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POLL: Alan Trammell and the Hall of Fame

Posted by Andy on November 2, 2010

Alan Trammell played all 20 of his MLB seasons for the Tigers, amassing more than 2,100 games at shortstop.

On the Hall of Fame ballot since 2002, Trammell reached a high of 22.4% in the voting last year. He has another 6 years of eligibility assuming that his voting total doesn't fall below 5%.

Trammell was a 6-time All-Star, 4-time Gold Glove winner, 3-time Silver Slugger winner, and was MVP of the 1984 World Series.

Trammell never led the league in a single major statistical category (zero black ink) but probably deserved the 1987 AL MVP. He finished second to George Bell, who had 47 HR and 134 RBI but an oWAR of just 5.0 as compared to Trammell's league-leading total of 8.4. Trammel's .343 batting average that season was, remarkably, good for just 3rd in the AL behind Wade Boggs' .363 and Paul Molitor's .353.

Let's discuss Trammell's career and vote in the poll below.

For Alan Trammell in the Hall of Fame:

Against Alan Trammell in the Hall of Fame:

  • Trammell was not a very consistent player from an offensive standpoint. He never posted more than 3 consecutive seasons with an OPS+ of at least 100. As a shortstop playing in a low-offense era, this is not terrible, but it might mean he's not HOF material. After a great 1983 and 1984, Trammell posted an 89 OPS+ in 1985. Then he was great again in 1986, 1987, and 1988, but posted an 85 OPS+ in 1989. Back up in 1990, back down in 1991. Back up in 1992 and 1993, then down for good after that. Compare that to Lou Whitaker, who posted 15 straight seasons with an OPS+ between 103 and 141.
  • Trammell was good at a lot of things--a good hitter and a a good fielder--but not great at anything. I already mentioned his black ink of zero and his gray ink (top 10 finishes in major statistical categories) is just 48, quite low.
  • He spent most of his career as the 3rd-best shortstop in the AL. At various times, he was ranked behind (by seasonal WAR) Cal Ripken, Robin Yount, and Tony Fernandez.  Trammell was the top AL shortstop by WAR only in 1987 and 1988. Hey--being the 3rd-best shortstop for a long period of time isn't bad, but again, it might not be HOF worthy.
  • Trammell's counting stats, which are not overly impressive in the first place, benefit from him coming to the majors at a very young age. Had he played his first full season at 22 or 23 like many players, he would have had a fairly short career given that he last played 120 games at Age 32.
  • This should have absolutely nothing to do with his HOF candidacy, but his bad turn as Tigers manager isn't going to help. In 2004 and 2005 thankfully they were just an ordinary bad team, but those 2003 Tigers and their 119 losses are a stain on Trammell's resume that probably hurt his reputation with at least a few voters.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 at 1:40 pm and is filed under Hall of Fame, Polls. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

106 Responses to “POLL: Alan Trammell and the Hall of Fame”

  1. Both Trammell and Whitaker belong in the HOF. It'll never happen, though. :-(

  2. Sorry, we seem to be having a formatting error with the bullets...hopefully you can still read my post OK.

    Also, who recognizes where the photo was taken? I recognized Camden Yards immediately...

  3. Both Whitaker and Trammell sailed into the Hall of Merit easily.

  4. Trammell's career numbers are quite similar to position peer Barry Larkins (it is my opinion that players should be judged against the guys that played the same position and close to the same era--no sensible person would compare Babe Ruth to Luis Aparicio) and Barry received plenty of support last year--his first on the ballot. Larkin did have a higher BA and was more consistent than Alan, but I think they should be on rather equal ground.

    When you do research on Trammell what you'll find is a two-headed monster: Trammell and Whitaker. The two turned double plays together for years and for whatever reason are viewed more as a tandem than two separate ballplayers. I believe that has hindered both Trammell and Whitaker.

    Should Larkin make the HOF, look for Trammell to gain more support, much like Jim Bottomley when his clearly inferior peer George Kelly was inducted into the HOF before him. But, like I mentioned before, Trammell isn't superior to Larkin--Barry's induction will just heighten the case for Trammell.

  5. You recognize the back wall of Camden Yards's dugout?! I'm impressed.

  6. When you say, "He spent most of his career as the 3rd-best shortstop in the AL. At various times, he was ranked behind (by seasonal WAR) Cal Ripken, Robin Yount, and Tony Fernandez. Trammell was the top AL shortstop by WAR only in 1987 and 1988. Hey--being the 3rd-best shortstop for a long period of time isn't bad, but again, it might not be HOF worthy."

    You also have to remember that Cal Ripken was originally an 3B who became a SS(who eventually went back back to playing 3B), Robin Yount was only a SS for 11 years, and Tony Fernandez was a SS for 14 years, while Trammell spent 20 years at the position for 20 years and played for over 2100 games. So while the other 3 had great years at SS Trammell was the only one to be durable enough to last at a position that is that demanding. Don't forget he also had positive numbers at both Rtot and Rtot/yr at the end of his career, something even a number of GG winners don't have. I still think it boils down to the fact that being a SS as long as he was and playing in the era he did should really give him more consideration for the HOF than what he has been getting since his eligibilty. He was the closest thing to a 5-tool SS at that time and think there should be a point that he'll be honored for it.

  7. It's the reflection in Trammell's glasses...

  8. I agree with poster #1. Both Tram and Whitaker belong in the HOF, but I think they are long shots. As players I thought both of them were going to end up in the HOF. Now it seems that the great 1984 Tiger team could get shut out of the Hall.

    I am not sure why the BBWWAA shows such little respect for them.

    When he retired Tram was probably 8th in WAR for SS. Falling to 11th as Jeter, Larkin and A-Rod surpassed him. Like I said, to me, he belongs.

  9. I think people also forget he started in 1977 at a time where SS were players such as Ozzie Smith, Tom Veryzer and Bucky Dent so the fact that hit .285 in his career says that he and also Robin Yount helped the position evolve to a threat at the plate besides the glove. He hit .300 with 9 HRs and 65 RBIs in 1980. Not to many SS were doing that in that era. ARod, Jeter and even Nomar came quite a bit later. Trammell was a player who helped changed the role of the SS. So why not elect him into the HOF?

  10. I don't know, I always liked Trammell as a player (and Whitaker), but I never viewed either as a HOFer.

    And while Brett in #4 makes a good point about a Larkin election probably enhancing Trammell's future chances, I wouldn't put my life savings on Larkin getting in anytime soon, either.

    I guess the point being, if the majority feel Larkin to be the superior player, and seeing as he isn't a slam dunk for election, then the BBWAA pretty much has Trammell pegged accurately?

  11. Trammell (and Whitaker) are both among the top 10 or 12 among at their position all time and both clearly belong in the Hall of Fame. In my opinion, Trammell's exclusion is the Halls biggest error of omission because writers should be sophisticated enough by now to understand his value as a player. Tim Raines is another glaring recent mistake by the BWAA.

  12. #11, One Hundred Percent correct on Raines! Andy, has there been a Rains/HOF poll?

    I look at Raines' Runs Created for a six year stretch and truly believe the wrong former Expo outfielder was elected to the Hall.

  13. Larkin got over 50% in the first year on ballot --he'll go in in the next 3-7 years. Trammell was a better player than Whitaker. I remember them playing, and Trammell was always considered the better of the two. As for Raines not getting in, lets give it a little time --he's been on the ballot 3 years and is making slow gains. Raines isn't some inner-circe guy --lets see where he is in 3-4 more years.

  14. Mike Felber Says:

    Not necessarily Chuck. Era, raw #s, & a distribution of abilities often illogically give players a disadvantage. Rice was of a similar era, but had his value artificially inflated by these things-& add in team/line up. And is in the reverse position of adding value only with his bat. Hence misperceptions of value.

    I could see Trammell & Whitaker out for Small hall guys. Though still we gotta notice who is producing enough value to make the cut. Trammell is not very different from Sweet Lou-better peak, less consistent. Both seem worthy, & seeing hos few were good all around at their positions in convincing.

