A Pivot on My Annual Tradition / HOF’s Sins of Omission

From 1901 through 2000, no team played at least .536 ball in a 10-year span without any Hall of Famers — except these:


  1. Detroit Tigers, 1979-88 — .553 W%
  2. Detroit Tigers, 1978-87 — .551 W%
  3. Detroit Tigers, 1980-89 — .536 W%
  4. Detroit Tigers, 1977-86 — .536 W%

Yes, friends … Another year’s Hall of Fame vote has gone by, so it’s time for my annual “Trammaker” speech. But I’m shifting focus this year.

There were 193 ten-year spans between .535 and .555 in the 20th century. The non-Tigers spans averaged 23 years from Hall of Famers, not counting those who played for more than one team in a season. But no one who played a game for Detroit in that era has been inducted. (In fact, the last HOFer to play even one game for Detroit was Al Kaline, 1974; the last to pitch for them was Jim Bunning, 1963.)

In the best of those listed spans, 1979-88, Detroit’s .553 W% ranked 2nd out of 26 teams. On an annual basis, they were about 90-72, a half-game behind the #1 Yankees, and 3.5 games ahead of #3 Boston. They had a memorable championship year and another division crown, each time with baseball’s best record. They finished 2nd twice — one game out in ’88, and MLB’s 3rd-best record in ’83 — and were 2 games back another year. They were relevant every season; their worst was 83-79.

In the next tier down, from .516 to .535, these 10-year spans had no Hall of Famer:

  1. Toronto Blue Jays, 1981-90* — .535 W%
  2. Detroit Tigers, 1981-90 — .533 W%
  3. Detroit Tigers, 1982-91 — .530 W%
  4. Detroit Tigers, 1976-85 — .528 W%
  5. Detroit Tigers, 1983-92 — .525 W%
  6. Toronto Blue Jays, 1980-89* — .523 W%
  7. Detroit Tigers, 1984-93 — .521 W%

(* Well, the ’87 Blue Jays had Phil Niekro, but only for only 3 games.)

From 1976 through 1993, all nine Detroit 10-year spans had at least a .521 W%, a World Series title, and not a single appearance by a Hall of Famer. In the whole 20th century, no one else had a 10-year span with a winning record and a playoff series victory, without some input by a HOF inductee.

Besides the nine Tigers spans listed so far, the remaining 10-year spans with a winning record and no HOFers:

  1. Blue Jays, 1981-90 — .535 W%, two division titles, lost both playoffs.
  2. Blue Jays, 1980-89 — .523 W%, see above.
  3. Giants, 1991-2000 — .515 W%, two divisions, lost both first-round series.
    (And Barry Bonds would be in the Hall, if not for … Plus, Jeff Kent has only been on the ballot two years.)
  4. Tigers, 1975-84 — .512 W%, one championship.
  5. Pirates, 1987-96 — .507 W%, three divisions, lost all three playoffs. (Plus, Bonds.)
  6. Pirates, 1988-97 — .506 W%, see above.
  7. Tigers, 1985-94 — .504 W%, one division, lost playoffs.
  8. Pirates, 1986-95 — .501 W%, see above.

That covers 20 years for the Tigers, 1975-94 — eleven 10-year spans, each with a winning record and a first-place finish, and no Hall of Famer. Out of 894 winning 10-year spans in the 20th century, just six others had no HOFer. Four of those had at least 5 years of Barry Bonds, and the other two were those ’80s Blue Jays.

For W% between .520 and .555, there are 374 ten-year spans. The only ones blanked by the Hall were those nine of the Tigers (1976-93) and two of the Jays (1980-90). The rest had an average and median of 21 seasons by HOFers.

In the tight range from .550 to .555 W%, there are 46 ten-year spans. Every such span has been Hall-honored, except the Tigers of 1978-87 and ’79-88. All the rest had at least 7 HOF years, except the 1982-91 Blue Jays (one); the non-Tigers average was 24 years by HOFers. Every span in that range had at least two Hall of Famers in some year, except the two Detroit spans (none), and the 1976-85 Royals and ’82-91 Jays (high of one per year).

Even truly bad teams have more feet in the Hall than the Tigers of Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker and Jack Morris. There are 78 sub-.400 ten-year spans, akin to 65-97 or worse in a modern schedule. They averaged 7 years of play by HOFers. The worst 10-year span — the 1936-45 Phillies averaged 51-102, never less than 34 games behind — had nine years of Chuck Klein, and one each by Jimmie Foxx and Lloyd Waner, as regulars.

