John Iacono
January 02, 2017

Hall of Fame standards: 66.7 Career WAR / 42.8 Peak WAR / 54.7 JAWS
Trammell: 70.4 Career WAR / 44.6 Peak WAR / 57.5 JAWS

With Trammell on the ballot when I last did this exercise three years ago, I chose Deadball Era stalwart Bill Dahlen (75.2/40.1/57.7, 10th in JAWS), a heady player known more for his fielding, his temper and his carousing than his hitting, though he racked up 2,461 hits with a 110 OPS+ and reeled off a record-setting 42-game hitting streak in 1894. This time around, the choice is for Trammell, who’s an eyelash below Dahlen in the rankings but had the higher peak; he fell off the ballot last year after receiving 40.9% of the vote, the final year of a fruitless 15-year run on the writers’ ballot.

Trammell spent his entire 20-year career (1977 to '96) with the Tigers, taking over their starting shortstop job in 1978 and pairing with second baseman Lou Whitaker for an AL-record 1,918 games together. He made six All-Star teams, won four Gold Gloves and ranked among the league’s top 10 in WAR six times. In 1984 he hit .314/.382/.468 en route to 6.7 WAR (fourth in the league) while helping Detroit to a world championship, and in ’87, he hit a sizzling .343/.402/.551 while setting career highs in homers (27) and WAR (8.2, second in the league) while leading the Tigers to the AL East title. Alas, he was robbed of that year’s MVP award by Toronto outfielder George Bell, Detroit was upended by the 85-win Twins in the ALCS and he generally spent his career in the shadow of Robin Yount and Cal Ripken Jr., both of whom reached 3,000 hits. Trammell’s numbers—including 2,365 hits, 185 homers, and a 110 OPS+—are on par with 2012 Hall of Fame honoree Barry Larkin, who’s two spots behind him in JAWS.

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