    Unless your standards for the Hall are rigorous. In which case many others should be rejected, even those already in who are not the worst, most obvious bad choices.

  15. @9

    You should say re-evolved to being a hitter's position. In the '40s and '50s there were quite a few heavy-hitting SSs, many of which won MVP awards. Marty Marion, Lou Boudreau, Vern Stephens and, the best of all, Ernie Banks all flourished in this era. Banks, in fact, won back-to-back MVPs in '58 and '59 playing SS for some dreadful Cubs teams. If you compare Trammell to his contemporaries he looks pretty good. If you compare him beyond his era...I don't think he stacks up that great.

  16. Andy, I know you're just trying to outline the best arguments pro and con, so my remarks are not directed at you.

    "At various times, he was ranked behind (by seasonal WAR) Cal Ripken, Robin Yount, and Tony Fernandez." (emphasis added)

    -- First off, let's get Tony Fernandez right out of this discussion. There may have been a year or two when Fernandez had a higher WAR, but there was hardly a 2-year span and certainly no 3-year period when that was true, not while both were still full-time shortstops.

    Trammell made the AL Top 10 in Position Player WAR 6 times in 8 years from 1983-90, including a 2nd and two 3rds; Fernandez made the leaders just once, a 5th in 1985.

    There were 9 seasons that Trammell and Fernandez were both full-time shortstops, 1985-93. Trammell won the WAR matchup in 7 of those 9 years, usually by 2 wins or more. Fernandez won only in 1985 (3.4-2.2) and 1989 (3.6-3.1). For those 9 years, Trammell averaged a 4.5, Fernandez 3.3.

    And don't forget, by the time Fernandez came on the scene, Trammell had already made his mark with outstanding 1983-84 seasons, culminating with his colossal 1984 postseason performance -- OPS over 1.300 in both ALCS and WS, and the WS MVP.

    So, forget Fernandez. Doesn't matter what anyone thought at any time, or who had a higher Q rating -- he was never Trammell's equal.

  17. @9

    Marty Marion had only a .263 BA, Lou Boudreau hit .295 but didn't have nowhere the speed or power Trammell had, Vern Stephens was an excellent hitting SS and maybe does deserve the HOF, but looks like he was the exception to the rule and didn't have the speed Trammell did and really there wasn't a SS that after that hit as well as Stephens did at the time or after. Ernie Banks was a great HR hitter but was average at other aspects of hitting and only played SS for 9 years. Actually he played more games at 1B in his career. So out of all of them before the big hitter era of the mid-90s Trammell was the best all-around SS. Maybe playing in Detroit didn't help but he is still one of the most underrated players whoever played the.

  18. I am a small Hall guy, Mike, which you undoubtedly are aware.

    That said, Trammell would be, by far, not the worst player, or even SS, elected.

    Trammell and Whitaker hold the ML record for most years together as teammates (19), which, in this day and age is almost HOF worthy in itself.

    It would have been cool to see both elected together, but, alas, that's not going to happen.

    But if Larkin gets in, that certainly would help Trammell, as Rice's election helped Andre Dawson.

    It saddens me, however, to think someday Jeff Kent may be elected, while at the same time a far superior player was one and done on the ballot.

  19. BTW I meant @15. They really need an edit icon for these posts.

  20. It's hard to say that he deserves to be in but he is definitely more deserving than a number of members inducted many years ago.

  21. Larry R @ 15

    Marion's claim to fame was his defense, not his bat. Stephens numbers were inflated by playing in Boston. Boudreau is a reasonable comp but Trammell's career was almost twice as long. Banks is the 3rd best hitting shortstop of all-time (if you consider ARod a shortstop) but was only a shortstop for 7 years & played only 45% of his career at the position.

    Post-Honus Wagner who were shortstops who were clearly better than Trammell? Probably only Arky Vaughan & Joe Cronin plus Banks, if you count him as a shortstop. The only reason Trammell wasn't a complete slam dunk for the HOF is that he was a contemporary of 4 of the 10 greatest shortstops of all time (Ripken, Yount, Larkin & Smith) and his career ended just as the offensive explosion of the 90's began. In 1996, 6 of the 12 greatest shortstops of all time were playing plus Yount had just retired a couple years before and Garciaparra looked like he might join the club for several seasons.

    It would be like keeping Greenberg out of the HOF because he wasn't as good as Gehrig or Foxx or Duke Snider out because he wasn't as good as Mantle or Mays. It's just a fluke concentration of the best talent all playing at the same time.

  22. Jim Bouldin Says:

    Ok full disclosure, I'm a lifetime Tigers fan, but I don't think it's all fair to hold the horrible '03 season against Trammel. He should be considered on playing merits alone. The Tigers were terribly mismanaged in the front office for several years (started by Schembechler) and I'm not sure there's a lot that anyone could have done that particular year.

  23. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    We are in a rare time in wnich there are three middle infielders -- Trammell, Whitaker and Larkindeserving of the Hall, and to be Frank with you {pun intended}, I am not sure whether any of the three will make it.

  24. #10 and 23,

    Larkin got 51% of the vote his first year on ballot --please, he'll go in within another 4-6 years. Whitaker dropped off the first year ( a crime), and Trammell has stayed on ballot 9 years not getting over 22%. Point is, Larkin is a lock to get in with that number his first year.

  25. His 2nd most similar player is Edgar Renteria. Renteria doesn't look like a HOF'er, but with post season heroics in 2 different WS, and potentially 2500+ hits or more, he may end up looking like one in the end. Renteria also started his career at 19. However, players who do that usually don't have much left in their 30's....

    I'd say Trammell is close, and better than many players that are in, but I don't think he quite belongs.

  26. Hall of Famers are like great art. I know it when I see it. I don't need numbers (although they can help) all I need are my eyes and experience. Trammell is a Hall of Famer, as is Craig Biggio.

  27. Thanks for putting the Trammell poll so close to the Whitaker poll, Andy.  I didn't get around to commenting on the one for Lou (although I did vote), so I will combine my post for these two, who shall forever be linked due to their long time occupation of the middle infield at Tiger Stadium
    .I went through a period toward the end of their time together where I was sure that Trammell was the best of the two and the more likley to find a bust in Cooperstown.  Then, as Whitaker seemed to extend his career with good years, I began to believe he was the better player - and largely unrecognized.  My penchant for second baseman may have had something to do with that, but he seemed to do a lot of "little things." Beward the little things. Andy's poll about Whitaker and the HOF made me go back and review his career - and, by extension, Trammell's.  I was shocked.  I can say without reservation that I do not believe Lou Whitaker belongs in the Hall of Fame - and I am blown away that about 70% of the people who voted thought he was qualified.    If you believe in a small hall or a large hall, I would think that that being the best player on your team would be a good requirement.  I can't point to a period where Lou Whitaker was the best player on his team for more than a year.  Even though I think WAR has issues (although is a positive step in the right direction), I will use it in this argument so the WAR proponents don't throw it back at me.  Lou led his team in WAR 3 times - and one year his team was 59-103.  Another year they won 84 games and one year they were in contention.  Ryne Sandberg led his team in WAR 5 times - and before you go on about how bad the Cubs were, in two of those seasons the Cubs won the division and in the other three they had a winning percentage higher than normal during his career.  Roberto Alomar led his team in WAR three times - twice when they won a division, and one year they won a WS.  In the early years of Whitaker's career, the best player on the Tigers was Steve Kemp - or maybe Jack Morris or maybe Lance Parrsih - and the teams weren't very good.  They got better and the best players were Trammell and Gibson - and Chet Lemon was probably better than Lou in those years.  And then the Tigers melted toward mediocrity (or worse, see the 59 win season) and the best players were Tony Phillips and Cecil Fielder and Lou Whitaker. If the Tigers were a juggernaut for a decade and Lou Whitaker had been the 3rd or 4th best player, maybe. But they had one incredible year (where he was about the 7th best regular) and another year where they won the division and a couple more where they came close. My love of second sackers notwithstanding, that's not a HOF career.

