The Detroit Media Is Lazy On Alan Trammell

The First Essential Scary Truth

At 3pm EST, Barry Larkin received the news he would be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  A well deserved honor for a shortstop who toiled in near obscurity in Cincinnati for 19 years.  According to a Sports article, “Larkin hit .295 with 198 home runs, 960 RBIs, 2,340 hits and 379 stolen bases. A 12-time All-Star, he won the 1995 NL MVP award, nine Silver Slugger trophies and three Gold Gloves. He helped the Reds win the 1990 World Series and in 1996 became the first shortstop to have 30 homers and 30 steals in a season.”

Larkin was the only player inducted by the Baseball Writers and he will join the late Ron Santo (voted in by the Veteran’s Committee) on a late July day in Cooperstown, New York to receive his plaque and ticket to baseball immortality.

Per usual, the men who didn’t receive votes cause as much conversation as the man the writer’s elected.  Jack Morris, who pitched for the Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins and Toronto Blue Jays, has the most wins of any pitcher in 1980’s and a lifetime ERA of 3.90, saw his total percentage of votes climb to

66.7% (75% is needed for election).  Likewise, Houston Astros slugger Jeff Bagwell saw his percentage climb to 56.0%.  In a curious development former Detroit Tiger shortstop Alan Trammell saw his percentage climb to 36.8%.  Curious not because Trammell doesn’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame – he does – but because he didn’t get in this year.

Here are the stats for Trammell, a shortstop who played 20 years with the Detroit Tigers: 2,365 hits, 412 doubles, 185 home runs, 236 stolen bases, and a .285/.352/.415 line.  If you think you’ve seen numbers like this before you’re right: they are virtually the same as this years inductee Barry Larkin.  Why Alan Trammell has had to scratch and claw to get near 40% in his 11 years on the Writer’s ballot (every candidate has 15 years on this ballot before removal with his Hall of Fame fate now resting in the hands of the Veteran’s Committee) while Larkin gets in after three years is a mystery.

Famed St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa has recently begun to shill for Alan as well as such noted baseball writers as Chris Miller, Jeff Sackman, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi.  However, the Detroit media has been curiously silent on the candidacy of the hometown hero.  Outside of Detroit News columnist Lynn Henning, there has been a wall of silence when it comes Alan Trammell.  Was it because of the Lions resurgence?  Perhaps another stellar Red Wing season or more issues with the city and its finances are to blame.

Actually, I believe the proper answer is sloth.

(From the Detroit Free Press written by columnist Michael Rosenberg)

One e-mail went out to Hall of Fame voters last month, before ballots had been mailed. It came from the Cincinnati Reds. Subject: Barry Larkin. It made the Hall of Fame case for Larkin, the former Reds (and U-M) shortstop. It included a two-page attachment detailing how Larkin stacks up against the best shortstops of all time.

Another e-mail arrived after the ballots went out. It came from the Seattle Mariners. Subject: Edgar Martinez HOF Candidate. Attached: a comprehensive six-page pitch for Martinez, the former designated hitter.

And from the Tigers, in support of Alan Trammell and Jack Morris … nothing.

Tigers vice president for communications Ron Colangelo said the Hall of Fame decision ultimately is up to the voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, and that “we would hope the voters would vote both guys in.” He also said a campaign is “certainly something to consider.”

Colangelo has been with the Tigers since 2008. The Tigers’ failure to campaign for Morris and Trammell (and Lou Whitaker, who has since dropped off the ballot) precedes him. And I think it is an oversight, not an intentional slight.

But I hope somebody considers it. Morris and Trammell are in the Hall of Fame gray area — good enough to be considered, but not obvious inductees. They need advocates.

I’m not sold on Morris’ case. But I am sold on Trammell’s. He was one of the best shortstops ever — a terrific fielder with a bat that would make a first baseman proud.

However, I don’t think Trammell is a no-brainer Hall of Famer. He hit only 185 home runs — a lot for a shortstop in his era, but a number that doesn’t stand out today. He fell far short of 3,000 hits, one of the milestones that allows candidates to skip the line and go right into the Hall of Fame.

If he had won the 1987 AL MVP award, more would consider him a Hall of Famer. (Trammell lost to Toronto outfielder George Bell in one of the worst MVP decisions of the past 30 years.)

When Trammell first hit the ballot in 2001, he got 15.7% of the vote. Last year, he was up to 24.3%. But he is a long way from the 75% needed for induction.

Trammell needs people to make his case. It’s an easy case to make. Trammell clearly was a more valuable player than fellow shortstop Ozzie Smith, who got elected on his first try. His numbers for his 13-year peak (.291 batting average, .359 on-base percentage, .433 slugging percentage) are comparable to Cal Ripken Jr.’s best 13-year stretch (.278 BA, .347 OBP, .456 SLG).

And let’s compare Trammell to Larkin, who probably will get elected this year. Career numbers: Trammell — .285 batting average, .352 on-base percentage, .415 slugging percentage. Larkin — .295 BA, .371 OBP, .444 SLG.

They were very similar players. It’s almost eerie: Trammell finished with 2,365 hits, 185 home runs and 1,003 RBIs; Larkin had 2,340, 198 and 960.

I won’t make the case for Trammell ahead of Larkin. (I don’t have a vote, but I

think both should get in.) I just don’t understand why Larkin probably will go in on the first ballot while most voters ignore Trammell.

Somebody should adopt this cause. I nominate Tram’s old team.

Although I agree Trammell and the Tigers should be more aggressive in getting the message about Tram’s Hall of Fame stats and career, it also takes the town’s sports writers to be pushing as well not passing the buck to the next guy, especially if that writer has a bully pulpit on Fox – like Rosenberg.

Mike, the ancients have a category for laziness, sloth they called it – one of the seven deadly sins.



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