For the first time since 2001, the Hall of Fame Eras Committee (previously known as the Veterans Committee) has inducted a new living member into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. Not only did this committee (known as the Modern Baseball Committee) finally elect a living ex-player, they elected two, former Detroit Tigers teammates Jack Morris and Alan Trammell.
After coming oh so close to a Cooperstown plaque in 15 years on the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) ballot (topping out at 68% in 2014), the wait has ended for Morris, the longtime ace of the Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins and Toronto Blue Jays. The gritty right-handed starter won 254 games in his major league career and was a renowned post-season performer, epitomized by his 10-inning shutout in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series against the Atlanta Braves.
Morris was named on 14 of the 16 ballots (87.5%), easily clearing the bar of 75% (12 votes)
Cooperstown Cred: Jack Morris (Hall of Fame Class of 2018)
- Career: 254-186 (.577), 3.90 ERA, 2,478 strikeouts
- Career: 175 complete games, most of any MLB pitcher since 1975
- 3-time 20-game winner
- 5 times in top 5 of Cy Young Voting (7 times in top 10)
- 3-time World Series Champion (with 3 different teams)
- Career: 7-4, 3.80 ERA in 13 post-season starts
- 5-time All-Star (started 3 times)
- Opening Day starter for 14 consecutive years (1980-1993)
(cover photos: mlb.com)
For a full analysis about why Jack Morris was a highly worthy Hall of Fame inductee, despite the arrows he will take from the analytics community, please enjoy the piece I published about him last week, which includes a sabermetric argument in his favor:
Trammell, who spent his entire career with the Detroit Tigers, never came close to the 75% of the writers’ vote that is required for a spot in the Hall, finishing with a high of 41% of the vote in 2016. However, the 6-time All-Star was highly respected among his peers and he had the highest WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of any of the nine player candidates on the Modern Baseball Ballot.
Trammell was named on 13 of the 16 ballots (81.3%).
Cooperstown Cred: Alan Trammell (Hall of Fame Class of 2018)
- Career: .285 BA, 185 HR, 1,003 RBI, 2,365 hits, 236 SB
- Career: 110 OPS+, 70.4 WAR
- 1984 World Series MVP: .450 BA, 2 HR, 6 RBI
- Runner-up in 1987 A.L. MVP Vote: .343 BA, 28 HR, 105 RBI, 109 Runs
- 1,307 career double plays turned (7th most all-time for shortstops)
- 6-time All-Star
- 4-time Gold Glove Winner
For more on what makes Alan Trammell a deserving member of the Hall of Fame, please take a look at the piece I authored about him two weeks ago:
The 16-member Modern Baseball Committee who conferred the ultimate baseball honor upon Morris and Trammell today included 8 Hall of Famers, 5 current MLB executives and three longtime media members or historians:
George Brett, Rod Carew, Bobby Cox, Dennis Eckersley, John Schuerholz, Don Sutton, Dave Winfield and Robin Yount; major league executives Sandy Alderson (Mets), Paul Beeston (Blue Jays), Bob Castellini (Reds), Bill DeWitt (Cardinals) and David Glass (Royals); and veteran media members/historians Bob Elliott, Steve Hirdt and Jayson Stark.
One interesting and obvious common thread about the six Hall of Fame players on the panel is that they all were primarily American League players in the 1980’s, when Morris and Trammell were making their marks. In addition, Schuerholz was the G.M. of the Kansas City Royals and Cox managed the Toronto Blue Jays (A.L. East rivals of the Tigers) from 1982-85. With respect to Morris, media members Stark and Elliott both voted for him in his 15th and final appearance on the BBWAA ballot so it’s likely that he had those two votes in the bag as well.
The Modern Game ballot was stacked with talent and there was some fear that there would be a big split of the vote, causing multiple players to fall just shy of the 12 votes needed to be elected. The list of candidates who were not elected to the Hall of Fame this year all had significant impacts on the game of baseball.
- Ted Simmons (11 votes) (8-time All-Star, 2nd most hits and RBI all-time for catchers)
- Marvin Miller (7 votes) (longtime Executive Director of the MLB Players Association)
Less than 7 (out of 12) votes each:
- Tommy John (288 wins, most for any pitcher since 1901 other than Clemens not in the Hall of Fame)
- Luis Tiant (229 wins, won 20 games 4 times)
- Dale Murphy (2-time MVP, 7-time All-Star, 5-time Gold Glove Award winner)
- Don Mattingly (1985 A.L. MVP, 6-time All-Star, 9-time Gold Glove Award winner)
- Dave Parker (1979 N.L. MVP, 7-time All-Star)
- Steve Garvey (1974 N.L. MVP, 10-time All-Star, N.L. record 1,207 consecutive games played)
For fans of the the switch-hitting Simmons, who has the 2nd most and hits and RBI all-time among MLB catchers, it’s a bitter “close but no cigar” with the player known as Simba falling just one vote short of a Cooperstown plaque.
Miller, as the leader of the players’ union at a critical moment in baseball history (1966-83), has been on these ballots several times before and, despite being one of the influential men in the history of the game, has never been able to get 75% of the vote on the various committees. This is likely (but not certainly) because of the presence of multiple executives (with whom he battled for years) on the committees.
As for the players, this was Tiant’s sixth time on the Veterans or Eras Committee ballot. He’s never gotten close to induction. It may be time to stop torturing El Tiante in this process. Simmons, John and Garvey were all on one of these ballots for the third time; for Parker, it was his second time; Mattingly and Murphy were first-timers along with Morris and Trammell.
If there’s a small silver lining for the players who missed on a Cooperstown plaque this year, the Hall of Fame recently revamped the Eras Committee process to allow for more opportunities for players from this under-represented generation of baseball stars to gain the sport’s ultimate honor. It will only be two years before the Modern Baseball Committee convenes again, voting for players whose primary impact occurred between 1970-1987 for the Hall of Fame Class of 2020. Two more opportunities come shortly thereafter, with committees to be convened to vote for potential members of the Classes of 2023 and 2025.
In the meantime, the BBWAA is currently voting on the more recent generation of great players. Those results will be announced on January 24th. With Trevor Hoffman, Vladimir Guerrero, Chipper Jones and Jim Thome all likely to get 75% of the vote, it will be a magnificent summer day in Cooperstown on July 29th, with the induction of potentially six new members.
To Jack Morris and Alan Trammell, congratulations for making it to the Hall of Fame. It’s well deserved for both.
Thanks for reading,