    Trammell - well, that depends on where you draw the line. I ran quickly thorugh the OPS+ of HOF SS's - and I might have missed one or two, so forgive me. Ahead of Trammell are:
    Wagner, Vaughn, Wright, Banks, Davis, Boudreau, Cronin, Yount, Appling. Ripken has the same OPS + (112), but in the years he was primarily a SS, it is higher. So - 10 or 11 are better in this regard. There are about 10 with an OPS + lower. There may be as many questionable selections at SS as any position (Bancroft, Jackson, Maranville, Rizzuto, Tinker, Wallace). I think Trammell stacks up well against them. So, the answer might dpeend on if you think there are too many SS's in the HOF - or we need more.

  28. I remember trading baseball cards in the late 80's/early 90's and Trammell basically was considered a 80-90% probable HOF. He was a rare SS that combined good offense with good defense with good base stealing ability. I think a few of things hurt his public perception.

    1-He continued playing until 1995 so he wasn't eligible for the HOF until 2000 which was right in the middle of the steroid era and right in the middle of a peak period of Three Great SS, A-Rod, Jeter, and Nomar. Suddenly his offensive numbers from the 80's didn't seem so impressive anymore

    2-He had the misfortune of playing in the American League during the 80's when he was consistently the 2nd or 3rd best SS in the league mainly because he was playing behind 2 future HOF SS. I think there was a psychological hurdle in electing the 3rd best player at a position during a certain era which the writers were not willing to make.

    3-He got robbed of the 1987 MVP award that would have improved his status.

    4-He was a 5 tool player that ironically don't do very well in HOF voting . The writers say that a 5 tool player is important yet they tend to vote for specialists. Writers tend to only vote for 5 tool players who are among the top 20-30 all time.

  29. Trammell is a six-time All-Star, won four Gold Gloves, and was the World Series MVP. It should be a no-brain...especially if you factor in 1,003 RBI's.
    Not bad for a weak offensive position.

  30. LJF @ 27--

    I can't buy one thing you said-- being the best player on your team is NOT a good indicator of the Hall. Is Jeff Kent unworthy because he was always worse than Barry Bonds? Because Gehrig was no Ruth, is he excluded? What about the Big Red Machine? Should only Joe Morgan have gone in, with Johnny Bench excluded because he wasn't as good? I'm sorry, but a lot of great teams, and even a lot of bad ones, have a few great players. Look at the St. Louis Cardinals this year, for example. Pujols? Incredible. Holliday? Impressive. Three of the starters? Excellent. But the rest of the team was just, well, BAD. So lots of good players can play on bad teams. And when you have a team like that, there can be two or even three HOF-quality players on a team, without them being any good (please see Santo, Williams, and Banks for more information). Only one can be the best, but more than one may deserve baseball's highest honor.

  31. Detroit Michael Says:

    When a poll asks whether a player will get into the Hall of Fame, it is nearly irrelevant what the BBWAA balloting does. Nearly all of the borderline decisions are made by various editions of the veterans committees, decades after the player retired. Occasionally there are borderline calls made by the BBWAA (Kirby Puckett perhaps? Tony Perez? Catfish Hunter?) but the veterans committee largely establishes the blurry line of who is and isn't a Hall of Famer.

    I think Trammell should be in the Hall of Fame based on the de facto standards established so far. He's among the top 10 shortstops in MLB history.

    It's a closer call, but I think he's likely to eventually be inducted into the Hall.

  32. #30,

    I think part of his point was that Whitaker wasn't often even the second best but usually the 3rd or 4th best on the Tigers teams. I'm sure many would disagree here and put Whitaker ahead of Morris almost every year. Whitaker is a weird candidate given it seems he was under- appreciated back in the day, but that the WAR also seems to overrate him some too. He's hurt a bit by having 8 dWAR and the fact he was platooned and not media-savvy. He's tough to put a finger on. My sense is he should have stayed on the ballot for a good long time, had a chance to get some traction, but ultimately would be solidly borderline-out. Trammell on the otherhand would be borderline solidly in in my book.

  33. "You also have to remember that Cal Ripken was originally an 3B who became a SS(who eventually went back back to playing 3B)"

    That's a misleading description of Cal Ripken. Sure, he came up as a 3B but moved to short after about 3 months. Then never left the position for about 14 years. If he had retired after 1996 instead of moving to third he'd still be an easy HOFer, almost his entire value came from his extended peak at short. For his career, Ripken played about 160 more games at short than Trammell did.

    Yount, A-Rod, and Banks are split position players, but Ripken is not.

  34. [...] about the Hall of Fame.  In a pretty detailed analysis, Baseball Reference Blog provides the positives and the negatives to Alan Trammell’s candidacy.  It looks like there’s a large consensus that thinks Tram is deserving (close to 68%) but [...]

  35. Interesting results 500 votes in. 67.5% say he deserves to be in, but only 19.3% think he'll actually get in (and more than a quarter of those people still don't think he deserves it.)

    That's a really large disparity and indicates a perceived disconnect between what's deserved and what the voters will do.

  36. @17,21

    You're right about Marion...I thought he was better offensively than that. As for Stephens playing in Fenway...Trammell played in Tiger. They're both bandboxes. And Banks won his MVPs as a SS.

    The point I was trying to make is that this position has been up and down over history as to what the prototype was. In the '60s it had gone from Banks, et al to defensive specialists with no redeeming offensive skills (Dal Maxvill, Hal Lanier and, my favorite, Ray Oyler) or one-dimensional offensive players (Maury Wills, Luis Aparicio, etc). By the '80s the offensive SS was making a comeback and Trammell was one of many in that realm, as has been pointed out in this thread. I still don't see him as a step above the rest in his era or earlier ones.

  37. I'm surprised that so many people consider that Trammell is worthy of consideration.

    One thing I rarely see mentioned is that it is the "Hall of Fame", not the Hall of Stats. In other words, there seems to me that there is also a consideration of the unmeasured aspect of "Fame" that goes into the selection.

    I don't think Trammell was famous enough and I don't his stats warrant him being in.

    He has a career OPS+ of only 110. He never put together more than 3 strong offensive years in a row. He was never considered the best at his position defensively (at least that I know of).

    The guys who have a career OPS+ of 110 or lower and made it into the HOF almost all have some kind of mitigating factor to get them in; most of them have several mitigating factors; some examples:

    Lots of hits, like Brock and Frisch & Ripkin.

    Many were household names; e.g., "Tinker to Evers to Chance," Brock, Rizzuto and Ripkin,

    Some of them were considered the best at their position during the time they played or maybe all-time defensively: Brooks Robinson and Ozzie Smith (who were also close to household names while they played).

    Some of them had high career batting averages, like Waner or Traynor.

    Many of them set significant records like Brock or Ripkin.

    Some of them were famous for other reasons, or made non-player contributions, like Rizzuto, Walter Alston or Branch Rickey.

    And there are some who we look at and think "WTF"? Because the reasons they are in are beyond the average fan of today; for examples, Dave Bancroft, Ray Shalk, and Bobby Wallace to name a few.

    I think the average fan 50 years from now, if he saw Trammell in the HOF, would think "WTF?"

    We don't need another WTF in the HOF.

    Just my humble opinion.

  38. uh oh, another person wrote "Ripkin".

  39. I sure did write "Ripkin". And what's worse is that Ripken had a career OPS of 112, which makes it so he doesn't fit into the category of players I was writing about.

    But it's not my fault his whole family didn't know how to spell.

  40. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    "Marty Marion, Lou Boudreau, Vern Stephens and, the best of all, Ernie Banks all flourished in this era. Banks, in fact, won back-to-back MVPs in '58 and '59 playing SS for some dreadful Cubs teams. If you compare Trammell to his contemporaries he looks pretty good. If you compare him beyond his era...I don't think he stacks up that great."

    Marion wasn't anywhere near the offensive player Trammell was. He was worse than Ozzie Smith with the bat. Great defensively but no Ozzie, and Trammell was also very good if less so -- he's clearly better overall than Marion.

