If Alan Trammell is elected to the Hall of Fame by the Modern Baseball Era Committee on Sunday, it will end one Cooperstown snub but make another one seem worse. If Trammell gets a plaque, why is his double play partner Lou Whitaker—who had an essentially identical career—shut out not only from induction but from voting consideration altogether?
By the numbers, Whitaker clearly belongs in the Hall, both by traditional statistics—where he ranks among the top 10 Hall of Fame second basemen in career hits, home runs, RBIs, doubles, and runs scored—and advanced stats, where he shines in Wins Above Replacement, JAWS, and Hall Rating. Beyond the raw numbers, Whitaker is etched in our memories for playing the game of baseball with incomparable fluidity and grace.
There is no rational reason to induct Ryne Sandberg in 2005, Roberto Alomar in 2011, and Craig Biggio in 2015, while keeping Whitaker—whose numbers keep pace or surpass them—not only out of the Hall but off the ballot.
So what’s going on? I’ve seen at least eight different explanations.
To be clear up front: none of them are good enough to justify Whitaker’s exclusion, and the sheer number of theories suggests a struggle to explain the inexplicable.
1. Whitaker’s personality and relationship with the media hurt him on the ballot.
Let’s get this one out of the way first, because it may be the most influential despite being the least relevant to Whitaker’s worthiness as a player.