And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Royals 2, Brewers 1: Luis Mendoza took a no-hitter into the seventh, but it was still close as prodigal Royal Zack Greinke was pretty sharp too, striking out eight and allowing one run over seven innings. Billy Butler’s RBI single in the eighth was the difference.

White Sox 6, Cardinals 1: Paul Konerko is batting .373. And he’s still, like, 300,000 votes behind Prince Fielder for the All-Star Game. One day he’s gonna be dead and we’re gonna treat him like we treated Whitney Houston and Levon Helm Donna Summer and all of those others who died recently: we’re gonna pretend we always recognized his greatness when, in the moment, most of us truly didn’t.

Yankees 6, Braves 4: If you get up 4-0 on CC Sabathia after seven innings and you have a bullpen like the Braves do, you can normally expect to win the game. But nope, not last night. Jonny Venters has been a weak link this year (he’s got a 7.04 ERA and a .382 opposition average in his last 20 appearances) and gave up a grand slam to Alex Rodriguez, after which Cory Gearrin gave up a two-run job to Nick Swisher. The slam was A-Rod’s 23rd, tying Lou Gehrig’s record. I expect someone today will write a column in a New York tabloid about how A-Rod doesn’t deserve to hold the record or some noise like that.

Reds 7, Indians 1: It’s the BATTLE OF OHIO!  Winner gets to leave, I suppose.  Anyway, Johnny Cueto went the distance, allowing only one run on six hits. Joey Votto’s ridiculously good season continues with a two-run homer.

Cubs 4, Tigers 3: Know what was fun? Before the season how if you suggested that Detroit’s defense was lacking and how, in response, Tigers people on the Internet would get all up in your face about it, saying how that’s all overblown and how easy and lazy a storyline that was to be peddling. Well, sorry, it’s true. Last night the Tigers were undone by defense once again as the Cubs scored the winning run by virtue of not one but two Jhonny Peralta throwing errors in the eighth inning. Some easy, lazy storylines are easy and lazy because they’re true.

Red Sox 2, Marlins 1: A strong outing from Clay Buchholz, who allowed one run in seven innings to help the Sox snap a four-game skid. The Marlins played with the roof open for the second straight night, presumably because they broke a losing streak the other night while doing it. Guess it goes back to closed now.

Rangers 9, Diamondbacks 1: Colby Lewis went the distance and allowed one run on four hits. He didn’t allow a base runner until the sixth inning.

Twins 11, Phillies 7: Another easy storyline? How the Phillies are playing so bad because of so many injuries. Guess what: the people who aren’t injured sort of suck this year too. Kyle Kendrick was shelled and Joe Savery and B.J. Rosenberg weren’t much help in relief. The Phillies are actually farther out of first place than are the Twins.

Mets 11, Rays 2:  Jordany Valdespin drove in four runs. Ike Davis chipped in three more with a homer. That’s a name we haven’t called around here very often this year. Chris Young is one too. He got his first win in a year.

Nationals 4, Blue Jays 2: Bryce Harper hit a looong homer run. Yawn. I’m far more interested in the one hit by Nats catcher Jhonatan Solano. Because if he can stick in the bigs, he and Jhonny Peralta could form some sort of super hero team of misspelled Johns.

Orioles 8, Pirates 6: Brian Roberts returned to action for the first time in13 months. He led off, went 3 for 4 and hit a sac fly. The 1-4 hitters in the O’s lineup combined to go 11 for 19 while driving in six.

Dodgers 5, Angels 2: The Dodgers had a four-run eighth inning to rally. And you know what was special about that inning?

The entire inning was set up when second-base umpire Joe West called Dee Gordon safe on a two-out stolen base. Television replays appeared to show the throw from catcherHank Conger beat the runner.

Knock me over with a feather.

Padres 5, Mariners 4: Down 5-1 in the ninth, the Mariners rallied, but it fell short. Felix Hernandez looked rusty after going 11 days between starts. He went six innings, allowing nine hits, five runs and three walks.

Athletics 8, Rockies 5: Brandon Moss homered twice. When he was called up the other day I asked whether he was truly an upgrade over Kila Kaʻaihue. Since that callup he isn’t exactly setting the Earth on fire, but he has hit three home runs.

Giants 6, Astros 3: Madison Bumgarner: one-man wrecking crew. He struck out 12 in seven and two-thirds and hit a homer.