    Boudreau looks a bit better in rate terms during his career (better defense and roughly equivalent offense - better OPS+ but trammel has better Rbase, roe and gidp numbers), but for only 15 years, including only 1500 games at short to Trammell's 2100. Using B-R war and the john Q formula, Trammell comes out a fair bit ahead (53 to 48) And Boudreau is in the hall. Stephens is equivalent offensively, but just average defensively, and again, shorter career at short. Not even close to Alan in overall *or* peak value.

    Banks was a lot better, for about 7 years. Then he was just average, and mostly didn't play short anymore either. Ernie had a Griffey-like career, with a 7 year peak that screamed "inner-circle" followed by a long stretch where he varied between a bit above average to just above replacement.

    Not even the smallest haller is likely to kick Banks out of their hall of merit because his peak was so good, but on the John Q meter, he's not any farther ahead of trammell than Trammel is over Boudreau and other borderliners: 58 to 53.

    So of the guys you mention, only one is clearly better and he's nowhere near borderline -- if we had a poll on Ernie Banks, I'd set the over-under at around 97%.

    Boudreau is closer to the borderline (though in the actual hall), and if you are a peak-heavy guy, you could maybe make an argument over Trammell, but I'd have trouble buying it.

    The others had nowhere near the career Trammell did.

    Elect him already foolish writers.

  41. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    "So, the answer might depend on if you think there are too many SS's in the HOF - or we need more.

    No, the answer doesn't depend on that. If you think there are too many SS in the hall, then you go ahead and vote in Trammell and Larkin anyway because unless your ideal hall is very very teeny, they bloody well deserve it. And then you resolve not to vote in any more guys like rizzuto and tinker etc.

    What I see is a lot of writers who like to yap about 5 tool players, and then vote in borderline specialists and ignore any 5 tool player who doesn't smack you in the face with being one of the best all time (a la Ripken, Mays).

    If your hall isn't big enough for Trammell, I want to know who you would kick out. If that list doesn't include pretty much everybody with <50 JohnQ number (i.e. a lot of guys who there has been no question about), then it isn't about small hall, it's about not understanding how good this guy was in all aspects of the game.

  42. Alan Trammell:

    B-R WAR: 66.9 (borderline solidly in)
    Baseball Gauge WAR: 58.3 (borderline on the fence)
    Fangraph WAR: 69.5 (borderline very solidly in)
    B-P WARP: 78.1 (solidly in)
    Win Shares: 313.2 (borderline in)
    WSAB: 112.1 (borderline on fence)
    HOF Monitor: 118 (borderline in)
    HoF Standard: 40 (borderline out)
    John Q's --best 7+career WAR/2=53 (solidly in)

    84 was a great signature season and won WS MVP and his raw numbers are good, but not great for SS of that time. Please don't take this wrong, I think Detroit doesn't support their potential HoFers enough. Yes, there will always be borderline candidates, and yes, they sometimes need a push from their base. I disagree with above, I remember most thinking Trammell was a HoFer back when he played. In conclusion, he'd be a solid BBWAA pick, but a great Vet pick, which i suspect is how he'll end up going in.

  43. Should have read: 87 was a great signature season and won 84 WS MVP and his raw numbers are good, but not great for SS of that time.

  44. @25 -- The fact that Renteria is Tram's "2nd most similar" is meaningless. Only the similarity score itself is relevant, and in this case, 895 -- which is not particularly similar.

    Two things to keep in mind about similarity scores: (a) They look at raw numbers, with no adjustment for park or league context; and (b) the position played is a big component. That's why Renteria scores as moderately similar to Trammell. But once you factor in the league offensive context, there's no similarity -- Trammell had a 110 OPS+, Renteria 94.

  45. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    Joseph: it's not the hall of offense.

    Alan Trammell played shortstop, a position that has tremendous defensive importance, and with fairly rare exceptions, players at short do not bat above average over their whole careers. His career OPS+ does not look that impressive when you are comparing him to corner outfielders and 1Bs. When you compare him with career and half career shortstops -- it starts to look very good indeed.

    In career OPS+ He's behind about 13 guys with even half his games at SS, and at least 4 of those 13, he probably had a better career taking into account all aspects of the game and full career and peak value. The others vary between inner circle all-timer (Wagner) down to guys who were still mortal locks for the hall (Banks, Yount, Jeter), and then Larkin who isn't in yet, but like Trammell, would be a lock in a just world. Of those behind him in OPS+, only Ozzie Smith has a realistic case to be better overall. So he's somewhere between the 9th and 12th best SS of all time in a hall of fame that holds around 150 position players.

  46. Joseph @ 37

    What your argument seems to boil down to is that Trammell didn't have that one great "hook" for his candidacy. I don't buy it.

    Bill Mazeroski was the best ever at turning the double play. He's in the Hall.
    Bobby Grich was better at EVERYTHING else. He was one and done. Lou Brock stole a ton of bases. Tim Raines stole almost as many and was thrown out less than half as often plus he was a superior player in almost every other aspect. He's still waiting. Ernie "Schnoz" Lombardi had a cannon for an arm and won 2 titles and an MVP. His was one of the most publicized candidacies in history. Bill Freehan was a far more complete and much better player got 2 votes for the HOF in his only year of eligibilty.

    Sammy Sosa hit 250 more home runs than Joe Dimmagio. Does that make him a better player? 99.9% of real baseball fans know better. Bill Madlock won 4 batting titles, Ron Santo never lead the league in any triple crown category. Did that make him a better player & more deserving for the hall of fame? I'd bet that almost no one who understands the game would think so.

    Trammell was a complete player who was one of the best ever at his position. He belongs in the Hall.

  47. Gee, you'd think his 87 season and 84 WS MVP would be the needed hooks to get him over the hump. Anyone that actually saw him during the 84 WS and down the stretch in 87 would say why is this guy not in. To put it in perspective, he basically single-handedly carried Detroit into the playoffs in 87 --this was almost unheard of for a SS to offensively carry a team for two months! He was crazy good down the stretch, and he clearly got robbed of the MVP in 87. I also think his managing days hurt him a bit. He could make a late run for the Hall via BBWAA, but I think he'll end going in as a Vet pick.

  48. @M. Sullivan:

    Defense is the Rodney Dangerfield of baseball.

    And in a lot of ways, the HOF really is the Hall of Offensive Production. Shortstops are way under-represented it seems. Very few players get in for defensive work.

    Please note that Ralph Kiner said, "Singles hitters drive Fords, home run hitters drive Cadillacs"

    Now here's a funny thing: I would consider myself an average baseball fan, at best (other than for my slight obsession with stats). I know that Ralph Kiner said that. And other than these periodic debates about Trammell, I would barely know who he is.

    Unless they are awesome for some reason, good defensive players are less-known than singles hitters. (And now I just noticed that Trammell only ever finished in the top 10 in defensive War twice and never in the top five--so, that means that throughout his career, there were almost always 10 SS playing better defensive, yes? )

    Back to my point about being awesome and famous.

    Ozzie Smith? Yes, he was famous and people who watched him play said he was amazing and awesome; "Wizard of Oz,", right?

    Lou Brock? Yep--he stole a crap load of bases (okay, I don't even know what position Brock played, I just know he stole more bases than anybody until Henderson).

    Brooks Robinson? When I was a kid, even my family of Yankee fans spoke of him with reverence. Phil Rizzuto? He went to the world series about a zillion times, and won an MVP--everybody in the country saw him every September/October--I don't know that he was a great player, but he was famous no doubt.

    I'm sure I could go on.

    I suggest they change the name to "Hall of Awesome". Because I think you should have done something fame-worthy or awesome to be in it.

    Maybe in your opinion, Trammell is a victim of circumstance. He played in Detroit or in an era when he was over-shadowed by other players. But that seems to be the difference between being famous and not being famous--somebody over shadows you.

    He had a lot of solid years punctuated by some pretty average years and one really great year. I'm sure he was a great guy. But not famous. And he didn't do anything awesome.

  49. "Tim Raines stole almost as many and was thrown out less than half as often plus he was a superior player in almost every other aspect."

    If laughter really is the best medicine, then I don't have to worry about getting sick for awhile.