In fact, pick a team 10-year span at random between 1901-2000. There’s a 97% chance they had at least one Hall of Famer — only 55 of 1,698 didn’t — and an 85% chance they had at least two Hall of Famers in some year. Those with none averaged a .461 W% — except the Tigers during the 20-year span of Trammell and Whitaker, who averaged .523.

Is that just coincidence? An accident of random distribution, and a balanced team that just happened to pull off a successful generation with no truly great players? Or does this team-based approach expose a real oversight?


Through 1996, just two World Series winners had no Hall of Famers:

  1. The ’84 Tigers won 104 games in the regular season and lost once in the postseason.
  2. The ’81 Dodgers had their division’s 2nd-best record, but made the playoffs by the split-season quirk.

The only other pennants with no HOFer were the wartime ’44 Browns and ’45 Cubs, and ’93 Phillies.

Among regulars on those five Hall-denied league champs, here’s everyone with 35+ career WAR — first, position players:

And the pitchers:

The ’84 Tigers had 8 of those 23 players, and 5 of the top 10. Schilling, the WAR leader of this group, hasn’t garnered 40% in three ballots, but has seven tries left. He’ll get in … or I’ll dust off my picketing shoes. I haven’t gone that far yet for Trammell and Whitaker, fearing to seem a provincial Tigers fan, but the joke is starting to wear thin.

Bottom line: The ’84 Tigers were clearly the best World Series or league champ still not blessed by the Hall.


In the 15 years from 1979-93, Detroit won the most games in MLB, a .525 W%. (Their .528 pythagorean W% also was best.) Next in wins were the Yankees, with 25 regular years by 7 different HOFers; then the Expos (16 regular years from 3 HOFers), and the Blue Jays (5 regular years by 3 HOFers, plus two cameos).

Someone wearing the Old English “D” won a lot of games in that era. And that’s really what WAR is about: attributing wins on the field to individual players.

Here are Detroit’s WAR leaders for 1979-93 — first, position players:

1 Alan Trammell 68.4 42.7 59.6 20.7 116 3033 1979 1993 1919 8051 1094 2054 172 902 748 .290 .357 .428 .785 *6/HD587
2 Lou Whitaker 67.2 39.2 59.5 14.5 117 3182 1979 1993 2064 8706 1207 2053 215 937 1060 .274 .362 .425 .788 *4H/D
3 Chet Lemon 30.6 15.5 24.5 5.0 117 1779 1982 1990 1203 4676 570 1071 142 536 468 .263 .349 .437 .786 *89/HD
4 Lance Parrish 28.4 14.5 24.2 9.8 116 1864 1979 1986 1049 4319 530 1051 195 652 318 .267 .322 .473 .795 *2/DH397
5 Kirk Gibson 25.0 11.8 25.5 -4.1 126 1719 1979 1993 1009 4126 590 990 163 561 424 .274 .353 .476 .829 98D7/H
6 Tony Phillips 20.5 11.5 17.4 2.9 118 908 1990 1993 608 2782 411 648 42 248 424 .281 .392 .393 .785 457/9D86H
7 Travis Fryman 15.4 7.7 15.4 2.5 116 927 1990 1993 527 2279 282 570 72 311 179 .277 .337 .451 .788 *65/HD
8 Darrell Evans 14.5 5.5 10.8 -1.1 121 1056 1984 1988 727 2809 357 559 141 405 437 .238 .357 .450 .806 *3D/H5
9 Cecil Fielder 13.6 4.2 15.1 -5.6 135 1197 1990 1993 630 2733 366 620 160 506 331 .262 .354 .506 .861 *3D/H
10 Mickey Tettleton 13.3 6.7 14.4 -0.3 136 749 1991 1993 463 1899 246 385 95 282 332 .249 .379 .484 .863 *2/D39H7
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used / Generated 1/17/2015.

And then pitchers:

