Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Keltner List: Alan Trammell

Next up it's Alan Trammell, a great shortstop and one of my favorite players as a kid.

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball?

Trammell was regarded as an excellent shortstop, but not the best player in baseball. He was one of those players that did everything pretty well, so he was lost in the rush to look at one item that was done at a level above everyone else.

2. Was he the best player on his team?

If not, it was usually between he and Kirk Gibson, as both had the capacity for .300 seasons with 20 HR and 20 SB. I will give the edge to Trammell as he was a shortstop.  Trammell is one of the best Tigers of all time, and certainly the best shortstop in franchise history, beating out Donnie Bush easily.

3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?

Trammell suffers as a direct contemporary to Ozzie Smith and Cal Ripken. Trammell is in the middle of this argument, not quite the defensive player that Smith was and not quite the offensive player that Ripken was. None of these players were as good as Barry Larkin (yes, I even think Larkin was better than Ripken). Ripken was underrated defensively, as was Trammell. Robin Yount is also in that talk. I would not peg him as the best shortstop in the game over his career, but in individual seasons he most certainly was (1987, 1984). Within his league, it was down to between he, Ripken and Yount. He was always in the discussion.

4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

Trammell was MVP of the 1984 World Series, and played very well against the Royals during the ALCS.

In 1987, Trammell slashed .417/.490/.677 in September and October as the Tigers took the AL East by two games over Toronto. For the year, he hit .340 against the Jays. The Tigers won 6 of their last nine games to overcome a 2.5 game deficit; Trammell posted an OPS of 1.087, scoring 6 runs with six extra base hits in those nine games. On October 3rd, Trammell singled home Jim Walewander in the bottom of the 12th to win the game for the Tigers and put them in a 1 game lead over Toronto with 1 game remaining. The next day, Frank Tanana threw a shutout and Larry Herndon provided the offense in a 1-0 Tigers win. The next year, Trammell was injured in September and not his usual self.

5. Was he good enough to contribute past his prime?

Trammell was beset by injuries in his later years, playing in 100 games only twice after he turned 32. The broken ankle he suffered in 1992 left him a different player.

6. Is he the best player in history not in the hall of fame?

No, but he is closer to Bonds than most.

7. Are most players with similar statistics in the Hall of Fame?

According to James' formulation, only two players are "truly similar" to Trammell: Edgar Renteria and Barry Larkin. Larkin is in the Hall and Renteria is not yet eligible. Of those players "similar" to Trammell, Larkin and Ryne Sandberg are in the Hall of Fame. Five of the players in Trammell's list are shortstops, and I would rate Larkin slightly above Trammell. Longtime double play partner Lou Whitaker is 5th on Trammell's list, right behind Jimmy Rollins.

8. Do the players number meet hall of fame standards?

Trammell scores a 40 on the hall of fame standards and a 118 on the hall monitor. These are middle of the road figures. Compare his peak years to other shortstops, and Trammell is ahead of Larkin, Lou Boudreau, Bobby Wallace, Joe Sewell and Pee Wee Reese according to JAWS. In total WAR, Trammell ranks 11th all time at shortstop, with all but two (Alex Rodriguez and Bill Dahlen) in the Hall of Fame.

9. Is there evidence to suggest he was much better or worse than his statistics?

In 1987, Trammell hit cleanup for the Tigers and produced his best offensive season. Trammell was an odd bird, as the "offensive" shortstops of the 1980s were large men. Trammell was 6'0 and listed at 165. Ripken was 4 inches taller and outweighed Trammell by 35 pounds. When Trammell first reached the majors his defense was below average; by the mid-80s he was an above average shortstop. He and Whitaker, along with Gibson, formed the core of a Tigers team that posted 11 consecutive winning seasons.

10. Is he the best player eligible who has not been inducted?


11. How many MVP type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP Award? If not, how often did he come close?

Trammell never won an MVP award, but finished 2nd in 1987. Trammell finished 21 points behind George Bell of the Blue Jays, which was a questionable vote. I would have gone with Trammell. He finished in the top ten in voting two other times (1988 and 1984).

12. How many all star type seasons did he have? How many All Star teams did he play for? Did most other players selected to that many All Star games get elected to the Hall of Fame?

Trammell made six all star teams, suffering as a direct contemporary to Cal Ripken. Being in competition with an all time great, however, has its place. Take Trammell's 1986 season: (.277/.347/.469) with an OPS of 120. 21 HR , 269 Total Bases....and he is not on the all star team. Trammell was worthy in 1986 and 1993 but was not selected.

13.If this man was the best player on his team, could his team win the pennant?
Pre 1992 ankle injury, absolutely. A shortstop with 20 HR power and good speed? Sign me up.

14. What impact did the player have on baseball history?

Whitaker and Trammell spent their entire careers with one team, which had become exceedingly rare by the time they had reached the majors in the late 1970s. Whitaker and Trammell are the longest serving double play combination in major league history. Trammell was also credited to an extent by Jim Leyland for providing professional guidance and example which bore fruit in the Tigers 2006 championship run.

15. Did the player uphold the standards of the Hall of Fame?

As far as I know.

I would not hesitate to vote for Trammell for the Hall. I would rank him ahead of Phil Rizzuto, Hughie Jennings and Joe Tinker, to name a few. Trammell suffers in comparison to Ozzie Smith and Cal Ripken, two of the most deserving hall of famers at his position. In this sense, he is not unlike Tim Raines. A great player, one of the very best at his position over the last 50 years, who is overshadowed by someone even better than he. If you look at Trammell's peak WAR, he is 8th all time among shortstops. At his peak, Trammell was one of the ten best in baseball history at his position, and was damn good for a while besides.

No comments:

Post a Comment