Did Lou Whitaker’s presence hurt Alan Trammell’s Hall of Fame case?

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Larkin is in, Trammell is not, and likely won’t ever be.  This despite the fact that they were remarkably similar players.  Grant Brisbee takes that up over at SB Nation today and, after doing the standard statistical comparison, he adds a couple of new wrinkles to that now-familiar lament.  The first: Trammell suffered because Cal Ripken was a contemporary and thus keeps him out of the “best shortstop in his league” conversation.

The other one is something I hadn’t thought of before:

Another difference between Larkin and Trammell is that the latter had a sidekick who was also worthy of the Hall of Fame. For just under two decades, Lou Whitaker played along Trammell, making All-Star teams and hitting at a position where most teams shouldn’t have a hitter. The two rode around on tandem bikes and finished each other’s sentences, and there might have been a tendency to pretend that the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. If Trammell played a couple decades with Doug Flynn, maybe he would have stood out more.

Makes sense. And explains why Whitaker got less support than he should have too. Criminally less, given that he fell off the ballot in his first year of eligibility despite stacking up quite nicely with many Hall of Fame second basemen.

Mariners claim Kaleb Cowart off waivers from Angels

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The Mariners announced that the club claimed Kaleb Cowart off waivers from the Angels. Interestingly, the Mariners list Cowart as both an outfielder and a right-handed pitcher. Cowart has never pitched professionally, but the Mariners will try him as a two-way player next season, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. Cowart was a highly regarded pitcher in high school.

Cowart, 26, has played all over the field, spending most of his time at third base and second base, but also logging a handful of innings at first base, shortstop, and left field.  He hasn’t hit much at all, owning a career .177/.241/.293 triple-slash line across 380 plate appearances in the big leagues. It makes sense to try another angle.

Shohei Ohtani, of course, is helping to popularize the rebirth of the two-way player. In his first year in the majors after having played in Japan for five years, Ohtani won the AL Rookie of the Year Award by posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances along with a 3.31 ERA over 10 starts. Don’t expect Cowart to hit those lofty numbers, but additional versatility could prolong his life in the majors.