Tigers by the Numbers is my weekly(ish) feature where I will profile a current or former Tiger that wore each uniform number. This project was inspired by my quest to find jerseys for each of my sons corresponding to their age. This being the third installment, today we present number three.
To recap, in case you have missed the first two, Lou Whitaker opened my list, followed by Charlie Gehringer. Though I did consider throwing you all a curve and using Gary Sutherland (2B 1974-1976) here, I will instead offer perhaps the most predictable entry to this list; Alan Trammell.
No. 3 Alan Trammell played shortstop for 20 seasons for the Detroit Tigers. He teamed with second baseman Lou Whitaker to form the longest running double-play combination in major league history.
Drafted in the second round of the 1976 amateur draft, Trammell made a quick rise through the minors, playing only 196 games prior to his debut. He was named the MVP of the Southern League in 1977.
On September 9, 1977 Detroit fans got their first glimpse of what they would watch for the next 19 seasons. In the second game of a double header against Boston, Trammell played shortstop, along side Whitaker, who also made his debut in that game. Trammell batted ninth and went 2 for 3 while scoring a run.
In 1978, Trammell took over as the everyday shortstop for the Tigers and finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting, ironically, behind Whitaker, who won the award. Two seasons later, Trammell was selected to his first All-Star game, he hit .300 for the first time and won his first gold glove.
As the young Tigers continued to improve in the early 80s, so did Trammell. Following a disappointing 1982 season, he was named the Comeback Player of the Year in 1983, when he hit .319 with an .856 OPS.
1984 came in with a bang as the Tigers raced out to a 35-5 record to start the year. By the time the dust had settled in October, the Tigers had won the World Series over the San Diego Padres. Although most will recall Kirk Gibson’s home runs, it was Trammell that took home the series MVP, as he posted a .450 average with two home runs and six RBI.
The next time Trammell played in the post-season would be his last. In 1987, the Tigers battled the Toronto Blue Jays to the final day of the season before earning the divisional crown. Trammell had his best season that year, finishing second to Toronto’s George Bell for the league MVP, he batted .343 with a career high 28 home runs and 105 RBI on the season.
Unfortunately, Trammell’s successes did not carry over to the playoffs, as he had just a .488 OPS as the Tigers were bounced by the Minnesota Twins in the ALCS.Injuries began to take their toll on Trammell in the early 1990s, costing him much of the 1991 and almost all of the 1992 seasons. During that time, a young infielder named Travis Fryman took over at short. When Trammell finally returned to full-time duty, his job was in jeopardy.Beginning with the 1993 season, Trammell never again played more than 63 games in one season at shortstop. Over his final four years, he saw action at third base, at all three outfield spots, and even played 11 games at second following the retirement of Whitaker.
By the time Trammell hung up the spikes in 1996, only Ty Cobb and Al Kaline had played more seasons in the Old English D. But perhaps no one was more beloved.
Seven years after his playing days ended, Trammell returned to Detroit as the team’s manager. The organization was in the midst of an overhaul, and bringing back Trammell, along with adding Kirk Gibson and Lance Parrish to the coaching staff, was in part designed to bring fans to the games.
In his first year, the Tigers were historically bad, finishing with a 43-119 record. The worst season in American League history. Although the team improved dramatically over the next season and a half, a poor finish to the 2005 season lead to speculation that Trammell had lost his team. He was fired one day after the final game of that year.
Trammell has yet to receive much in the way of support for his Hall of Fame candidacy, with his highest totals coming this year, at just 18 percent of the vote. By all rights however, he had a Hall of Fame career.
His 2365 career hits places him seventh on the all-time Tiger hit list, it would the ninth highest total for a shortstop in the Hall of Fame. His 185 home runs would place him fourth among Hall of Famers, and his 1003 RBI would be ninth.
Trammell was a six time all-star. He won three Gold Gloves and four Silver Slugger awards. He hit better than .300 seven times and finished in the MVP voting seven times, three times in the top ten.