News broke late Sunday afternoon that former Detroit Tigers shortstop Alan Trammell and former Tigers, Minnesota Twins and Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Jack Morris were being elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame as part of the 2018 class.
Trammell spent his entire 20-year MLB career with the Tigers, and was an offensive-minded shortstop during an era where defense carried the position. Make no mistake, he was a terrific defensive player at his peak, but at a time when his AL counterparts were averaging wRC+ figures in the 75-80 range, Trammell was consistently 40-50 points above that mark while doing his part with the leather as well.
Trammell finished his career as a .285/.352/.415 hitter, and ranks 14th among shortstops all-time with 63.7 wins above replacement according to Fangraphs. Trammell also managed the Tigers from 2003-05, and also briefly managed the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2014.
Trammell is currently a special assistant to Tigers general manager Al Avila.
Morris’ candidacy is a bit murkier.
Once inducted, he’ll have the worst ERA (3.90) among MLB Hall of Famers. Adjusted for context, that’s a 105 ERA+, or five percent above league average over that time frame. That’s tied for 495th all-time with such luminaries as Rheal Cormier, Mat Latos, Denny Neagle, Tomo Ohka, Javier Vazquez, Tim Wakefield and Barry Zito.
Morris gets credit for being the “pitcher of the 80s” as he led baseball in wins over that time frame, but that was more due to it being an arbitrary time frame when some great pitchers left midway through the decade and others — like Roger Clemens — did not debut until much later.
By Fangraphs WAR — far from an iron-clad stat, but better than wins — Morris is third-best (36.9) in baseball from 1980-89 behind Nolan Ryan (43.7) and Bert Blyleven (37.7). Morris is also third in strikeouts in the 80s, trailing Ryan and Fernando Valenzuela, who only pitched 17.2 innings in 1980. Valenzuela also tailed off considerably over the final three years of the decade.
Morris gets extra credit for his heroic pitching performance in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series — and it’s for good reason and he tossed 10 shutout innings to seal the win for his hometown Twins. Morris ultimately won four World Series rings — including two with the Blue Jays in 1992 and ’93 — but overall his postseason pitching record is uneven. He was brutal in 1992 in four starts, and that pushed his career ERA in October to 3.80, with a 1.25 WHIP and just so-so 2.0 strikeouts per walks.
Ultimately, narrative ruled the day and Morris is in after 15 arduous years of missing out on the BBWAA vote. Like Blyleven before him, the process is at long last over.
Morris currently works pre- and post-game with the Twins and even does some color commentary when Blyleven takes time off.
Morris and Trammell were both on the 1984 Tigers team that not only won the World Series, but started 9-0 and 35-5 — the best start in MLB history.
Unlike the balloting process that is currently taking place by standing BBWAA members, Trammell and Morris — teammates on Detroit Tigers in the 1970s and 80s including the 1984 World Series team — were selected by the Modern Baseball Era Committee. The committee was previously known as the Veteran’s Committee, and it considers the cases of players and others not elected by the traditional ballot.
This year’s field included 10 men — nine players and Marvin Miller, who served as Executive Director of MLBPA from 1966-82 and is largely considered a key figure in the creation of free agency.
The other players considered were Ted Simmons, Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker and Luis Tiant. Twelve votes were needed for election, with Morris receiving 14, Trammell receiving 13 and Simmons coming up a vote short with 11 (68.8 percent). Miller received seven votes (43.8 percent) and no other man received more than seven.
There is a 16-member Committee that reviews the ballot, and that includes current Hall of Fame members George Brett, Rod Carew, Bobby Cox, Dennis Eckersley, John Schuerholz, Don Sutton, Dave Winfield and Robin Yount. It also includes MLB executives Sandy Alderson, Paul Beeston, Bob Castellini, Bill DeWitt and David Glass as well as MLB historians Bob Elliott, Steve Hirdt and Jayson Stark. Jane Forbes Clark chaired the group, but did not vote.
These inductees and any others announced on Jan 24, 2018 on MLB Network will be inducted into Cooperstown on July 29, 2018.