Monday, January 4, 2016

2016 HoF Ballot: Alan Trammell & aWARds 1987 MVP

In a couple of days the Baseball Hall of Fame will announce the members of the 2016 class. One of the most debated of the candidates is Detroit Tigers Alum Alan Trammell.

1980 Topps Alan Trammell

It is my opinion that Trammell's performance during the final week of the 1987 regular season should have put him in the Hall.

Well in reality his overall career accomplishments should be good enough but more on that later now back to 1987.

The 1987 AL MVP award went to Toronto Blue Jays Left Fielder George Bell. Here I present an argument that today with the emphasis on advanced metrics (notably WAR) the Award would go to Alan Trammell.  

The difference between Bell and Trammell in 1987 was 12 points, which is less than a single first place ballot (14 pts are awarded for a 1st). Both players had very good years. Bell's standout numbers were his league leading 134 RBIs and 369 Total Bases. His 47 Homers were second only to Rookie of the Year Mark McGwire, whom we covered for 2016 HoF Candidates recently. Trammel batted .343 (3rd AL), with a .402 OBP (5th) .953 OPS (6th) and 329 TBs (4th). All good numbers and when coupled with the demand of playing a middle infield position I submit that they are comparable to Bell's.

Voters didn't have the advantage of consulting WAR numbers in 1987, but we do now. The results are not even close. Trammell wins easily 8.2 - 5.0. Baseball-ref has stated that a differences of 1 or 2 wins is not "definitive" - the +3.2 advantage of Trammell beyond this +2.0 margin.

My third argument for Trammel's 1987 MVP award is The Tigers won the AL East while George Bell's Blue Jays finished 2nd. Furthermore Alan Trammell was critical to Detroit overtaking Toronto during the final week of the Season. Following play on September 26th the Blue Jays held a +3.5 Game lead on the Tigers. Detroit had 8 games to play, Toronto 7.

For the balance of the season the Tigers went 6-2 while the Blue Jays failed to win a game.

During the stretch Alan Trammell batted .313/.405/.500 with a Homer, 3 RBI and 4 Runs Scored while George Bell went .111/.250/.111 with no XBH and 1 RBI.

There it is - nearly comparable traditional numbers, WAR numbers that favor Trammell as well as a convincing edge in team accomplishment.

It should be noted that Alan Trammell finished 3rd in AL WAR in 1987. The two players who finished above him were Roger Clemens (+9.4) and Wade Boggs (+8.3) both of the Boston Red Sox  who finished 20 games back of the Tigers. Trammell did pace Boggs in oWAR +8.2 to +7.6

Phungo HoF Verdict - HOF
The missed MVP award may not even matter if one guides their HoF vote via WAR. For his career Alan Trammell had a +70.4 WAR this ranks 11th all time among Shortstops, just below Derek Jeter (+71.8) There are 21 HoF Shortstops with an average WAR of 66.7. Trammell has a +62.4 oWAR ranking 81st among ALL position players. Notables that rank below Trammell include Ernie Banks (+61.8), Eddie Murray (+61.2), and Ryne Sandberg (+59.5).

In additon Alan Trammell checked the Box on a World Championship in 1984 when he was named as the Series MVP.

If he had the Regular Season MVP on his shelf I believe that his Hall of Fame candidacy would not even be in doubt. It is a shame that we didn't have advanced metrics in WAR in 1987, but the BBWAA has the opportunity to right that wrong this week.

Sources and Links
Alan Trammell HOF Index
2016 HoF Candidates
Baseball Hall of Fame

1 comment:

Fuji said...

I loved watch Trammell and Whitaker defend the middle of the infield during the 80's and think it's awesome that he stayed with the Tigers his entire career. If he gets voted in... I'd be okay with it. However... I've always considered him a member of The Hall of Very Good... much like guys like Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Steve Garvey, and Fred McGriff.

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