1 Jack Morris 36.9 11.4 109 3.71 2891.0 194 144 1979 1990 24-35 395 395 153 24 0 .574 0
2 Dan Petry 17.4 1.1 105 3.84 1843.0 119 93 1979 1991 20-32 306 274 48 10 8 .561 0
3 Frank Tanana 13.2 -0.7 99 4.08 1551.1 96 82 1985 1992 31-38 250 243 27 7 5 .539 1
4 Mike Henneman 11.2 4.4 135 3.00 605.2 56 30 1987 1993 25-31 432 0 0 0 320 .651 128
5 Aurelio Lopez 9.5 2.2 119 3.41 713.0 53 30 1979 1985 30-36 355 4 0 0 245 .639 85
6 Milt Wilcox 8.7 -1.7 102 3.96 1173.2 78 61 1979 1985 29-35 185 180 46 5 2 .561 0
7 Willie Hernandez 8.5 3.9 135 2.98 483.2 36 31 1984 1989 29-34 358 0 0 0 279 .537 120
8 Walt Terrell 7.7 -4.0 96 4.26 1328.0 79 76 1985 1992 27-34 216 190 44 9 9 .510 0
9 Doyle Alexander 6.4 1.6 100 3.91 540.1 29 29 1987 1989 36-38 78 78 13 5 0 .500 0
10 Dave Rozema 5.4 0.3 113 3.57 579.2 33 27 1979 1984 22-27 152 72 9 4 45 .550 10
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used / Generated 1/17/2015.


Now, you could explain Detroit’s success without anointing anyone, if there was a parade of stars in short stints with the club. But Trammell and Whitaker account for Detroit’s top five WAR years in that span (6.7+ WAR), and almost half their top 40 (4.1+ WAR):

  • 10 by Whitaker
  • 9 by Trammell
  • 4 by Tony Phillips
  • 3 by Kirk Gibson
  • 2 by Chet Lemon
  • 2 by Darrell Evans
  • 2 by Lance Parrish
  • 2 by Mickey Tettleton
  • 2 by Travis Fryman
  • 1 each by Steve Kemp, Cecil Fielder, Chad Kreuter and Milt Cuyler

On the pitching side, Morris had four of their top five years (4.9+ WAR), and half their top 10 (4.0+ WAR) — Morris 5, Dan Petry 2, one each for Doyle Alexander (in a third of a season) and the relievers Willie Hernandez and Aurelio Lopez.

Those clubs never had a superstar — Hernandez won their only major awards, in one fluky season — and no other big stars. No one who played for Detroit in the ’80s survived two years on the Hall of Fame ballot or cracked 6% of a vote, except Trammell and Morris. Trammell has yet to reap 40% of a ballot, trending downward with just one year left.


Team records help expose some silly Hall selections. Take the Braves of 1922-31. (Please.) They averaged 60-94, with no winning years, and high marks of 5th place and 22 games behind. Yet they had 15 years of regular play from five Hall of Famers, not counting a brief Burleigh Grimes stopover and a Johnny Evers cameo. Okay, Rogers Hornsby had one great year. But the rest … Dave Bancroft averaged a decent 2.6 WAR and 111 games over 4 years (age 33-36). His successor, Rabbit Maranville, averaged 1.5 WAR in 144 games for 3 years (37-39). George Sisler’s last 3 years averaged 0.7 WAR in 136 games (35-37). And Rube Marquard’s last 4 years averaged 0.6 WAR in 136 IP, and totaled a 25-39 record and 89 ERA+ (age 35-38).

Those four marginal HOFers obviously weren’t in their prime during that span. But there are countless examples in the same vein.

Bill James once wrote:

“It has become common to bash the selection of Tinker, Evers and Chance to the Hall of Fame. [T]his is perilously near an absurd argument, to wit: [They] were not really great ballplayers, they merely happened to win a huge number of games. The definition of a great ballplayer is a ballplayer who helps his team to win a lot of games.”

No one’s comparing the Tigers of 1979-88 (.553 W%) to the Cubs of 1903-12, whose .648 W% marks the best 10-year span in modern history. But the big leagues were far more stratified in that era. Two contemporary NL powers, Christy Mathewson’s Giants and Honus Wagner’s Pirates, also had 10-year spans at .634+ centered in the Aughts, both among the modern top 12. The Cubs won four pennants in their span, but their other six years averaged 10 games behind the Giants or Pirates.

More on point, those great Cubs teams have been honored with four Hall of Famers. The “trio of Bearcubs,” plus Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown, gave that 10-year span a total of 39 HOF seasons. Tinker, Chance and Evers ranked 6th, 8th and 11th in total WAR for 1903-12, but miles behind the top three of Wagner, Lajoie and Cobb. Brown joined the Cubs in 1904, and ranks 5th in pitching WAR for 1904-13.

From 1979-88, in a much bigger and more competitive MLB, Trammell and Whitaker ranked 8th and 16th in player WAR, and Morris 2nd in pitcher WAR. Stretch the span to 15 years, 1979-93, you get Trammell 5th, Whitaker 6th, while the Tigers won more games than anyone. Everyone else in that top 10 is enshrined.

