remember (when it wasn't Kirk Gibson).
   3. Rally Posted: December 30, 2013 at 03:04 PM (#4626575)
Lance Parrish was a big star, for a time he might have been the biggest. Didn't do much after he left Detroit though, and was a bit overrated anyway (lots of RBI, low OBP).
   4. Walt Davis Posted: December 30, 2013 at 09:52 PM (#4626895)
#1: Part of that is your criteria of 1600 games (all at SS?). You "miss" Banks -- 35 WAA in about 1200 games at SS. You "miss" ARod -- 44 WAA in about 1300 games plus 17 WAR in his first two seasons at 3B. And I see no reason to exclude Trammell's 85 necessarily -- he played a full season and it wasn't a strike year. Not that it's a big deal. (Note, if you're comparing comparable playing time, there's only a trivial difference between WAR and WAA ... WAA is primarily useful for comparing guys with unequal playing time.)

I agree with docking guys like Banks on career lists due to time not spent at SS but Banks is probably the #3 or #4 peak SS (Wagner, ARod and maybe Vaughan). Trammell obviously has enough peak and career value to qualify
   5. Moeball Posted: December 30, 2013 at 11:03 PM (#4626923)
Walt - yeah, I was doing a sort in B-ref on the player index and I guess it dropped A-Rod and Mr. Cub, presumably because of not enough games at shortstop - I think it also dropped Yount as well.

At any rate - I would agree A-Rod should be on that list - he should have been a SS a few more seasons if not for the insanity of Joe Torre wanting to please Mr. Captain...Ernie, well, maybe he should have been a SS for more seasons as well? I often wonder if the Cubs jumped the gun on moving him to first. I don't see anything in the fielding numbers indicating he could no longer handle SS and he would have been far more valuable to the team staying there rather than shifting to first...
   6. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: December 30, 2013 at 11:51 PM (#4626934)
Maybe it’s wishful thinking hoping the BBWAA is actually doing us all a favor by relegating Whitaker and Trammell to the sidelines for now. As early as 2016, the veteran’s committee will have an opportunity to put baseball’s longest-running double-play duo in the Hall of Fame together.

I don't believe this is correct. For consideration by the Expansion ERA committee, a player must be retired for 21 or more seasons. Tram will have been retired for 20 seasons (97-16) at the time of the next election.
   7. vivaelpujols Posted: December 31, 2013 at 04:13 AM (#4626977)
This guy's a real Mensch
   8. BDC Posted: December 31, 2013 at 09:33 AM (#4627038)
I often wonder if the Cubs jumped the gun on moving him to first

Banks had knee problems that the Cubs didn't want to exacerbate. Strategically, the move worked out fine, as Banks was a decent player, if not at a HOF level anymore, through the mid-60s. They just didn't get enough good players to surround him until he was too old to contribute any more himself.
   9. Cyril Morong Posted: December 31, 2013 at 06:31 PM (#4627426)
Whitaker right now is 48th in career WAR for position players and had 3 top 10 finishes, 2 in the top 5. None of these three were consecutive, but that seems like enough peak value given his being in the top 50.

Trammell is tied for 63rd in career WAR for position players and had 6 top 10 finishes, 4 in the top 5.

Both of them look like Hall of Famers to me
   10. Cyril Morong Posted: December 31, 2013 at 06:35 PM (#4627429)
Top 10 in career WAR among guys who played 50%+ games at 2B

Rogers Hornsby 126.9
Eddie Collins 123.9
Nap Lajoie 107.2
Joe Morgan 100.3
Charlie Gehringer 80.8
Lou Whitaker 74.8
Bobby Grich 71
Frankie Frisch 70.1
Ryne Sandberg 67.7
Roberto Alomar 66.7
   11. Cyril Morong Posted: December 31, 2013 at 06:36 PM (#4627431)
Now the same thing for SS

Honus Wagner 130.4
Cal Ripken 95.5
George Davis 84.9
Robin Yount 77
Ozzie Smith 76.5
Bill Dahlen 75.3
Luke Appling 74.4
Arky Vaughan 73
Derek Jeter 71.5
Alan Trammell 70.3
Barry Larkin 70.3

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