The Modern Era Committee failed to vote Detroit Tigers legend Lou Whitaker into the Hall of Fame on Sunday, and along with that decision came some strong opinions from members of both the media and the team’s fanbase.
While the two players who did manage to get the nod were very worthy of their accolade, many have been left wondering why someone with the statistical support that Sweet Lou had would pick up only half of the votes necessary for election into the hallowed halls of Cooperstown.
Lou Whitaker received six votes from the 16-member Modern Baseball Era committee. Twelve votes were needed for induction.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) December 9, 2019
Social media was set ablaze when the results were announced, with many stunned and outraged fans taking to Twitter to voice their outrage. There were others who fanned those fires with poorly-constructed arguments against Whitaker’s induction.
To say the least, I did not handle the news well.
So Lou Whitaker has been denied the Hall of Fame. AGAIN.— Adam Dubbin (@AdamDubbin) December 9, 2019
I hereby submit my resignation from being a fan of MLB. I will never step foot in Cooperstown, and given how the Tigers have been running business, I'm not sure why I even do this anymore.
Our own Jay Markle calmly pointed out that Whitaker’s career WAR value exceeds that of Derek Jeter, who is projected to be a first-ballot selection when he appears on the ballot in 2020. While WAR is not a perfect statistic, it is a robust enough measuring stick for this purpose.
Lou Whittaker had a higher career WAR than Derek Jeter, who will almost assuredly be inducted this year, his first in the ballot.— Jay Markle (@jaymarkle_byb) November 18, 2019
Several much more respected sports minds also did not see the logic in the outcome. Although there are no objections to the two who did garner enough votes — Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller — there was a great deal of confusion on why Whitaker was so significantly snubbed. For instance, Dave Parker, who had a fine career but was never the caliber of player that Sweet Lou was, had more votes (7).
I have no disagreement with the selections made by the Hall Of Fame Modern Era Committee, to be very clear.— Emily Waldon (@EmilyCWaldon) December 9, 2019
To deny Lou Whitaker was wrong. Really wrong.
Jay Jaffe of JAWS fame (not the movie, the Hall of Fame statistic) was not feeling the decision either, though he saw the bright side of resurrecting neglected one-and-dones from the past for reconsideration.
I'm bummed Lou Whitaker didn't get in — like Ted Simmons, I featured him in The Cooperstown Casebook. But the election of Simmons, knocked off BBWAA ballot by 5% rule in his 1st year of eligibility, 7 years before Whitaker, sets a precedent that gives hope to one-and-dones— Jay Jaffe (@jay_jaffe) December 9, 2019
Anthony Fenech echoed the sentiment of many of the above tweets, though he went a bit further to suggest that inductee Marvin Miller was more worthy of the honor than the popular second baseman.
Only nine players in Major League history have accrued as many Wins Above Replacement as Whitaker's 75.1 and not received election to the Hall of Fame, according to Baseball-Reference. He should be in - but not before former Players' Association director Marvin Miller.— anthony fenech (@anthonyfenech) December 9, 2019
Dan Szymborski, renown numbers-cruncher and creator of ZiPS, also felt similarly and pointed out that Whitaker received the same number of votes as Steve Garvey — another player who had a fine career, but not at the level of of Sweet Lou.
Even though they inducted two deserving players, the fact that as only as many thought Lou Whitaker was a Hall of Famer as thought Steve Garvey does not reflect well on the electorate.— Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski) December 9, 2019
Szymborski goes on to draw a line in the sand in regards to who at his position are more worthy. The four names he gave are those of legends, while his comment also suggests that Whitaker was probably better than Detroit’s own Charlie Gehringer as far as all-time second-sackers, which he expounds upon further down the Twitter thread.
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
Tony Paul makes a suggestion that really should have been done a decade or two ago, but there is no better time than the present to make up for lost time. Retiring Whitaker’s number would be a monumental gesture towards the Tigers legend and would acquiesce to the desires of the fanbase. At a time when fans have been souring on the franchise during the “rebuild”, this would be a great opportunity to actually rebuild some emotional capital with those loyal to the Old English D.
It's time for the @tigers to make a statement here and retire Lou Whitaker's number anyway.— Tony Paul (@TonyPaul1984) December 9, 2019
Not doing so accepts this HOF screwjob.
Former site editor Kurt Mensching, along with Tigers fan Paul Sebastian Ozz, also agree.
Correct. Both Lou’s #1 & Tram’s #3 should’ve been retired years ago. It’s a bad choice to require the validation of outsiders in order for those two players’ importance to the franchise’s history (and the generation of fans that watched them play) to be acknowledged & recognized.— Paul Sebastian Ozz (@P_Sebastian_Ozz) December 9, 2019
On the bright side (if there is one), Whitaker will be up for consideration again in 2023, which figures to be when the team becomes competitive again. Detroit Tigers Minor League Tracker takes the glass-half-full approach and prophecises that his next turn on the ballot will be during better days. We can only hope.