The Detroit Tigers saw two franchise icons inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday. Sadly, second baseman Lou Whitaker remains on the outside looking in.
Detroit Tigers fans got a much needed win on Sunday. Two of the best players in franchise history, Jack Morris and Alan Trammell, were finally inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Morris and Trammell will be the 21st and 22nd Hall of Famers to play for Detroit, and the first from the 1984 team.
However, the day to celebrate Morris and Trammell’s induction into the Hall has passed. It is time to raise our pitchforks and begin the crusade to see another Tiger legend join them in the Hall.
Lou Whitaker, alongside Alan Trammell, made his MLB debut on September 9, 1977.
Those two spent the next 18 seasons alongside each other, leading the Tigers to one of their most successful decades in franchise history and a World Series trophy in 1984.
The duo played 1,918 games up the middle together, the most in baseball history.
Trammell and Whitaker are synonymous with success in the Motor City. They will forever be linked together in the annals of both baseball and Detroit history.
Alan Trammell finally got his due. It’s Lou’s turn now.
Lou Whitaker and the Hall of Fame
Whitaker’s stats more than speak for themselves.
The left-handed hitter compiled 2,369 hits, smacked 244 home runs, stole 143 bases, hit .276, and walked more times than he struck out. He made five All-Star games, won three Gold Glove awards, four Silver Slugger awards, was the 1978 Rookie of the Year and compiled a ridiculously high 74.9 WAR.
There are six second baseman with a higher career WAR than Whitaker: Rogers Hornsby, Eddie Collins, Nap Lajoie, Joe Morgan, Rod Carew and former Tiger Charlie Gehringer.
What do those six players have in common? A pretty plaque in Cooperstown with their name on it.
More importantly than the six names in front of Whitaker are the 15(!) Hall of Fame second baseman behind him.
Pick any metric and Whitaker measures up to his HOF counterparts. His JAWS score of 56.4 is 13th among second baseman. That ranks in front of Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar, Jackie Robinson, Joe Gordon, Bobby Doerr and Nellie Fox, among others.
Even worse than Whitaker not being in the Hall of Fame is how little support he received.
Trammell and Morris each lasted the maximum 15 years on the ballot. Whitaker appeared on the ballot in 2001 and only received 15 votes, good for 2.9%. Candidates must receive 5% or higher to remain on the ballot, so Whitaker was removed after just one year.
For reference, starting pitcher Dennis Martinez (42.9 WAR, 3.70 ERA) received 16 votes, and center fielder Willie McGee (34 WAR, 2254 hits) received 12 votes.
Whitaker was significantly more deserving and it is a tragedy that his time on the ballot was so short.
Fortunately, there is hope. The Modern Era committee will meet again in 2019 and another 10 candidates will be discussed. Whitaker seems like a prime candidate to be selected for that ballot, especially after the outcry of media support for his candidacy.
With enough media attention, perhaps Whitaker can slip his way onto that ballot and finally get the consideration he deserves.