alan trammell

Alan Trammell: the player the BBWAA seems to forget

2015 marks the 14th time Alan Trammell has been on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s (BBWAA). Lucky for Trammell, he doesn’t fall under the new rules of induction to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Newer players to the ballot have just 10 chances to get into the Hall of Fame.

Having had already over 10 appearances on the ballot Trammell remains under the former rules that a player could stay on the ballot for up to 15 years provided they continued to get at least five percent of the vote. He’ll have one last chance next season, assuming he doesn’t get inducted this year, to win over the BBWAA voters.

It’s really a shame too, that Trammell is almost off of the ballot. The highest percentage of the vote he’s ever received is 36.8 percent.

Arguably one of the top shortstops of his era alongside Cal Ripken Jr., Robin Yount, and Ozzie Smith, all of whom are already in the Hall of Fame, the career Detroit Tiger wasn’t exceptionally great at any specific aspect of the game, he was just really good at every aspect from offense to defense to base-running and game preparation.

MLB.com’s Richard Justice described Trammell’s absence from the hall,

“Perhaps he suffers because, unlike Ozzie Smith, who was perhaps the greatest defensive shortstop of all time, Trammell didn’t do any single thing better than anyone else. Instead, he did everything well…he was one of those players every other was compared to.”

At a time when both Yount and Ripken were also playing shortstop in the American League, Trammell won four Gold Glove Awards. He and his double-play partner Lou Whitaker were the longest continuous double-play combo in baseball history. They played together 19 years and certainly had no issues with defense. Trammell turned 1,307 double plays, seventh most all time for a shortstop.

A six-time All-Star, Trammell was part of the 1984 World Champion Tigers. He went 9-20 with two key home runs that constituted all of the Tigers’ runs in game four. Detroit defeated the San Diego Padres four games to one and Trammell was named MVP of the series. He was clutch.

Injured during the majority of 1985, Trammell came back in ’86 to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases, becoming just the second Tiger in franchise history to accomplish the feat. He set a career high in RBI at 75, only to annhiliate that number drving across thirty more runs finishing the 1987 season with 105.

That same year he put together an 18-game hitting streak that helped his team win the A.L. East by two games. He finished second in the MVP voting that year and in the top ten two more times in his career. Between 1987-1990 Trammell won three Silver Slugger Awards. Trammell could definitely see and hit the ball as well or much better than the average player.

By the time he retired in 1996, after battling knee and ankle injuries over the last five seasons of his career, Trammell had batted over .300 seven of his 20 seasons. His career average is .285, he hit 185 home runs with 1,003 RBIs, 1231 runs scored, 2365 hits, 412 doubles, 55 triples, and 236 stolen bases in 2,293 games played.

Those stats alone make Trammell a viable candidate for the Hall of Fame but when you compare newer statistics like sabermetrics’ Wins Above Replacement (WAR), he stacks up nicely against the rest of the players on the ballot.

With a career WAR of 70.4, Alan Trammell has a higher career WAR than Craig Biggio and John Smoltz, two guys who are very likely going to be in Cooperstown come July. It only makes sense that Trammell should be joining them.

  • I would love to see Tram (and his partner in crime, Sweet Lou), in the HOF, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t make it. His stats are comparable to most SS in the Hall, though. The core of the mid 80’s team should have won more than one WS, though, and that could have pushed some of the individual players more into the spotlight. In all honesty, the HOF doesn’t mean too much to me as a fan anymore. There are already too many players in that imo shouldn’t be there.
    The only thing that bothers me is, why doesn’t the Detroit Tigers take it upon themselves to honor these guys? Do they have to be HOFers to have their numbers retired and a statue constructed? Do you have any idea how popular that would be for Tigers fans? These are players that my generation grew up watching, and it sucks that none of them are represented when visiting Comerica. Yes, it’s cool seeing the likeness of legends like Ty Cobb and Hank Greenburg, but it would also be nice to see some guys I saw play, and have a story or two for my kids that would be at the game with me. And remember, these are CAREER Tigers we’re talking about here, in Tram and Lou. I know it’s just my opinion, but good God, why wait until they’re gone they the Tigers did with Sparky Anderson?
    -Mike

    • Jen Rainwater

      You make good points Mike! I think Trammell should be in and probably Whitaker too! But like you I feel it is unlikely that he’ll get enough of the vote this year or next year. And I agree – it’s weird that the Tigers don’t honor these guys like other teams do! I remember watching Trammell as a kid as well! I’ve seen a lot of HOF over the years with Oakland … really just Rickey and the Eck but I watched McGwire and Canseco – so I’ll have stories for my nephew but I’ve seen a lot of other guys that should be honored as well and never will be like Trammell. It would be smart of the Tigers to honor those guys, it’s a shame they haven’t! 🙁 Thanks as always for your wonderful comments! Hope all is well!
      ~ Jen

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