Is it not absurd to suggest that this keystone combo were not really great players, they just happened to win a great many games? They anchored a 10-year run that rivals the best spans in Detroit history:

  • The Tigers of 1907-16 had a .560 W%, three pennants (but no championship), behind 10 years each of Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford, plus one full year of Harry Heilmann. Adjusting for eras, Trammaker’s .553 is at least as impressive as Cobb’s .560.
  • Detroit’s third-best span, .552 from 1932-41, featured 28 years by Hall of Fame position players — 10 by Gehringer, 9 by Greenberg (7 full), 4 by Goslin, 4 by Cochrane (2 full), 2 by Averill, and one fine year by Al Simmons. They won three pennants, one championship.
  • The next-best Tigers span from a different era is .550 from 1961-70. Not as HOF-saturated, this stretch still had 10 years of Al Kaline and 3 prime years of Jim Bunning. Similar in some ways to the Trammaker era, those Tigers had one championship and one near-miss at the pennant. Kaline, who breezed into the Hall on the first ballot, totaled 49.3 WAR in that span, just below Trammell’s 49.6 for 1979-88.

It would be easy to go too far with that line of reasoning, so let’s sum up the first points and move on:

  • The ’80s-era Tigers are easily the best team of the 20th century with no Hall of Fame representation.
  • The ’84 Tigers are the best such championship team.

Again, the 1979-88 Tigers played at .553, which is just under 90 wins in a full slate — 3 wins more than the next-best team span with no HOFer, besides adjacent Detroit spans.


They have three legitimate HOF candidates. Morris had the best ballot luck, peaking near 68% in 2013, but his tries at the front door are over. He has perhaps the best old-school credentials, but was shunned by the sabermetric bloc (with whom I agree).

Trammell and Whitaker are slam-dunks to most of the advanced-stats brigade — both stand miles above the Hall of Stats threshold, and rank 11th at their positions by JAWS (and both scales include a peak component) — but also to those old-style thinkers who dare to view counting stats in the context of era, position, and team success.

Even ignoring modern value gauges, there are many Hall of Fame middle infielders with worse credentials (career or peak) than Trammell and Whitaker, if you take their batting stats with a grain of contextual salt. What put Rabbit Maranville, Luis Aparicio, Nellie Fox or Red Schoendienst in the Hall, except longevity and team success?

Yet here’s Trammell, 10th in career games at SS (7th when he retired), and Whitaker 4th at 2B (retired #3). For the whole modern era through 2000, both rank in the top 25 middle infielders in:

  • Hits (nos. 17-18)
  • Extra-base hits (10, 14)
  • Total bases (11, 15)
  • Runs (10, 23)
  • RBI (18, 21)

All this was in spite of a neutral offensive era, unlike many HOFers with inflated batting stats from the 1920s-30s and the steroids era. Among MIFs still not enshrined for stats compiled through 2000, Trammaker are #1-2 in hits, XBH and TB, #1 and 5 in runs, #3-4 in RBI.

Against stiff competition, they totaled 7 Gold Gloves and 9 All-Star nods, all from 1980-90. Among MIFs in the ’80s, they were #1-2 in hits and runs, #2-3 in total bases, #2 and 4 in RBI.

They batted #1-2 throughout Detroit’s march to the ’84 championship, with Trammell named Series MVP (.450 BA/1.300 OPS, with 6 RBI and 5 runs in 5 games). Trammell hit cleanup throughout their ’87 division title year, batting .343-28-105 to join Rogers Hornsby in the .340-20-100 club for middle infielders — the first to do that at SS, or to add 20 steals to that mix. (Since joined by Hanley Ramirez.) He just missed the MVP that year in a very close vote that laughed in the face of his and George Bell‘s stretch-run performance. (Bell hit .111 with one RBI as Toronto lost their last 7 games to blow the crown, while Tram hit .417/1.167 in September.)

Trammell and Whitaker have the historic distinction of more games played together than any other teammates, far more years and games than any other 2B/SS tandem — almost 500 games more than the #2 pair. Yet instead of raising their profile, that constant conjunction seems to have blurred their identities and hurt both their chances.

The negative argument goes thus: “They’re so similar that you can’t have just one in the Hall. And if both were so great, why did they win just one title?”

Gee, I dunno … Why didn’t Robin Yount and Paul Molitor win any titles in 15 years together? Or Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio in their 7 years? Why didn’t Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese win a Series in their five years as keystone mates — the best 5-year WAR stretch of any tandem — or more than one in their 10 years as teammates? How come Evers and Tinker plus Chance and Brown only won it all twice? Why no 1906 pennant for Nap Lajoie (10.0 WAR) and Terry Turner (9.4), the only tandem that both topped 7 WAR? Why no pennants at all for Lajoie?

