The Major League Baseball Hall of Fame is trying to make up for the past mistakes of its voters. Its latest poor effort includes a nine player Modern Era ballot consisting of players who fell just short of the Hall of Fame during their years on the ballot.
Long time snubs and former Detroit Tigers Alan Trammell and Jack Morris are two of the nine players on the ballot. Tigers second base legend Lou Whitaker is absent from the ballot despite having a higher career WAR than every single player on the list, including Trammell and Morris.
For years fans have clamored for Tram, Lou and Morris’ entry into the Hall of Fame. Their absence from the Hall is one of the most criminal in the sport. Yet it is more often a complaint these men are not enshrined in baseball’s immortal Hall, rather than their absence from the left-center field wall at Comerica Park.
The Tigers have six statues to the left of the shrubbery in center field. Franchise legends like Ty Cobb, Al Kaline, Hal Newhouser, Hank Greenberg, Charlie Gehringer and Willie Horton are all immortalized within the ballpark. In right-center field, World Series winning manager Sparky Anderson’s No. 11 is retired, though without a statue. He is joined by a series of names of Tigers greats who are honored but whose numbers are not retired. Some names include Sam Crawford, Harry Heilmann, George Kell and longtime broadcaster Ernie Harwell, among others. Absent are Trammell and Whitaker.
If there is a lack of space for a statue in left-center, so be it. But there is plenty of space elsewhere. There is no debating Tram and Lou accomplished enough in their careers to at least be honored by their own team.
Take into account Willie Horton’s numbers. While Horton’s off-field achievements and his ability to help the city of Detroit in a time of need speak for itself, his on-field accomplishments pale in comparison to that of Tram and Lou. Horton is not in the top 25 WAR in Tigers history. He is not in the top ten in the history of the Tigers in batting average, games played, runs scored or runs batted in.
Lou Whitaker would be the undoubted best second baseman in Tigers history if it were not for Charlie Gehringer. Whitaker is fourth all-time in WAR as a Tiger. His defensive WAR is second in team history, behind only his double-play mate Alan Trammell. He played the third-most games in a Tiger uniform, behind legends Al “Mr. Tiger” Kaline and Ty Cobb. He has the sixth-most hits, the fourth-most runs scored and the seventh-most home runs in Tigers history. He is also top ten in team RBI.
Alan Trammell is the best shortstop and likely the best defensive player to ever play for the Tigers. He is fifth all time in WAR for the team. He played in just 30 fewer games than Whitaker, good for fifth-most all time in Tigers history. Trammell is in the top five in stolen bases in Tiger history, along with scoring the sixth-most runs, seventh-most hits ans sixth most doubles.
Their numbers one and three were mostly taken out of circulation unofficially for many years. This was until Gary Sheffield dawned No. 3 in 2007. Their numbers are currently owned by Tigers double-play combination Ian Kinsler and Jose Iglesias.
What the Tigers are waiting on is unclear. One could argue outside of Ty Cobb and Al Kaline, there are no two players who deserve to be honored more than Trammell and Whitaker. Once Kinsler and Iglesias depart from the team, it is time to put those numbers up on the wall and erect the statue of the greatest double-play combination in Detroit Tigers history, Alan Trammel and Lou Whitaker.