  50. Of the HoFers Trammell ranks 10th in defensive WAR and he was a better hitter than at least 5 of them (also some of the 10 ahead of him didn't play their entire careers at SS). He'd make a solid pick. He passes by way of the visual test and the stat test in my book.

  51. @ hartvig 46

    That's not my argument, but what you say appears to be true whether you buy it or not.

    We aren't talking about who is better, but who should be in the HOF. Dimaggio gets in way before Sosa. Almost every one would agree he was a better player at his peak. He missed years because of WWII.

    And he was way more famous. His hits in 56 games in a row. Played for the yankees. married Monroe. Simon an Garfunkal wrote him into a song.

    But Sosa would get in for sure if he didn't have the steroids thing to worry about.

    Your Lombardi/Freehan analogy breaks down because I knew who Lombardi was--I barely remembered Freehan--I would venture to guess that most average fans would not remember Freehan. And Lombardi's OPS+ for career is 126 vs. 112 for Freehan. Lombardi won two batting titles--something rare for a catcher and two MVP's. Freehan didn't.

    The Brock/Raines comparison doesn't work either. Brock had 3000 hits. If you have 3000 hits and your name is NOT Pete Rose, you get in the hall of fame. Which may or may not be fair, but that's the way it is.

  52. they will both get in 40 years from now via the veteran's committee

  53. by that i mean trammell and whitaker

  54. John DiFool Says:

    Last time I checked, the '84 Tigers were the last team (whose members were at least mostly HoF eligible) which didn't have a single (played a significant role) HoFer on it (Jack Morris may or may not thwart that trend). It's still amazing to me how little the voters remember that team, one which they absolutely were worshipful of at the time (remember the 35-5 start?).

    [Be right back, checking for other teams who fit that description]

  55. I like how one poster claimed that defense is the "Rodney Dangerfield of baseball," hilarious. My brother is the single cheerleader for Frank White's HOF candidacy. But while we're on shortstops, how about we mention Cecil Travis. The old Senator was tied with Wagner for the best career BA for a shortstop when he entered the infantry during WWII and then suffered severe frostbite in his feet while fighting in the war during the harsh European winters. When he came back, he wasn't even half the player he was before the war. Travis, thanks to Bucky Harris' managerial approach, saw plenty action at third base also, so he isn't a predominant shortstop.

    On my blog, during the summer, I posted a poll asking folks who was the best player at each position currently not in the HOF and Larkin smoked Trammell at shortstop. I even think Alan came in behind Vern Stephens and Travis, but I'd have to look that up to be accurate.

  56. John DiFool Says:

    Going forward from 1984, only counting guys as potential HoFers if they are currently near mortal locks at worst:

    1987 Dodgers only had Don Sutton throwing 87 innings, but I guess he counts.
    2003 Angels don't have anyone who has a real chance, unless you want to be hopeful vis a vis K-Rod getting to 500 saves.
    2004/2007 Red Sox have Manny and his steroid tag, but also Pedro on the first team and Schill on the 2nd. These are all Hall-quality players I'd say, absent the 'roids issue.
    2005 White Sox had an aging and injured Frank Thomas for only 34 games...
    Too soon to tell for '08 Phils or '10 Giants (Utley? Lincecum?).

    Going backward from 1984:

    1981 Dodgers' best candidate of course is Garvey (and that's dead in the water, for now).
    1967 Tiger's squad had Al Kaline missing about 40% of the season. Like the '84 team this was mostly HoVG players up and down the lineup and rotation, but only Kaline was a great.
    After that you have to go all the way back to the 1940 Reds, who had marginal electee Ernie Lombardi (tho he's near the top of the list of players I'd use a time machine to go back and see-our Generic Avatar Dude is at the top of that list BTW), but technically they don't count of course...

    After that we run into the scads of marginal VC candidates elected in the 60's and 70's (the 1924 Pirates for example had 3 HoFers, but all below 50 WAR). 1919 Reds similar story. 1914 Braves had Johnny Evers and Rabbit Maranville as their DP combo. That's it.

    So, 1903 to 2007 I count only the '81 Dodgers and '84 Tigers as team who currently don't have any HoFers (current or very strongly arguable) who played a big role for them that season. 2003 Angels and 2005 White Sox will depend on how certain players play out their careers, but I'm not taking any bets, but frankly someone from each of these teams will probably get in eventually (if baseball survives as a sport for at least another century). It'd be absolutely amazing to me if the Tigers were still whitewashed a 100 years from now.

  57. Do managers counts --Mike Scioscia has a reasonable chance to make it if he keeps managing. He could count for '81 Dodgers and '03 Angels. After that, I guess Reggie Smith or Garvey have the best chances from '81 Dodgers. Smith I'd say no way, and like you said, Garvey is dead for now.

    As to '84 Tigers you have Morris, Trammell, and Whitaker. Trammell is the best pick, but Morris could go in in 2012 in down Hall year. And yes, that 35-5 start was amazing.

  58. If there's a guy from the 84 Tigers who makes it because he was consistently good (which I think is a dubious criterion), it is Whitaker before Trammell. His offensive production was much more steady--he had some of his best years in his mid-30's, and didn't fade at the end of his career. Just as strong on defense as Trammell and Whitaker has a higher career OPS+.

    But I'd rather see Kirk Gibson make it--not because he has great stats, but because I can never forget seeing him limp up to the plate and hit that home run for the Dodgers in the 1988 World Series. I know it's not realistic to have him in the HOF, but that's my sentimental favorite and far more famous than the other 84 Tigers.

  59. Sorry, Trammell's peak is much better and he was universally considered the best of the two. Also, his 87' season was legendary and they don't win the '84 WS without Trammell. While watching them play it was obvious who was better. Also, their WAR's and OPS+ are pretty close. Those mid 30's years for Whitaker he was a platoon player --his OPS+ should be a bit better feasting on pitchers he can hit better.

    Oh, Sparky's in the Hall and he's from the '84 Tigers (and Reds too) -obviously not a player. Too bad Sparky's not doing too well. Great manager. 3 titles 2 different teams. Impressive.

  60. Whitaker and Trammell both polled about 70% yes.

  61. A coupe of things

    First the problem with Trammel is that he played at the same time that a better offensive SS played (Ripkin with his ridiculous played games streak, otherwise they are fairly similar) and a better defensive SS played (Smith) so he didn't stand out in one particular area. Trammel was an overall superior SS to them but since they looked so much better in their particular specialties it is easy to overlook Trammel.

    Second, as much as I like Lou, he batter 2nd, in front of Tram, for 19 years that had to attribute to his numbers. He was good, very good, but not Hall worthy. He should have been on the ballot for more then a year though.

  62. If Ozzie is a first ballot then Tram should be in. Ozzie was a great fielder, but mediocre hitter. Tram was a very good fielder and very good hitting shortstop. To me 2 very goods =or > than great and mediocre

  63. These HOF discussions range all over the map because of all the different perspectives on what defines a HOF player and just how many of them there should be. I'm sure I won't convince anybody who already has an opinion about Trammell. So I'll just say this:

    Fans and media give a lot of lip service to the well-rounded player. In reality, they pay far more attention to players whose talents are concentrated into a few aspects of the game. If he played today, Trammell would probably get even less notice than he did in his own time.

    But Trammell was just quietly good at everything -- good average, drew walks, ran the bases well, good fielder, good bunter, good hit-and-run man, rarely struck out. No, he wasn't great at anything, and he wasn't charismatic or quotable, and that's why he's not going to be in the Hall of Fame in my lifetime.

    But in my heart, I know that Tram was more valuable than most of the shortstops in the Hall of Fame, and that will have to content me.

  64. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Is there some reason for what seems to be inconsistency in his career? Did he have seasons with a lot of nagging injuries that would drag his numbers down? I grew up during Trammell's time but I really don't remember if there was some explanation.

    Are his numbers (at least, his OPS+) really more inconsistent than other top players? It seems like it, but perhaps that's just because we see them bouncing around the 100 threshold. If someone else was jumping from 110 to 150, we might not notice it as much as Tram going from 90 to 130.