One Series crown was the limit for Rogers Hornsby (with 4 HOF teammates contributing), Lou Boudreau (also 4), Pee Wee Reese (3), Charlie Gehringer (3), Travis Jackson (3), Aparicio (3), Honus Wagner (2), Cal Ripken (2), Joe Sewell (2), Ozzie Smith (with Bruce Sutter), Rabbit Maranville (with Evers), and Barry Larkin. (By my reckoning, only Larkin won a Series with no HOF help.)

No WS titles at all for Lajoie, Yount, Ryne Sandberg, Arky Vaughan, Joe Cronin, Billy Herman, Fox, Luke Appling, Bobby Doerr or Ernie Banks.

Winning more than one World Series is the exception for HOF middle infielders. I may have missed someone, but I count 11 middle infielders in the Hall now with two rings or more — less than a third of the Hall of Fame MIFs whose careers were centered in the WS era. Phil Rizzuto won 7 (his pipeline to induction), Joe Gordon and Tony Lazzeri 5 each (Derek Jeter will join them), Eddie Collins and Frankie Frisch 4, Evers 3, and 2 each for Tinker, Dave Bancroft, Joe Morgan, Roberto Alomar and Red Schoendienst. (Bill Mazeroski won 2 rings, but he sat the bench in ’71.)

If failing to win twice is a black mark on a Hall of Fame SS or 2B, Trammell and Whitaker would have plenty of company.


So, at last, these team-based and player-centric trains of thought meet at this point:

  • There is virtually no precedent for excluding a SS or 2B with such counting stats — and none at all for Hall-snubbing such a successful 10-year team span, or such a great champion.

What is wrong with this picture? Can you make sense of it?


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69 Comments on "A Pivot on My Annual Tradition / HOF’s Sins of Omission"

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Jack (the Jack) Morris will end all of this heartache over no Hall of Fame representation for the Tigers of 1979-1993 come 2017.

Voomo Zanzibar
That’s pretty much a sewn up winning argument right there. I’d print it out and mail it to the Veterans Committee. _________________ About the ’81 Dodgers, you listed their Regulars above 35 WAR above. Here’s a list of everyone on their roster above 25. This is a lot of very good careers. 64.5 … Reggie Smith 53.5 … Ron Cey 43.5 … Bob Welch 42.2 … Davey Lopes 37.7 … Steve Garvey 37.4 … Fernando Valenzuela 36.9 … Dusty Baker 36.6 … Burt Hooten 34.3 … Pedro Guerrero 33.1 … Jerry Reuss 33.1 … Rick Monday 31.2 … Bill Russell… Read more »

“Print it out and mail it” being the operative words. I can’t remember where I read this now, but apparently one Hall of Fame voter asked for someone to send him some player stats through the post, and on being informed of the existence of Baseball-Reference.com, claimed it would be easier if he had the piece of paper in front of him.

David P
Interesting analysis John. But I see a few issues. 1) No distinction between HOFers elected by the BBWAA and those elected by the Veteran’s committee. This matters for a few reasons. One is the obvious fact that Trammell is still on the BBWAA ballot which means he’s only been rejected by one of the two election methods (and Morris just fell of last year). Do some of those “Tiger like” teams only have Veteran’s committee HOFers? That’s worth knowing. Related to this is that there’s no control for how long after retirement someone was elected to the HOF. For example,… Read more »
Paul E
David P. et al: Years ago Bill James came up with his Hall of Fame monitor and various other data which appear to be the basis for HoF SELECTION. B-Ref lists this on the main player page in 4 categories including black ink and gray ink…. Whitaker does not exceed the “quota” in any of the four categories; Trammell in only 1 of the 4 (Hall of Fame Monitor score of 118 ranks 122nd – score of 100 is good enough). Perhaps this is the answer to the mystery? The BBWAA is not even giving a sniff to WAR –… Read more »

You are correct John. I first read about this Dodgers infield back in the 1970’s, Baseball Digest.


Great memories as a Yankee fan winning in 77 and 78.

Bad memories in 81.

The strike.

Yankees lose in six games, after winning the first two. A reversal of the 78 Series.

Big Stein gets into it in an elevator.

A real brouhaha.

