Trammell Misses HoF, Reminding Us That the System Is Garbage

Major League Baseball announced their Hall of Fame Class of 2016 on Wednesday, with Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza making the grade. There are some in the media who are talking about which three voters left Griffey off their ballots, ensuring once again that no one has ever been a unanimous choice. But while I find that irksome and indefensible, the thing that really grinds my gears is that Alan Trammell once again fell well short of the 75 percent threshold for Hall of Fame induction.

That was his 15th and final time on the ballot, meaning his fate is now in the hands of the Expansion Era Committee, but his name won’t come up for consideration by them until 2020.

As a point of fact, the 2016 vote produced Trammell’s highest percentage ever, at 40.9, but that means that somehow almost 60 percent of BBWAA’s voters still think Trammell doesn’t belong in the Hall. How is this even possible and what does it say about the Hall of Fame voting system and the baseball knowledge of the 440 BBWAA members who cast ballots for this year’s Hall of Fame class?

In short, it says that this is possible because the system is broken and the BBWAA members are idiots motivated by things other than what constitutes a great baseball player when they cast their votes.

I’ve ranted about this before, but this bears repeating: Alan Trammell was unequivocally one of the top 15 shortstops in MLB history.

Trammell’s career slashline of .285/.352/.415/.767 is excellent for a shortstop: his .285 career batting average is 33rd best of all time among shortstops with at least 1,000 games played; his .767 OPS is 31st. His 2,365 career hits are 17th most among shortstops. His .977 career fielding percentage was the 24th highest ever.

Along the way, Trammell won four Gold Glove Awards, four Silver Slugger awards, was the runner up for the AL MVP in 1987 and won the World Series MVP in 1984. His career post-season performance was almost Michael Jordan-esque, posting a .333/.404/.588/.992 slashline in October.

His career Wins Above Replacement was 70.4, 11th best among shortstops and 93rd best among all players in MLB history. His Defensive WAR of 22.0 is 33rd best among all players in MLB history and 22nd best among shortstops. Trammell’s WAR7—his WAR for the peak seven years of his career—is 44.6, the eighth best among shortstops.

Trammell’s JAWS score, Jay Jaffe’s rating system that evaluate’s a player’s Hall of Fame worthiness, is 57.5. Shortstops with JAWS scores lower than Trammell include the following Hall of Famers: Barry Larkin, Bobby Wallace, Lou Boudreau, Joe Cronin, Pee Wee Reese, Joe Sewell, Luis Aparicio, Joe Tinker, Dave Bankroft, Hughie Jennings, Travis Jackson, Phil Rizzuto, Rabbit Maranville, John Ward, George Wright, and Leo Durocher. There are in fact about 50 percent more Hall of Fame shortstops below Trammell in the JAWS list than there are above him (nine).

You know who else has a lower JAWS score than Trammell? Derek Jeter. Jeter retired with a 57.0 on the JAWS scale. And if I were one to bet on such things, I’d say Jeter is the most likely player in the next decade to become the first-ever unanimous electee to the Hall of Fame.

Am I saying that Trammell was better than Jeter based on one metric? No. But I am saying that they are in the same conversation; that if Jeter is a can’t miss Hall of Famer, Trammell should be as well. The only real difference between the two is that one played his entire career for the Detroit Tigers and the other played his entire career for the New York Yankees—statistically, their performance was very similar.

I’m not claiming Alan Trammell was the best shortstop of all time and I don’t think anyone is. But he was indisputedly as good or better than a dozen or more current Hall of Famers, including recent inductees like Barry Larkin and soon-to-be inductees like Derek Jeter. I’m not arguing a marginal case here: Trammell should have been elected to the Hall of Fame years ago and should not be stuck on the outside looking in, as he is now.

The voting process is clearly too subjective, which opens it wide to bad choices based on opinion, conjecture, and politics. I mean seriously, two professional baseball writers thought David Eckstein was worthy of a Hall of Fame vote? I liked Eckstein’s moxie, but there’s no way on Earth he deserved a vote that could have been better spent on the glut of legitimate candidates on the ballot right now.

Bluntly, I find it disgusting that members of the BBWAA could consistently get this wrong for 15 straight years. They seem so hyper-focussed on punishing players from the Steroid Era that they’ve forgotten that they have an actual job to do when filling out this ballot and that job is to honestly and fairly judge which players have earned the right to get their name enshrined in MLB’s most sacred shrine.

In my humble opinion, the fact that Trammell has been denied membership in the Hall of Fame indicates that the voting system needs major, sweeping revisions to require more objective evaluation of players’ merits. It also suggests that close to 300 members of the BBWAA should be fired for incompetence.

 

Follow me on Twitter @calgaryjimbo

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