The Modern Era committee announced their 2019 Hall of Fame selections Sunday evening, and the Detroit Tigers and their fans have reason to be upset. Longtime Tigers great Lou Whitaker didn’t really come close, as the committee selected former MLBPA union head Marvin Miller and catcher Ted Simmons to be enshrined in Cooperstown.
The news is surprising as Whitaker’s candidacy is well justified by his career numbers, and the selection of former teammates Jack Morris and Alan Trammell two years ago lent renewed momentum to the cause. Whitaker has a ring, a Rookie of the Year award, and more career WAR earned than any other player on the ballot by a fairly wide margin.
The Tigers longtime keystone will now have to wait three years until the committee reconvenes.
Whitaker earned just six votes, whereas 12 votes were required to earn election from the 16 member committee which covers the timeframe 1970-1987. Simmons received 13 votes, while Miller came in on the cusp with 12. Dwight Evans received eight votes, while Dave Parker earned seven. Whitaker and Steve Garvey checked in with six votes while no other candidate had more than three.
This is incredibly frustrating because Whitaker is arguably more worthy than Trammell, let alone Morris, who likewise was never quite regarded as the dominant player at their respective positions. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) famously dropped Whitaker off the ballot in his first year of eligibility and it’s only been through a renewed appreciation for the total value of his game that Whitaker’s candidacy gained steam. Trammell himself has been his former double play partner’s loudest public advocate, but while Whitaker earned enough votes here to appear on the 2022 ballot, this lackluster vote total is a concern for his long term chances.
Suffice it to say that reactions to this news were not positive, though it was good to see both Simmons and Miller selected.
It's possible to draw a line in which Whitaker doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, but if you do, then there are only four 2B Hall of Famers: Hornsby, Morgan, Lajoie, Collins.— Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski) December 9, 2019
Whitaker, as many Tigers fans are well aware, was worth 75.1 rWAR in his career, seventh most all-time for a second baseman. Every player at the position with more rWAR is in the Hall of Fame already, as are a whole host of second basemen who were worth less. The five time All-Star won four Silver Slugger awards and three Gold Gloves as well.
Lou Whitaker — 75.1 rWAR— Max Wildstein (@MaxWildstein) December 9, 2019
Derek Jeter — 72.4 rWAR
Derek Jeter is about to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer... possibly unanimous.
The fact Lou Whitaker still isn’t in the Hall of Fame is an embarrassment.