Election of Morris and Trammell marks shift in Hall of Fame vetting process

Jack Morris and Alan Trammell, stars of the 1984 World Champion Detroit Tigers, have both been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and will be inducted in the summer of 2018.

It has finally happened for Detroit Tigers fans.

The Baseball Hall of Fame elected not one, but two Tigers legends on Sunday in the Modern Era Committee voting as Jack Morris and Alan Trammell were elected.

It is about time.

The last player to go into the Hall of Fame with a Tigers cap was Hal Newhouser in 1992. That is an awfully long time for a franchise with such a storied history.

But now, decades of overlook have finally ended for Trammell and Morris.

They both needed to get at least 12 of the 16 committee votes at the Baseball Winter Meetings on Sunday. Morris got 14 and Trammell got 13.

They were nearly joined by a third player as Ted Simmons fell just one vote short with 11. Marvin Miller got seven and the rest of the players — Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker and Luis Tiant each received fewer than seven votes.

This was a monumental election for many reasons.

The first is that it finally puts Detroit on the Hall of Fame map again. It has been 25 years of watching players get in wearing other caps. And to have both Tigers who were finalists make it together is almost unbelievable.

The second is what this does for Lou Whitaker. Now, Whitaker was left off the top 10 finalists for some reason (there isn’t a reason good enough). He was in many ways, including advanced metrics, more valuable than both Trammell and Morris. So the election of those two should give Whitaker a better chance and bring more exposure to his case.

The biggest reason it was monumental is the fact that any players were elected at all. The last time any voting body other than the writers voted in a living player was Bill Mazeroski in 2001. The committees have nearly pitched a shutout since then as only (deceased) players Ron Santo, Joe Gordon and Deacon White have been elected, while plenty of non-players have made it.

This election gave hope to candidates in every era that a committee can actually vote in some deserving players. And because of that, there will be at least two more finalist spots on the ballot the next time around, which could/should put Whitaker on there, but could also give a fighting chance to someone like Al Oliver or Bobby Grich or Dwight Evans or Thurman Munson, or even former Tigers Lance Parrish, Bill Madlock and Darrell Evans.

The most interesting thing about this election is that Trammell and Morris are going in together. Yes, for Tiger fans, it adds to the greatness of the story, and will likely bring even more fans from Michigan to Cooperstown this summer. So in that sense, it fits that long-deserving Tigers are going in together.

But on the other hand, it doesn’t fit at all. The former teammates have Hall of Fame cases that are the antithesis of each other.

Trammell has been one of the posterchildren candidates backed by sabermetrics and advanced statistics. His stats and career looked really good, but perhaps just short of Hall worthy before advanced metrics were able to help prove he was more valuable than many people thought, especially across the country. In Detroit, we always knew.

Morris, on the other hand, represents the old guard and the fight back against those same metrics. Jay Jaffe wrote a chapter in his book “Cooperstown Casebook” called “The War on WAR” which basically showed that two players on both sides of the argument of advances metrics being valued, actually played at the same time and the same position. Morris represented the case for durability and postseason heroics, while Bert Blyleven was an undervalued pitcher on a lot of crummy teams that got overlooked. With the election of Morris, they are now both Hall of Famers.

To have two players that played for the same team, who won a World Series together, get into the Hall of Fame at the same time, yet have their cases come from opposite sides of the same argument is monumental because it shows that players with all kinds of cases and arguments can still reach Cooperstown.

It took a long time for Morris and Trammell, but it has finally reached the pinnacle conclusion.

Now, it’s Whitaker’s turn.

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