  65. Mike Felber Says:

    Fame should not be a criteria. Even if you are literal, is must be acknowledged that the name is an evocative title, not a reasonable or intended arbiter for admission. The HOF bylaws do not point to renown it itself. If we are to be fair & discerning, we must distinguish between what caused fame. being on a good team or colorful is not what the HOF should be about. Nor a few memorable moments. OK, if it is close, & someone has a "Mr. baseball" type of spirit, give him that little edge. But we should care about who contributed how much, Career & for a few peak years. And comparing how good someone is to others at the position, & how well represented that is, are good questions.

    HOF monitor & standards are like similarity scores: they consider raw #s & how someone is perceived. But Matt supplies a useful service by noting where these guys fall on the other career metrics. If they contained measures of peak years too, or it was done according to John Q's averaging of best 7 years & career, that would be even more useful.

    We should ask questions like why is B-P WAR 1/3(!) higher Baseball Gauge WARP? That is an immense difference for systems that try to scientific. What about them gives sometimes wholly incompatible results? Examining that will let us be discerning about how much & what kind of mental adjustments to make when looking at which metric.

  66. Mike Felber Says:

    I meant why is B-P WAR 1/3 higher than B G WARP in Trammell's case. Though these kinds of variations appear fairly regularly, & even anything approaching a 10% difference, routine amongst all these systems, is significant.

  67. @Mike:

    I not only wonder why B-P WAR is 1/3 higher than BG WARP, I wonder what the frack you mean. (smile) Seriously, I would love to know what you are talking about.

    From my more average understanding, I am looking at a guy who 11 out of 20 seasons was a below average batter (at least according to OPS+), never led the league in any significant category, has the same career defensive WAR as B.J. Surhoff, less than 200 HR's, less than 250 SB's, never won an MVP, and I barely remember him.

    P.S. Andy: I'd like to see one of these discussions about Graig Nettles. His defensive war is 32nd all time (I think maybe in the top 5 or 6 all time for 3rd base?), he used to look amazing making plays, and he hit 390 home runs (5th all time for 3B)--he hit the 8th highest HR total in the 70's and 13th most RBI's.

  68. Honolulu Blue Says:

    I commented in the Lou Whitaker article and voted in both. I'll make some brief comments and get out of the way:

    * I think Lou and Alan are comparable players, and their HOF resumes are similar. As a HOF candidate, Alan might be a tiny bit better - he had bigger seasons, he timed his big seasons better, he played shortstop, he had a higher profile after his playing career ended (including time as a manager).

    * I think Alan is one of the top 20 shortstops of all-time, but probably not in the top 10. Whether that makes a Hall of Famer out of him depends on how big you want it.

    * I think he'll run out of time before he's elected by the BBWAA, but...

    * The Veterans' Committee, whatever it will be called in the future, will give him the call, I think. It would be nice to see them finger both Lou and Alan at the same time, but I'm not sure they will be that clever.

  69. #67,

    "From my more average understanding, I am looking at a guy who 11 out of 20 seasons was a below average batter (at least according to OPS+), never led the league in any significant category, has the same career defensive WAR as B.J. Surhoff, less than 200 HR's, less than 250 SB's, never won an MVP, and I barely remember him".

    People do realize we're talking about the SS position right? I wonder how many SS were very good fielders and above average hitters for 50% of their careers. For some of those years Trammell was a well above average hitter. Again, Trammell is somewhere around 10th best SS all-time, and he had some very big signature moments on an iconic team. He's borderline, but borderline in. You simply cannot compare OPS+ in a vacuum as if you'd expect the same offensive production as a LF.

    I agree, the Hall is all talk when it comes 5-tool players. With that said, i think they do a relatively good job with electing players, and to say the Hall is a joke is to not understand what the Hall actually is --it's only a joke because some think of the Hall in some ridiculously idealistic manner.

  70. Mike,

    A big part of the difference between metrics comes with the imperfect nature of replacement level. While the metrics generally measure the same thing, the zero point is different.

    Even with perfect measuring tools (and these tools aren't perfect), there is likely to be some difference between metrics due to the different baselines.

    As an illustration, suppose you're looking at measuring the a person's height. That's an easy thing to measure, and there's no reason why you can't get perfect results.

    Now, suppose instead you're not interested in a person's total height, but rather you're only interested in how that person's height compares with that of the general population. How do you choose your baseline? You could take random samplings of, say, 50 people and set the baseline at the average shortest person in each set, or you could take the 10th percentile or the average as your baseline. You could take the population as a whole, or you could separate your samples by men and women. You could use fully grown adults only in the sample, or you could include people of all ages, or you could set a different baseline for different age groups. You could take a global sample or you could divide by nationality.

    Now, regardless of the baseline you choose, you have the tools to come up with a perfect measurement, but because there's a judgment call, the numbers can vary even with perfect measuring tools. It's a similar thing for the different WAR systems. You have the element that's scientific (measuring runs saved or created, and converting to wins based on context) but you also have the element that's largely a judgment call (how do you define the hypothetical replacement level?) The fact that there are separate baselines for hitting and for fielding compounds the potential for differences.

    I don't know enough about the B-G WAR to pass judgment on it, but at a glance, one of the things that stands out is that the fielding baseline looks very different. The theory that B-R and Fangraphs uses is that a replacement level player is an average fielder. The theory is that if a player is both a marginal hitter and a marginal fielder, he's not MLB caliber, so for a bad fielder, the offensive bar needed to be replacement level is higher. At a glance, B-G seems to use a much lower baseline for defense, balanced with a higher baseline for offense.

    It's less the specific numbers that we should look at with different systems, and more the interpretation of those numbers. In the B-G system, Trammel ranks 13th for career WAR at SS with about 58. In the F-G ranking, his raw WAR is higher (69), but he ranks 16th among SS. In both systems, he's clustered around Larkin, Reese, Boudreau, and Wallace. B-P's not as easily sortable, and there seems to be more separation there between Trammel (78), Boudreau (76), Larkin (86), Wallace (66), and Reese (60). For B-R, you have Trammell (67), Larkin (69) Reese (67) and Wallace (61) fairly close, with Boudreau (56) lagging.

    In Trammell's case, he seems to be ranked pretty consistently despite the differences in numbers. All four of these have Larkin as the best of these four, and none of them have Trammell as the worst. He's generally surrounded by HoF SS's regardless of the system, but his most consistent peers are the types of guys who took a while to get in and are far from no-brainers. From looking at the different ranking systems, I think the overall paints a pretty solid picture: Larkin's clearly the number one guy, followed by Trammell, and then the order of Boudreau, Reese, and Wallace is less clear due to peak/longevity differences and due to the fact that more of their value is in defense, which is harder to measure (especially for guys who played long ago).

    So, based on career value, he looks to be deserving unless you go by the standards of a very small Hall.

  71. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    Unless they are awesome for some reason, good defensive players are less-known than singles hitters. (And now I just noticed that Trammell only ever finished in the top 10 in defensive War twice and never in the top five--so, that means that throughout his career, there were almost always 10 SS playing better defensive, yes?)

    No, it means there were almost always at least 10 position players *somewhere* saving more runs over average for their position than Trammell.

    He was not an Ozzie Smith, or even Cal Ripken level shortstop, but he's #13 all time in rfield for players with at least 50% of their games at shortstop (and squeaks into the top 10 if you use 75% of games at SS as your cutoff), so he was very strong defensively.

    I'm not sure why I'm supposed to care that one guy (you) doesn't think he's famous enough. I didn't know half the names in the hall of fame until I saw that they were enshrined and looked up their careers. Oddly, I discovered that there were some players who were REALLY FREAKING GOOD that I had never heard of before.

    I kinda thought that was the whole point of having a hall of fame.

  72. masternachos Says:

    This reminds me, when is Whitaker going to be eligible for the VC?
    And, when is the Hall going to announce this year's VC ballot?! When they annonced the changes, their calendar stated 'October 2010'. Didn't happen. Then, two days ago, I emailed the Hall of Fame, asking; they replied 'November.'

