And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Just gonna warn you: this was written as cold medicine was taking effect, with wine — ill advised, I know — and while listening to the new xx album. Lots of heavy stuff here, not best for reason or, for that matter, the reading of box scores.  But we’ll soldier through because this is the Internet and the Internet is serious business, folks:

Red Sox 4, Yankees 3: I guess if everything else has gone wrong you can still make yourself feel better by playing spoiler. Jacoby Ellsbury with four hits including the walkoff single. On his birthday no less. David Robertson: seventh loss in relief this year. Remember back when we thought Mariano Rivera wasn’t actually missed all that much? Yeah, that was hilarious.

Orioles 9, Rays 2: J.J. Hardy homered twice — he had four hits in all — and the O’s are back tied for first place in the wild wild east. Unfortunately, they lost starter Jason Hammel to what appears to be a recurrence of the same knee injury that cost him July and August.

Nationals 5, Mets 3: Bryce Harper had four hits. This new xx album, though it sounds completely different, does put me in the same mood as the soundtrack to the Wim Wenders film “Until the End of the World,” which is one of my favorite albums of all time. Been listening to it since it came out. A year before Bryce Harper was born. Damn I feel old sometimes.

Reds 5, Pirates 3: Pittsburgh is now 72-69. Jeez. It was bad enough to see them slip out of playoff contention, but it would stink if they can’t even crack .500. Mike Leake did some serious own-cause-helping, with two hits and a run scored on a wild pitch.

Phillies 9, Marlins 7: Speaking of cause-helping, Roy Halladay — who didn’t pitch particularly well — had an RBI single. Jimmy Rollins hit a homer and drove in three. The Phillies are back to .500 for the first time since early June.

Brewers 5, Braves 0: Milwaukee continues to roll — they’re not at .500 for the first time since April — and the Braves continue to have a hell of a time scoring runs. Marco Estrada tied them up here, pitching shutout ball into the seventh.

Astros 1, Cubs 0: Just your everyday six pitcher, six-hit shutout. Unless I’m counting wrong, the Astros used 19 players in this game, thus explaining the three hour and eleven minute run time.

Royals 9, Twins 1: Seven shutout innings for Will Smith. And even with the cold medicine I am refraining from dropping references to the more famous Will Smith. By this, of course, I mean the English cricketer, the opening batsman and right arm off-spin bowler who currently plays for Durham.

Tigers 5, White Sox 3: Doug Fister allowed two runs over seven and the lack of Ryan Raburn correlates with the Tigers actually scoring runs. Hurm. The Tigers are back to within two.

Rangers 6, Indians 4: What a shocker: Adrian Beltre hit a home run. Matt Harrison won his sixteenth. Ubaldo Jimenez, in contrast, lost his 16th, which is the most in the bigs.

Mariners 4, Blue Jays 3: Kyle Seager went 3 for 5 and fell a triple short of the cycle — not that we should care — and Erasmo Ramirez got his first major league win. Franklin Gutierrez made his first error in 301 games. He regrets it, I’m sure, and can give you his complete assurance that his work will be back to normal. He’s still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And he wants to help you.

Padres 6, Cardinals 4: The Cardinals are rolling out the red carpet for the Dodgers and Pirates to waltz back into the second wild card slot, though those two don’t seem intent on walking it. Maybe Milwaukee and Philly will. In any event, the Cards have dropped 10 of 14.  A five run fourth for San Diego helped put the game away.

Diamondbacks 1, Dodgers 0: Ian Kennedy tossed seven and a third shutout innings. And Miguel Montero hit an RBI double. That, combined with this …

Giants 9, Rockies 8: … give the Giants a six game lead with 20 to play, so the NL West is over. This was the best cause-helping game of them all, with Madison Bumgarner hitting a three-run homer to tie it up at four in the fourth. He didn’t pitch worth a damn, but the other seven (seven!) Giants pitchers held the Rockies down long enough for San Francisco to eek it out.

Athletics 6, Angels 5: Anaheim had a comeback win in them, you could just tell. It was 6-3 in the ninth, the Angels plated two and then had runners on the corners with no one out. Out goes Grant Balfour, in comes Jerry Blevins and it’s strikeout, double play, over. All on eight pitches. Not bad.

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.