Maybe it's the inclusion of former Reds shortstop Barry Larkin on the Baseball Writers Association of America's Hall of Fame ballot for the first time forcing voters to look closer at his contemporary. Maybe it's the past efforts of statistically-minded baseball writers putting forth solid arguments. Maybe the voters are finally coming to their senses.
Whatever the reason, former Tigers shortstop (and manager) Alan Trammell has had a lot of support among national writers this year.
A sampling of some recent opinions comes after the jump:
FoxSports.com Jon Paul Morosi writes Trammell and Larkin
are uncannily similar players – judging by their
comparable batting records, their two postseason appearances apiece, their one world title apiece, their one MVP-caliber season apiece, their single-team careers with the Tigers andReds, their similar Gold Glove collections (Trammell four, Larkin three).
His colleague, Tracy Ringolsby, agrees:
It’s a travesty that not only has Trammell been denied induction the last eight years, but he hasn’t even been named on 20 percent of the ballots cast. He was the heart and soul of the Tigers of the '80s. He didn’t’ do back flips, but he won four AL Gold Gloves and was a middle-of-the-lineup run producer who was a six-time All-Star who shouldn’t be penalized for playing at the same time that Cal Ripken, Jr., was dominating the position in the AL.
As does Ken Rosenthal, who wrote of his enthusiastic vote for Trammell.
Trammell was one of the top shortstops in the American League for nearly his entire career, second only to Ripken for much of it.
Meanwhile, CBSSports' Scott Miller can't make up his mind, writing Larkin should be in. But after Trammell. Who'll never make it at this rate, he concludes. ... Especially since Miller can't commit to voting for Trammell, despite making a decent argument for him.
Those numbers by the way? As provided by Miller:
Trammell had a .285 batting average, .352 on-base percentage, .767 OPS, 185 homers and 1,003 RBI in 2,293 games over 20 seasons.
Larkin batted .295 with a.371 on-base percentage, .815 OPS, 198 homers and 960 RBI in 2,180 games over 19 seasons.
Miller even points out the Baseball-Reference pages for Trammell and Larkin list the other as being the "most similar" batter even. Larkin does have a bit of advantage when it comes to OPS+ (116 vs. 110).
Yet Trammell got 17.4 percent of the writers to vote for him last ballot.
As far as batting numbers go, the electric fielder and Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, who played in the same era as both Larkin and Trammell, is not comparable to either player (OPS+ of 87). But his Gold Glove fielding and 15 All-Star Game appearances made up for that.
Ironman and Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. has an OPS+ of 112, but two MVP seasons and appearances in 18 consecutive all-star games.
I've never fully been on board the Trammell for Hall campaign myself. In my mind, there's always been a bit of difference between the Hall of Very Good Ballplayer and Hall of Fame. I am content to find one ballplayer per position per "generation," put them in the Hall and call it good. I guess I'm for the "small hall," you would say. (SI writer Joe Posnanski explored this thought recently on his blog.)
But I've changed my mind as well this year. My feelings about the size of Hall do not matter. If the voters are going to put Larkin in on the first ballot, they really must put Trammell in the Hall as well.
I doubt that will happen this year. Or likely, any year. I suspect it will be up to the veterans committee in the end.