Trammell being unfairly judged?
January, 2, 2008
Monday in this space, I wrote: "I suspect if you solicited ballots from five nonvoters (say: Rob Neyer, Joe Sheehan, Keith Law, Rich Lederer and David Pinto), you would find a great deal of uniformity. I suspect that we all would vote for [Tim] Raines, [Bert] Blyleven, [Alan] Trammell and [Goose] Gossage." Well, no. At the very least I should have checked to see if Joe Sheehan had already written about his (theoretical) ballot. He had, last week (members only). And indeed, Joe would vote for Raines, Blyleven and Gossage (and Mark McGwire, as I suspected). But not Trammell ...
Once again, Trammell's candidacy is the most difficult one to evaluate. He was one of the best players in baseball at his peak, and was part of the bridge from shortstops as singles hitters to the better players we see out there today. On the other hand, he had a fairly short peak and a short career. I'm wary of the defensive numbers on him, as his home park was notorious for its high infield grass. With so much of Trammell's statistical case built on very good defensive stats at his peak, the twinge of doubt I feel about their validity makes me nervous. My bigger objection, though, is to the way his career ended. Trammell was done as a full-time player at 32, which is awfully early for a 20th-century position player being pushed for Cooperstown. Like [Jim] Rice, Trammell would have been a Hall of Famer with a more typical decline phase. Instead, he had 10.2 WARP, total, after 32. I'm leaving him off, again.