Lou Whitaker snubbed from the Hall of Fame again

Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
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Long time Tigers second baseman Lou Whitaker has long been one of baseball history’s most underrated players. He and Hall of Fame shortstop Alan Trammell formed one of the best up-the-middle combos ever, teammates since Whitaker’s debut in 1977 to his final year in 1995.

Trammell is actually a great jumping-off point to support Whitaker’s candidacy. Here are their career counting stats:

  • Whitaker: .276/.363/.426, 420 doubles, 65 triples, 244 homers, 1084 RBI, 1386 runs, 143 stolen bases, 1197 walks (9967 plate appearances)
  • Trammell: .285/.352/.415, 415 doubles, 55 triples, 185 homers, 1003 RBI, 1231 runs, 236 stolen bases, 850 walks (9376 plate appearances)

Whitaker also had slightly more Wins Above Replacement over his career according to Baseball Reference, besting Trammell 75.1 to 70.7. FanGraphs’ version of WAR puts both players slightly lower but with Whitaker still in the lead, 68.1 to 63.7.

Trammell, like Whitaker, did not make the Hall of Fame through initial eligibility on the ballot voted on by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, beginning five years after their retirement. Trammell was elected two years ago on the Modern Era ballot. Whitaker fell off the ballot in his only year of eligibility, earning just 2.9 percent of the vote in 2001. Whitaker was again snubbed on Sunday night, receiving just six of the 12 votes necessary for induction. Trammell became eligible on the BBWAA ballot in 2002 and had a 15-year run, with his support running as far down as 13.4 percent in 2007 and peaking at 40.9 percent in his final year in 2016.

Trammell and Whitaker critics cited things like never leading the league in any important categories and never winning an MVP Award as reasons why they shouldn’t be enshrined. That last reason, of course, ignores that both contributed to the Tigers winning the World Series in 1984, but I digress.

Trammell should have been elected to the Hall of Fame on the BBWAA ballot. And, since the distinction matters to so many people, he should have been inducted on the first ballot. Among Hall of Fame shortstops (at least 50 percent of their games at the position), Trammell has the eighth-highest WAR among 21 eligible players. He has ever so slightly more WAR than Barry Larkin (70.4), who made it into the Hall of Fame in his third year of eligibility with 86.4 percent of the vote.

Now, what about Whitaker? Among Hall of Fame second basemen (at least 50 percent of games at the position), Whitaker’s 75.1 WAR would rank sixth among 20 eligible second basemen. The only second basemen ahead of him are Rogers Hornsby (127.0), Eddie Collins (124.0), Nap Lajoie (107.4), Joe Morgan (100.6), and Charlie Gehringer (80.7). Whitaker outpaces such legendaries as Ryne Sandberg (68.0), Roberto Alomar (67.1), and Craig Biggio (65.5). Sandberg made it into the Hall in his third year on the ballot; Alomar his second; Biggio his third.

Among the players on the 2001 BBWAA ballot, the only player with more career WAR than Whitaker was Bert Blyleven (94.4), who eventually made it into the Hall of Fame. Dave Winfield (64.2) and Kirby Puckett (51.1) were elected that year. Also receiving hefty support that year were Gary Carter (70.1 WAR), Jim Rice (47.7), Bruce Sutter (24.1), and Goose Gossage (41.2) and each would eventually make the Hall of Fame.

WAR is not, by any means, a perfect stat, so the WAR argument may not resonate with everyone. Dating back to 1871, there have been only 66 players who hit at least 400 doubles and 200 home runs while stealing 100 bases. The only second basemen (same 50 percent stipulation) to do that are Whitaker, Hornsby, Morgan, Sandberg, Alomar, Biggio, Chase Utley, and Ian Kinsler. Additionally, Whitaker drew more walks than strikeouts over his career, 1197 to 1099. The only second basemen to do that while hitting at least 200 career homers are Whitaker, Morgan, Hornsby, Bobby Doerr, and Joe Gordon.

Whitaker was not without accolades: he won the 1978 AL Rookie of the Year Award. He was a five-time All-Star and took home four Silver Sluggers along with three Gold Gloves to boot. Trammell took home a similar amount of hardware: though he never won a Rookie of the Year Award, he did make the All-Star team six times. He went on to win four Gold Gloves and three Silver Sluggers.

In a just world, Whitaker would have been on the ballot for the then-maximum 15 years. In a sentimentally just world, he would have gone in side-by-side with Trammell in 2002. Whitaker’s candidacy certainly shouldn’t have fallen to the Modern Era ballot, and it shouldn’t have been further fumbled by a committee that gave him as many votes as Steve Garvey.