  73. He deserves the hall of fame hands down to that idiot ozzie smith who was only good at doing sommersaults

  74. '"Tim Raines stole almost as many and was thrown out less than half as often plus he was a superior player in almost every other aspect."'

    "If laughter really is the best medicine, then I don't have to worry about getting sick for awhile."

    Ahh, Chuck. Just because you choose to be snarky and condescending doesn't make you right.

    Comparing Raines to Brock is not as wacky as you make it out to be.

    The highest OBP Brock had in any season was .377. Raines' career OBP is .385.

    Brock had an OBP over .370 once. Raines did it ten times.

    Brock got caught stealing 15 times or more in twelve different years. Raines only got caught that much three times.

    Brock's career SB success rate was 75%. Raines' was 85%.

    Brock had four seasons where he managed to get on base 250 or more times. Raines had seven.

    Brock had three years with 70 or more stolen bases. Raines had six.

    Yeah, that Raines guy isn't even in Brock's league.

  75. From 1962 to 1979, spanning most of Brock's career, the NL OBP was a little under .320.

    Brock finished with a career OBP of .343, well above average.

    From 1981 to 1999, covering most of Raines' career, the ML OBP was about .330 and Raines was at .385 for his career.

    I'm actually agreeing with #74, just wanted to see what the numbers looked like. Raines also had a significant power advantage over Brock.

  76. I would even go so far as to say that the reason Brock is in the Hall of Fame and Raines isn't is largely because Raines was the better player.

    That's not the only reason - there's also the fact that Raines was a contemporary of Henderson and that Brock did retain his speed and playing time better toward the end of his career, but ultimately the biggest differences between their candidacy are as follows:
    - Brock reached 3000 hits, whereas Raines did not.
    - Brock had the SB record when he retired, whereas Raines did not.

    Now, the two had almost identical batting averages, but Brock reached 3000 hits in part because he didn't walk as much as Raines. If he had had the plate discipline of Raines, he likely would have fallen short the milestone, but would have been a better player.

    Also, the difference between their SB and CS is 130 and 161. Brock was the more aggressive baserunner, but if he could have cut his CS by more than half by stealing about 15% fewer bases, that would have made him a better player, even without the record.

    It's odd to think a player can move from in to out by becoming a better player, but that's largely what we're seeing with Raines as compared to Brock.

  77. Really astute points, WilsonC.

    (For some reason that sounds sarcastic but I don't mean it that way.)

  78. The biggest difference between Raines and Brock is that Raines admitted being coked up half the time he was playing and therefore reduced the integrity of the game (I know Cobb did far more to reduce the integrity of the game but with the current steroid and feel good voters in place, not to mention Cobb is arguably the greatest person to ever play the game...)

    Stats are not the only factor that voters are supposed to use in determining if someone is supposed to be in the Hall, which is probably why Morris, from the 84 team, will probably never get in.

  79. Johnny Twisto Says:

    No, Raines admitted to being coked up for about one season, and I think that has next to nothing to do with his voting results thus far.

  80. Molitor had no trouble getting in, so I doubt the cocaine use has played much of a role for Raines' vote totals.

  81. Johnny, so you know the reason that he hasn't been elected yet? Please, enlighten the rest of us.

  82. We did a Tim Raines poll a while back:

    Although that was before we had so much traffic on this blog, so there wasn't a huge amount of discussion....should I re-post?

  83. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Mikey, don't get sensitive just because you were wrong.

    There isn't *a* reason why he hasn't been elected. And I was obviously proffering an opinion.

  84. Again guys, Raines has been on the ballot for 3 years. Yes, he's had low vote totals that have slowly increased. Lets give it a little time and see where he's at in 3-4 more years. I think Raines will eventually get in. It's not like he's some inner-circle guy that should have went in a in a few years on ballot. He had a great 7 years to start his career and then put up very non-Hall-like numbers for 10+ years. Raines was a better player than Brock, but i don't think Brock was a bad Hall-pick like some continue to push. Brock was also an absolute beast in the playoffs.

  85. The #1 reason Raines is not already in is because he was contemporary with Henderson. To be the second-best leadoff hitter of all time is excellent (definitely Hall worthy) but very unfortunate that you happened to be overshadowed by the #1 guy.

  86. Johnny,

    Not being sensitive, I never said that is why he isn't in the hall, I said it was a big difference between him and Brock. Which is a true statement, so I am not wrong.

    Since you say that you think it has next to nothing to do with why he isn't in the hall you must have a thought on what is keeping him out of the hall. I just want to know what you think you know that the rest of us don't know. You could end this whole debate about Raines and Brock real easy if you would just enlighten us.

  87. Well this seems to be changing into a Rock for the Hall vs. Brock in the Hall. So a quick point.... HRM (Joking) Bill James has felt that Leadoff men get shorted on Awards/Fame. From MVP votes to HOF election. While I am not sure he is 100% correct, I think there is some validity to it. So while Rock is somewhere in there with Henderson, Molitor, and Rose (who if not for his gambling as a manager, they would all be HOF'amers), as one of the top 4 leadoff hitters ever (for my money, Rose or Henderson would be 1 and 2, Molitor or Raines would be 3 and 4). AND this should put Raines in the Hall, it may take a long time for him to get in.

    ON Another note: Somewhere, someone posted that Bill James' thought Sparky cost the Tigers about 20 games per season in the early part of his Tigers career. I can not find the post, either here, or under the Sparky blog that appears a few days later. Was it removed? Can anyone point out where James said this? Thanks.

  88. Johnny Twisto Says:

    You are wrong about his admitting to using cocaine for half his career.

  89. Raines may have been the better player over Brock, but "better player" does not accurately predict who gets in the HOF.

    Black Ink, Gray Ink, Hall of Fame Monitor, and Hall of Fame Standards are better predictors.

    And Brock's numbers slightly exceed the average HOF numbers in two categories and almost make it in one:

    Black Ink Batting - 26 (70), Average HOFer ≈ 27
    Gray Ink Batting - 146 (96), Average HOFer ≈ 144
    Hall of Fame Monitor Batting - 151 (81), Likely HOFer ≈ 100
    Hall of Fame Standards Batting - 43 (131), Average HOFer ≈ 50

    And Raines' numbers do not:

    Black Ink Batting - 20 (106), Average HOFer ≈ 27
    Gray Ink Batting - 114 (180), Average HOFer ≈ 144
    Hall of Fame Monitor Batting - 90 (184), Likely HOFer ≈ 100
    Hall of Fame Standards Batting - 47 (103), Average HOFer ≈ 50

    I think I need to agree with WislonC in #76--Raines is NOT in because he was a "better" player than Brock.

    If he had been more aggressive, he might have had higher Hit and SB totals (and maybe more runs--maybe).

    And higher hits would help Raines--3,000 hits is a dead lock for the HOF, unless you were involved in a scandal.

    Also, Raines played his best years in Canada.

    Brock got more attention than Raines--I clearly remember that it was a big deal when Brock was going for the stolen base record. I don't remember that Raines ever had that kind of attention, except for the coke thing--which was over-blown, I admit (pun intended).

    And Raines might get in yet; maybe. But I wouldn't vote for him if I had a vote. As if that matters (smile).

    I'm starting to think that I'm a small hall guy. And that amazing excellence at one or two things is more hall-worthy than being great as a 5-tool player. And also that league MVP awards are pretty valuable as compared to WS or LC MVP awards, at least as far as getting into the HOF.

  90. So, I kind of doubt anyone's actually reading this anymore, but here's a pretty crude Brock-Raines calculation.
    In Tim Raines' career, he went 5951 bases (TB+BB+SB+HBP).
    In Lou Brock's career, he went 5986 bases. Pretty even, right?
    In Raines' career, he used 6670 outs (available on player pages in Advanced batting, calculated as [AB-H]+CS+GDP+SF+SH), which is .892 bases/out.
    In Brock's career, he used 7823 outs, which is .765 bases/out.
    In other words, although Raines collected virtually the same number of bases in his career (about half a percent less, but that's pretty insignificant), he did it in substantially fewer outs. If Raines had used as many outs as Brock at the same rate at which he collected them in his career, he would have amassed 6980 bases. That's a 16.6% advantage over Brock-- just HUGE! Now, you can argue that the reason Raines had such an advantage was because of offensive context, or that the reason he used so few outs in the first place was because he was injured (and his inability to stay healthy is the reason Brock is better), but I don't agree. So while I agree to an extent with Joseph @ 89, that deservedness for the HOF is not just about being better but rather other circumstances, I can't help but believe that Raines was a significantly better player.