Mike L
John A, an interesting way of looking at it, but at the risk of irritating an already justifiably irritated tigres fan, I think the argument is largely circular. Those Tigers teams had a lot of good players, but they didn’t necessarily have great ones, save Trammaker. What you are really saying is that because the Tigers were so consistently successful, an injustice has been done institutionally–they effectively “deserve” a HOFamer (or two) and I don’t see that as compelling. It may have been that Tiger management was foreshadowing some of the techniques used by lower revenue teams now, such as… Read more »
Jeff Harris

I sure hope the Veteran’s Committee rights the wrong for Sweet Lou. 6th highest hallofstats rating all-time, 2nd only to Morgan post-WWII.

And he also had no peak. Over his best 7 year period he averaged 4.7 WAR. My nyear averaging method set to 25 gives him a 4.63 score. For a middle infielder that’s pretty good but it’s not Joe Morgan’s 6.83 by any stretch. I’m not sure what position you want to call Rod Carew (5.71) but he was a much better player than Whitaker. Bobby Grich over 7 years averaged 5.7 WAR (he was even better over an 8 year peak) per season and crushes whitaker with a 5.15 score. I don’t know why we picked Whitaker in the… Read more »

Not that any of that would apply to Trammel. He shouldn’t need the help. I have him above any HOF borderline players I can think of at 5.06. Over 7 years, and like Grich he did even better over 8, he averaged 5.8 WAR.

Maybe they just remember him losing as a manager too recently and it jaded his reputation as a fielder. I really don’t understand that one.

Michael Sullivan

Trammel hit the HOF ballot after Jeter, Arod and Nomar were putting up crazy numbers from the 6 slot. 1/2 the writers have no appreciation for context (Trammell playing during a much lower offensive time), or the fact that those big numbers were being hit by two slam-dunk HOFers, and a guy who would have been a third if he’d kept it up.

But that’s it, that’s why he’s not already in. Until the late 90s, I think most people thought of Trammell as a future HOFer. I certainly did.

Richard Chester

Great piece of research John. For that alone you deserve a vote for the COG.

Speaking of the Circle of Greats, happily no lack of love for those Trammaker Tigers there. There were 25 seasons, a quarter-century, in the four-division era — 1969 through 1993. Over that period, the Tigers are represented by 155.1 worth of WAR, a bit of Kaline’s career, plus almost all of Trammell’s and Whitaker’s. Only five franchises are currently represented by more WAR in the COG over that four-division period: –Orioles (best W-L record in the majors in the four-division era, 238 COG WAR for the period, covering the Robinsons and Palmer, Mussina and Ripken) –Reds (second-best W-L record in… Read more »
I do remember some statistic about every WS team having at least one Hall of Famer, which was broken by the 1981 Dodgers, who admittedly won during the odd strike season. Some of them were extremely small contributions (like the 88 Dodgers with Sutton), but still, it’s true of all pre-96 teams besides the 81 Dodgers and 84 Tigers. I don’t need to write anything more about the HoF cases of Trammell and Whitaker; John has done a tremendous job, and I think almost all of us consider them to be HoF snubs. Looking at more modern teams that will… Read more »

“03 Marlins: Miggy should be a slam dunk. I assume Pudge 2.0 will also make it.”

Those two would also break the Tigers’ jinx.

Michael Sullivan

“Rollins will have his supporters, too.”

I assume you mean Rolen.

I support Rolen, and I was wondering why you didn’t mention him, then I realized.


No, I meant Rollins, who I wouldn’t let within 1,000 feet of Cooperstown without a ticket, but he’ll have some ardent backers.

Completely forgot about Rolen, who might very well represent the 06 Cardinals eventually along with Pujols in the Hall of Fame.


Good reminder. Chase Utley, another second basemen who was clearly better than Whitaker.

It’s still amazing to me that Beltran is not on that list somewhere but he never did seem to get on a winner, did he? Sigh.

Jeff B

How would Papi make it if Edgar is struggling to? Also, i dont know if any of the tigers truly deserve induction, but i also dont know how Larkin is superior to Trammell.


I don’t think Ortiz is a Hall of Famer, but he has the rings/post-season heroics/curse-breaking/etc. The writers might let him in because of that, though the dissonance between honoring Ortiz’s postseason numbers and ignoring Schilling’s would be galling.


Trammell and Morris should be in the HOF, and probably Whitaker. Ron Santo, Leo Durocher, and Bill Veeck all had to die before they go in. We could talk all night about snubs (& who shouldn’t be in but are, no names mentioned (Highpockets Kelly)) starting with Gil Hodges.


