And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Dodgers 3, Mets 0: When I noticed that Clayton Kershaw — who, after a slow-for-him start has been his old dominant self lately — was going to be facing the Mets this week, my first thought was that it was gonna be a slaughter. Then my second thought was that baseball is weird and unpredictable and you can’t ever hype games in advance and hope that they’ll conform to the hype, so that it’d probably be the case that the Mets would score six runs off of him in five innings. Just go with your first impulse, Craig. Just go with your first impulse. A perfecto into the seventh which ended in a three-hit shutout on 104 pitches with 11 strikeouts. He now has 29 consecutive scoreless innings and is on pace for a 300+ strikeout year.

Yankees 9, Orioles 3: The sweep, as the Yankees are just rolling. It must suck to be a Yankees columnist now, what with there being no controversy and stuff. Maybe you can write a “are the Yankees peaking too soon?!” alarmist column, but that only really gets you a day. Thoughts, prayers.Jacoby Ellsbury singled, doubled and homered — but did not “finish a triple shy of the cycle because that is not a notable thing as it has happens hundreds of times a season — and drove in four runs. Chase Headley hit a bases-clearing double in the first inning.

Blue Jays 5, Athletics 2: Russell Martin drove in three  — two of ’em on a two run homer — to back R.A. Dickey who pitched into the ninth inning. So if it was just the two of them playing the Jays would win. Wait, not. If it was just the two of them there would be a LOT of inside the park homers. Never mind.

Pirates 7, Nationals 3: Francisco Liriano pitched into the seventh, allowing three hits and struck out 11. Crazy stat/factoid thingie from the AP wire story: Liriano retired the first 12 hitters he faced on either strikeouts or grounders back to the mound. So maybe in this one the pitcher, catcher and first baseman could’ve been the only ones to play and the Pirates would’ve been just fine?

Cardinals 4, Royals 3: World Series preview? Well, maybe not quite as this was just a rainout makeup and the real World Series will last longer than one game. At least as long as we don’t have a “Dark Knight Rises” situaish happen with some garbled-mouth terrorist taking over Kansas City. Of course if that does happen it’ll be a lot easier to escape what with K.C. really only having a river on one side of it and a lot of ways to leave it without having to cross major bridges and things. Oh, this game, right: John Lackey pitched well. Grichuk and Carpenter each hit two-run homers. As for these two teams matching up, ugh. We’re all sort of tired of the Cardinals, right? If they’re playing deep into October again I *Bane voice* won’t fear death. I’ll welcome it. Our punishment must be more severe.

Mariners 3, Tigers 2: Mike Zunino had an RBI double in the top of the 12th inning. He also extinguished a scoring threat in the 10th by throwing out Anthony Gose trying to steal. All this after entering the game late following Jesus Sucre being lifted for a pinch hitter. Which means that, technically speaking, he wasn’t even supposed to be here today.

Marlins 4, Padres 0: In Soviet Russia, Koehler flushes YOU! Tom Koehler: 7 IP, 3 H 0 ER. The Fish put up a four-run sixth on a wild pitch a throwing error and a couple of singles.

Twins 3, Angels 0: Ervin Santana tossed eight four-hit shutout innings against his old mates. And this time it could be meant literally as there are a lot of dudes on that Angels team who were there when Santana played for ’em. Trevor Plouffe hit a three-run homer for the game’s only offense. This thing lasted two hours and sixteen minutes. Getaway day, man. Getaway day.

 

White Sox 8, Indians 1: Jeff Samardzija could’ve just made his last start as a White, um, Sock. If so it was a good one: he allowed one run on four hits in eight innings. Meanwhile, Melky Cabrera went 2-for-3 with two homers.

Astros 5, Red Sox 4: Jose Altuve’s walkoff homer sent the Sox to their eighth straight loss. Altuve had four hits on the night. When does Patriots training camp start? Heck, folks in Boston may even settle for the Celtics right about now.

Diamondbacks 8, Brewers 3: Zack Godley made his major league debut and all he did was strike out seven in six shutout innings. From the AP story, this quote from Chip Hale:

“The umpire, Brian O’Nora, came over and said, `This guy has got really good stuff.'”

That’s pretty good, yes? According to Elias, Godley is the first pitcher since at least 1900 to throw at least six scoreless innings with no walks and seven or more strikeouts in his major league debut. That’s also pretty good.

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.