  91. I'm always reading, Dr. Doom.

  92. Me too.

  93. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Dr. Doom, in case you didn't realize it (or for anyone else who doesn't know), that is essentially Total Average, available on the batting pages. Raines's career TA was .886, Brock's .735.

  94. #89,

    During some of those years it was also easier for Brock to accumulate Gray and Black Ink --it was during expansion when there was less teams.

    Would you have voted for Brock?

  95. Andy, one day, I'd love to see a compiled list of the people we've voted in favor of, against, and the margins. It would be cool if we could keep some sort of running tally to see it. I'd be interested.

    I also think it would be fun to re-run Raines, as you suggested. There were 849 votes in the poll, which was more than Trammell inspired, but I can't believe there were only FOURTEEN comments! That's so low... I would imagine that, if you ran Raines again, he would be overwhelmingly accepted again, but I'd be interested to see what people have to say.

  96. When you compare players like Trammell and Whitaker with other shortstops and second basemen who currently reside in the Hall of Fame, how can anyone say that they don't belong? Some folks think that is a lame argument, but I think it is an essential reason why they belong.

    Here's something else--had they both played for the New York Yankees, they'd be in there today. Had they played for any other team that has more respect than the Tigers (and the Tigers are undoubtedly at the bottom of the list), they'd be in there. Let's face it, the fact that they played for the Tigers gets a knee-jerk rejection response as much as any reason given. Because they were Tigers, they get the "they just didn't have HoF numbers." Had they played elsewhere, they would get MUCH more consideration than they've gotten.

    As for why Tim Raines isn't in the HoF, it's pretty much the same reason as to why Trammell and Whitaker aren't--he played for a rotten team (the Montreal Expos). Had he played for good teams, he'd be there, without a doubt.

  97. Johnny Twisto Says:

    had they both played for the New York Yankees, they'd be in there today

    Why? Do we have to list, once again, the numerous Yankees with a borderline case for the HOF who have not been inducted?

    Raines played for a rotten team (the Montreal Expos). Had he played for good teams, he'd be there, without a doubt.

    The Expos were not a rotten team, not even close. I'd say the record of his teams over his career was well over .500. Plus he spent a few seasons with the Yankees -- isn't that supposed to result in automatic induction?

  98. @John in 96.

    I've been thinking about the issue of whether being in the HOF should be a position by position thing. Does playing 2nd base or shortstop make a player hit worse than an outfielder? I can see that maybe a catcher might not hit as well because of the demands of his position. But I'm not so sure about any other position.

    I don't have any basis for my opinion other than my childhood little league games, so it isn't really anything to depend on, but I think it is the other way around, or used to be; that is, players who weren't such good hitters would migrate to positions that the good hitters didn't really want to play. These players would work extra hard to become good in the middle infield positions so that they could get on the team despite their lack of offense.

    Guys like Hornsby and Wagner, they were amazing excellent batters.

    So, I am not sure that a guy who is not up to the caliber of other hitters gets in just because he was better than average as a middle infielder and a batter for a long lot of years.

    But just my opinion.

  99. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Joseph, it's not so much that playing middle infield causes one to hit worse (though it's possible it could, because of all the diving, taking slides at second base, etc), but there is a smaller population of players who are able to play the position. Almost any major leaguer could play first base with a degree of competence. A much smaller subset could play shortstop. An amount of fielding aptitude is assumed just by one playing the position, but there is no statistic to measure this besides games or innings played (WAR attempts to measure this with its positional adjustments).

    If Alan Trammell had played first base, he would have been a decent player, perhaps an occasional All-Star, not a HOF candidate. But if Willie Stargell had played shortstop, well...he couldn't have played shortstop. Why should he get in the HOF when he's not up to the caliber of most other fielders?

  100. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    Joseph -- just about all of the player value metrics include a positional adjustment.

    The rationale is *not* that it is inherently harder to hit at any particular position because of the positional demands (with the exception of catcher, I agree it's somewhat dubious).

    The rationale is simply that it's harder to find good hitting players at some positions than others. Some of this has to do with body builds. It's hard to find people who have great speed *and* power, and you need speed to play CF/short, and power is very helpful for hitting. But mostly, the more critical a defensive position is, the harder it is to find good hitters there -- because you simply aren't allowed to play it unless your defense is up to snuff.

    Think about the shortstop position. Somebody like Jeter is fast and not obviously bad defensively but still gives up a ton of runs due to his limited range. That's because short is hard, and crucial. You don't have to be *bad* to give up a fair number of runs. At another position, he would cost much less. He's barely good enough to play SS defensively, and part of his value is just that -- he can play it, even if fairly poorly by major league standards, while most guys who hit as well as he does would give up enough runs to kill the team trying to play short. And most of the guys who field SS well, are average or worse with the bat.

    The B-R Rpos numbers (one of the components of WAR) measures this directly. They look at how many more or fewer runs a league avarage batter produces, versus the league average of people who play a particular position. Then they credit anybody who plays a given position with that many more or fewer runs. The idea is that GMs and managers in general have a good sense of the appropriate tradeoff of defense for offense (at least better than anybody knows how to measure with stats). So what Rpos does is basically measure the weight that they collectively put on the various positions. If the average SS is OPS 80, while the average 1B is OPS 120, that's a good measure of how much more valuable an average SS is than an average 1B to a typical GM.

    Basically, if Rpos is wrong, then that means the people who build teams and fill out the lineup cards are also wrong in the same way and to the same extent, because that's all it's measuring.

    But IMO, that's a pretty decent measure to use as a first approximation. So WAR contains a way to compare different positions.

    The ones that are tougher are catcher and DH. DH contains a lot of guys coming off injuries and other issues, so on average they are worse than 1B, but it's hard to justify essentially giving a guy fielding credit for DH -- so some kind of extra cut has to be made. B-R has made their decision about how big it should be, but some think it should be bigger.

    Catcher, as you note, is hard in the other direction, as the demands on the position make it very difficult to play a full slate of games in the C, and can affect your ability to hit and run. Most people here think catchers do not need the same level of WAR to make the hall as for other positions for these reasons.

  101. [...] POLL: Alan Trammell and the Hall of Fame (Baseball-Reference). Does the Kearny Mesa HS alum belong in Cooperstown? Hint: Yes. [...]

  102. Not sure if anyone pointed this out, but Ozzie Smith was elected on his first ballot based on defense alone. His career fielding percentage is .978. Trammell's is .976, and .977 at shortstop (he played some 2B, 3B, and OF late in his career). So does that cement it? Tram belongs in the Hall.

  103. @ JL Morris 102

    Ozzie Smith didn't just get into the Hall of Fame for defense alone. He was a great base stealer and he had some pretty decent offensive seasons. His career offensive WAR is 43.0. Pretty darn good. Plus he was a great team leader, a superb role model, and an exemplary character.

  104. @ Sean

    And Trammell's WAR is higher then Ozzie Smith's (oWAR is 59.4 for Trammell). If Smith was a first ballot then Trammel should definitely be in. I am not saying he should have been a first ballot (I don't think Smith was either) but he should be at more then 22.4% after 8 years on the ballot.

  105. That should have read "I don't think Smith should have been either".

  106. I think the point is that when you compare offenses and defenses between Smith and Trammell, they are not so far apart that you get a guy who gets in on his first ballot with over 90% of writers going for one, and the other can't get 30%. It offends me that Alan Trammell isn't worthy of the Hall of Fame to these clowns, but Smith gets more consideration than Joe DiMaggio, Frank Robinson, and Mickey Mantle. Trammell IS HoF-worthy, he's better than a LOT of current HoF members, but he won't get in until he's old and grey, and that is a crying shame.