I remember Reggie Smith as a pretty good player, but I had no idea that he was a 60+ WAR player. He must be one of the more underrated players of all time, as I’ve never known him to get any HoF support at all.

no statistician but
The Yankees had nine HOFers on their roster each year from 1930 to 1933. For the last three of those years six of their starters in the field and three of the starting rotation were HOFers. They only won one pennant. I don’t know what that proves, exactly, but it indicates that winning pennants and having HOF personnel aren’t equivalent. If there’s a problem with those Tiger teams it’s that only one player season—Trammell’s in 1987—really stands out, unless you count Fielder’s 51 home runs. The 1984 banner year? Parrish, Whitaker, Trammell, Lemon, Gibson—that was a team effort, requiring a… Read more »
nsb, to be fair to those Yankees teams, they were all very good. Some were great and lost out to teams that were just better (like the 1931 squad, who finished behind a 107-win Athletics team also packed full of Hall of Fame talent). The 1930 team had an insane offense even for a year known for its insane offense (both Ruth and Gehrig topped 200 OPS+ years), but their 4 HoF pitchers didn’t give them very much, and one of them was Waite Hoyt, who only pitched 47 innings for them (he got traded to the Tigers mid-season). The… Read more »
John — I think it is very difficult to make sense of the exclusion of either of the two Detroit middle infielders ; even taking the HOF to be a record of fame, not merit, for in their time they were widely regarded as the best double play combination in baseball , perhaps ever, and the trio of bearcubs was often evoked in news stories about them; the only thing i can think is that they were famous in an unemotional, detached sort of way; “we acknowledge that these guys are really good ” not “wow- did you see that?… Read more »
David P
After giving this a lot of thought, here’s what I think: 1) Regardless of their overall record, no one thinks of those Tigers’ teams as great teams. They weren’t the `72-74 A’s, they weren’t the Big Red Machine, they weren’t the ’76-78 Yankees. They played in and won a grand total of one World Series. When I think of the 80’s, I think of parity and inconsistency and the Tigers are part of that. 2) While it’s interesting that most World Series winners have a HOFer, I’m not sure what that tells us. For one thing, most of those World… Read more »
Dr. Doom
I think the most important point is actually #3, particularly in regards to Trammell. Look at the period of 1982-1984. That should’ve been the prime of Trammell’s career – ages 24-26. (Yes, I know most people think it’s around age 27, but if anything, more modern research shows that, particularly as a hitter, the peak is earlier.) Each of three different teams wins the AL East (and the AL Pennant) in those three years. And each is anchored by a different SS. In 1982, the Brewers win the AL East. Robin Yount leads the team with probably the greatest season… Read more »
David P
Thanks for your thoughts Doom! I just think it’s really hard for these two because there’s no simple narrative to explain why they should be in the Hall. And you’re obviously right: “3rd Best Shortstop in His Division” isn’t going to cut it. At least with Raines you can say “Second best leadoff man ever” or perhaps “Best Percentage Base Stealer”. Those messages resonate with voters. But when you have to write 1,000 word blog posts to explain why someone deserves to be in the Hall, you’re going to lost most of your audience. And it’s not just Trammell and… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar

Absolutely agree on Grich/Nettles/Randolph/Lofton.
But Utley?
His counting stats may fall short, I suppose.
And no Gold Gloves despite the numbers.

But his Postseason story is epic. And he’s not playing in the shadow of any great Second Basemen.

He came into the league in 2003.
Here’s 2B leaders since 1993, ten years before his debut:

61.5 … Utley
53.5 … Kent
51.5 … Cano
50.7 … Biggio
43.5 … Alomar


Yeah, Utley’s only two real contemporaries are Cano and Pedroia. Cano’s prime started in earnest right when Utley’s was ending, and Pedroia is in many ways a mini-Utley. He does many of the same things well (baserunning, defense, extra-base power, on-base skills), just not quite as well as Chase.

David P

I love me some Utley but the voters decided that Howard (and for one year Rollins) was the engine that powered the Phillies machine. I think that will hurt him a lot.

And he may not make 2,000 hits. Not sure the BBWAA has ever elected anyone under that threshold (catchers excepted).

Postseason? Let’s ask Curt Schilling how much voters care about post season success.

