Baseball season is more than a month away with spring training beginning in mid-February, but it has been on my mind quite a bit the last week or so.
Normally, that would be because of the snow on the ground or the 20 degree temperatures. Baseball always brings thoughts of warmth and sunshine.
Right now, baseball has been on my mind because Monday is the announcement of who will join former Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo in the 2012 National Baseball Hall of Fame.
The consensus from most baseball “experts” is that long time Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin will be that person. Former Detroit Tigers pitcher Jack Morris is considered a long shot.
Larkin, in his third year on the ballot, received 62.1 percent (75 percent is needed) of the vote last year (up from 51.6 in 2010). Morris, in his 13th year on the ballot, received 53.5 percent last year. They were third and fourth in voting last year behind inductees Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven.
I have no problem with either of those two getting into the hall of fame. Larkin was a 12-time all-star while Morris was the winningest pitcher of the 80s and one of the best postseason performers ever.
My gripe is the complete overlooking of former Tigers shortstop Alan Trammell. Trammell, in his 11th year on the ballot, received his highest percentage ever with a meager 24.3 percent in 2011. Trammell was one of the best shortstops of his era and all-time. His stats stack up with the current hall of fame shortstops and this year’s expected nominee Larkin.
I’m not just saying this because Trammell is my favorite player of all time. As a kid, he was the player I wanted to be. I’ve spent a fair amount of time researching numbers and it has only reassured my belief that Trammell deserves a spot in Cooperstown.
Here are some comparisons of Trammell’s stats with the 21 current hall of fame shortstops. Of the 21, only three have played (Robin Yount, Cal Ripken Jr. and Ozzie Smith) in my lifetime:
Only Ernie Banks (512), Ripken Jr. (431) and Yount (251) have hit more than Trammell’s 185 career home runs.
Trammell has a higher career batting average (.285) than 11 others and is tied with Yount. That includes Banks, Ripken Jr. and Smith.
Only three shortstops have had more than 3,000 hits (Honus Wagner, Ripken Jr. and Yount). Trammell’s 2,365 is more than 12 others.
Trammell has more RBIs (1,003) than 12 others and more runs (1,231) than nine others, but is within 100 runs of another five players.
Now in comparison to this year’s golden boy, Larkin, Trammell matches up as well.
In 19 years, Larkin hit .295, had 2,340 hits, 198 home runs, 960 RBIs and scored 1,329 times. In addition, doubles, triples, on base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS are all very close.
While Larkin made 12 all-stars, Trammell made six, but was behind Cal Ripken Jr. for many of those years. After Smith retired, Larkin had to compete with the likes of Edgar Renteria, Jay Bell and Jeff Blauser.
Larkin won the 1994 MVP while Trammell should have won the 1987 MVP. He did earn the 1984 World Series MVP.
Trammell won four Gold Gloves and three Silver Sluggers. Larkin won three Gold Gloves, but won nine Silver Sluggers. Smith was nowhere near the offensive force Ripken Jr. was.
With that being said, I feel Trammell is just as deserving as Larkin and many others already in Cooperstown.
Maybe missing out on the ESPN golden age hurt Trammell’s chances. Maybe it’s because his numbers don’t look as high as recent/current shortstops like Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Hanley Ramirez and Miguel Tejada.
It was a different game in the ‘80s and early ‘90s.
I don’t expect to see Trammell’s name called Monday. I only hope to see an increase in votes. Too bad, Trammell’s hall of fame nomination may very well have to go the way of Santo and have be voted in by the Veterans Committee.