Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
In the case of both players, it can be a very difficult discussion, because both players were such significant figures, from a local perspective. In the case of Jack Morris, the struggle becomes that he just no longer holds up by modern-day numbers criteria. In a 14-year stretch, he won at least 15 games every year but two, and the other two seasons he won 14 which was good for tops in the American League, and in 1989 he won only six on a 100-plus loss Tigers team. The problem remains that as he aged his ERA ballooned which killed his career ERA, and even at his peak, he likely fell more into the "consistently good" category as opposed to great or dominating. There's still a large sentiment out there that feels there's no one way that they'd rather hand the ball to in a big game than Jack Morris in the 80's, but it's just so difficult to quantify that sort of feeling or compare it to his peers. While a great pitcher, Morris turns up a no for me. Trammell interestingly enough has a similar position, being a consistently good but rarely great player, with the possible exception of 1987, when he was robbed of the MVP award. Trammell again was a very good player, but was never someone that you'd go to the ballpark just to see, and an OPS+ of 110 doesn't do much to alter that stance. Unfortunately, while they're both Hall of Famers in my Tigers' heart, likely neither truly deserves a place in Cooperstown.
Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
Let's start with the case of Morris. I look at Morris' career and nothing jumps up and smacks me in the face and says this guy is a Hall of Famer. I just don't see it. He had a career ERA+ of 105, indicating he was only slightly above-average for his career, and even his peak years were nothing sensational. His career ERA of 3.90 doesn't scream great pitcher to me. He never finished higher than third in the AL Cy Young voting, which he managed twice. You look at his similarity scores at BaseballReference.com and the top name is Dennis Martinez. Their numbers actually compare quite favorably, and in my eyes, that's not a good thing when speaking of Hall of Fame candidacy. With Trammell, he also finished as merely an above-average player, though higher above the mean than Morris, with a 110 career OPS+. He was able to attain a higher peak, which helps his cause. Here's the rub, outside of a couple of really nice peak years, and consistency, what are his HoF credentials? Even with his longevity and consistency, he didn't reach any of the big milestone numbers that tend to be associated with Hall of Famers. In the cases of both Morris and Trammell, they were solid players for a very long time. Even with the use of more advanced or modern statistical measures, neither player suddenly jumps out as exceedingly underrated or worthy of greater consideration. As a long time Tiger fan, both players hold a special place in my heart, but even that can't convince me that either player is really true Hall of Fame material.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
I think Alan Trammell is worthy of Hall of Fame consideration, but it's likely going to take induction from the Veterans Committee to do it. When he was at his peak, Trammell was one of the top shortstops in baseball, but what hurts his overall numbers is how his career ended.
In four of his last five years, he didn't play in 100 games. Had he even had decent years, he would've easily eclipsed the 2,500 hits mark, as well as 200 home runs, which would've certainly made his numbers stick out even more.
His overall numbers are impressive, but he could likely get lost in the shuffle since shortstops over the last 20 years have become much more offensive minded than in previous generations.
As far as Jack Morris goes, I don't think he is a Hall of Famer. There is no question that he had an outstanding career, but I wouldn't call him dominant by any means. He was placed in the top five in ERA only twice and strikeouts just four times. His highest finishes in the Cy Young balloting were two distant third-place finishes. Don't get me wrong, Morris had an outstanding career with 254 wins, but I've never thought of him as a Hall of Famer.
To be honest, I think you can make a more compelling case for Lou Whitaker than for Morris, but that's just me.
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