Paul E
Dr. Doom: Hey, brother – don’t forget Cleveland’s Julio Cesar Franco – Phil Rizzuto loved him some Julio back in the early ’80s. All great points but, Mickey, Willie, and the Duke played in the same city at the same time 1951 – 1957 at the same position and Snider still made it to Cooperstown despite being the least talented of the three. I once asked a friend if “so and so” was a Hall of Famer and his reply was, “Obviously not, if you have to ask”. Perhaps Trammel gets in if he would have received a well-deserved MVP… Read more »
David, I think you make a lot of good points. Regarding almost every WS team having a HoF’er, I agree that it likely doesn’t tell us much. It’s pretty much just a fluke of history. Early on, when you had 16 teams and leagues largely marked by little parity (clear demarcations between ‘first division’ and ‘second division’ teams), you expect the winning teams to have a few Hall of Famers, especially the dynasties. Some teams managed to win with a lot of good players and had one HoF’er squeak in through the back door, like the 1940 Reds and Lombardi.… Read more »
Utley’s case should be relatively compelling (flat-out best at his position by quite a bit for a 7 year period), but I suppose he has some of those “undervalued” skills. His defense is universally acknowledged as good, but he never won a Gold Glove. His baserunning is tremendous (best SB% ever among guys with over 100 SB’s, heck, even among guys with over 50 SB’s), but he doesn’t steal a ton of bases, simply a modest amount at a stupendous rate, and he’s a good baserunner in other ways as well (taking extra bases, scoring on extra-base hits). But he… Read more »
Lawrence Azrin
@29, It’s not as if Trammell/Whitaker weren’t considered serious HOF candidates when they were active – I remember back in the late 80s/early 90s, a number of people commented on how similar their career stats were, and oh wouldn’t it be adorable if they were inducted into the HOF together, in the same year… It’s hard to pinpoint precisely when they went from serious to less-than-serious HOF candidates. At least Trammell has stayed on the HOF ballot 14 years and drawn decent support. It is _by far_ the bigger travesty that Whitaker got a total of 15 votes (23 less… Read more »
Richard Chester

Make what you want out of this but Whitaker had the highest OPS+ (134) of all 2B in his last 5 years in the ML (2000 min. PA, retired players only).

David P

#48 Lawrence – I’m sure there were people who talked about Trammell and Whitaker as future HOFers. But the same is true of lots of players who never make it or come close. Steve Garvey for example.

And how many of the 500+ voters were talking about them as future HOFers? Because ultimately that’s what matters.

Lawrence Azrin


There was a fair amount of talk in the mainstream sports press of Trammell/Whitaker as future HOFers (and possibly being inducted together). Then again, as you say, there was similar talk about Steve Garvey, Don Mattingly and Dale Murphy, amongst others.

David P
I went back to 1980 and looked at every position player elected to the HOF by the BBWAA. That’s 38 players in all. Every single one has at least one of the following, with most having more than one. .300+ batting average 400+ homeruns 1,500+ RBIs 3,000+ hits MVP 10+ All star games Now I’m not suggesting that those are the only criteria that voters consider. Or that they consider them in exactly this manner. But if you don’t have at least one of them, then your chances of getting in via the BBWAA are zero. In fact the last… Read more »
Lawrence Azrin


Most impressive – kind of like a condensed version of Bill James’ “HOF Monitor Index” for modern players.

Paul E

David P;

And, ditto for Bobby Grich.

Great research -this is what they’re looking for.

Hey, as we suspected, it’s not the Hall of War 🙁

Hey, David — great find! What I find interesting is you didn’t need Gold Gloves at all as one of the criteria. The “10 All-Star Games” captures the guys in mainly for their gloves and also the catchers: Ozzie: A-S games Aparicio: A-S games Brooks: MVP, A-S games Fisk: A-S games Carter: A-S games Bench: MVP, A-S games It also helps explain why that glut of third basemen between 60-75 WAR didn’t make the cut, including Ron Santo despite his eventual Golden-Era Committee selction. Ken Boyer’s MVP in ’64 is the only achievement that registers. Bell: 5 A-S gms, no… Read more »

Edit on Beltre: and of course 3000 hits is within Adrian’s reach also.

That would certainly clinch his HOF selection, I think, although the 97% probability spit out by Favorite Toy is preposterously high. 97% is 32 out of 33. You’re telling me if you run a projection 33 times for the rest of Beltre’s career that he will pass 3000 hits 32 times? Ummm, no.

David P
Thanks for the comments Lawrence, Bstar and others. I kind of made this up as I went along so it’s possible that’s there’s a more elegant set of criteria. And if it weren’t for Rice and Perez you could eliminate the MVP and RBI categories. Now obviously these aren’t the only things that voters look at. Defense, for example, obviously factored in for Smith and Robinson and perhaps others. And stolen bases for Henderson. Etc. In some ways I’d say it’s the opposite of James’ HOF Monitor Index. James was trying to predict who would get elected. This is more… Read more »

Well Chipper Jones has 4, Griffey 4, interesting set of HOF markers