Dewan: Why not Lou Whitaker for the Hall of Fame?

From SABR member John Dewan at ACTA Sports on December 28, 2017:

A good friend of Stat of the Week, ESPN Chicago radio host Mike Murphy, presented us with a question as to why Lou Whitaker has not been elected to the Hall of Fame when he had better numbers than his recently elected Tigers’ teammate, Alan Trammell. Lou Whitaker hit .276/.363/.426 with 2,369 hits and 244 home runs in 9,967 plate appearances. Trammell hit .285/.352/.415 with 2,365 hits and 185 home runs in 9,376 plate appearances. Whitaker won rookie of the year, was a five-time All-Star, and won three Gold Gloves and four Silver Sluggers. Trammell was a six-time All-Star and won four Gold Gloves and three Silver Sluggers. He was also named World Series MVP in 1984.

Bill James presented his reconfigured Hall of Fame Monitor in The Bill James Handbook 2018 that was released this past November. The system tracks accomplishments that are more common among Hall of Fame players than among non-Hall of Fame players. It doesn’t determine who should be in the Hall of Fame, but rather how each player’s career stacks up when looking at what Hall of Fame voters may consider to be a Hall of Fame career. By using this system, Whitaker has 65 points and Trammell has 70. Generally, if a player has more than 100 points in the Hall of Fame Monitor by the end of his career, he likely will be selected for the Hall of Fame. If he has less than 100, he likely will not. James defines the range of 70 to 130 as a gray area. By this standard, we see that Trammell was at the lowest point of the gray area and Whitaker was just below. Teammate Jack Morris’s recent selection was predicted by the Hall of Fame Monitor with a score of 112.

So, why might it be that Trammell squeaked by in the eyes of the voters whereas Whitaker did not?

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Originally published: December 29, 2017. Last Updated: December 29, 2017.