Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 1/9/12
The state of Michigan did not get completely shut out in Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame vote, revealed Monday afternoon. Former University of Michigan player Barry Larkin, the longtime Cincinnati Reds shortstop, was the only player elected to the Hall of Fame. Larkin earned 86 percent of the votes, jumping from 62.1 percent in last year's voting, the largest one-year increase since 1948. Two of the stars from the Tigers' 1984 championship team, Jack Morris and Alan Trammell, both had significant increases but not enough to reach the 75 percent mark for election. However, it appears Morris' campaign is gaining momentum, as he went from 53.5 percent last year to 67 percent this year. Trammell saw his percentage grow from 24.3 percent last year to 36.8 percent this year. Larkin's election actually is good news for both Morris and Trammell. In Morris' case, he's just eight percentage points away from the magical 75 percent mark. Larkin made more of a leap than that in one year. Of course, Morris does have that cranky reputation to contend with, despite having mellowed in recent years. The other main issue some voters have with him is his career 3.90 ERA, which Morris addressed with longtime Detroit News Tigers beat writer Tom Gage. "The constant knock is how can you put a guy in with a 3.90 ERA," Morris told Gage. "I wish someone would have told me that when I was in Double A ball, because I could have been leading the league in ERA for many years. I don't know if I would have won as many games as I did, but I could have had a heck of an ERA. "I never worried about that, though. I went out there to win the game -- and if, because of that, I'm fortunate enough to get into the Hall of Fame someday, that would be wonderful. Granted, I've wanted it was much as anybody and I want it now as much as I ever have. But there are no guarantees." Interestingly, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, after seeing Morris' jump, admitted, "I haven't been a Morris voter but am I going to be the one guy keeping him out? It's going to force me to reconsider strongly." If you look at the statistics for Larkin, a shortstop who played at the same time as Trammell, it's been well-documented that they have similar numbers. Trammell: 2,293 games, 1,231 runs, 2,365 hits, 185 home runs, 1,003 RBIs, .352 on-base percentage, .285 batting average, four Gold Gloves. Larkin: 2,180 games, 1,329 runs, 2,340 hits, 198 home runs, 960 RBIs, .371 on-base percentage, .295 batting average, three Gold Gloves. Of if you prefer the currently favored WAR (wins above replacement) stat, Trammell's is 66.9 and Larkin's is 68.9. Several baseball writers who are voters published their ballots and quite a few voted for both Trammell and Larkin, like longtime writer Mel Antonen. "Biggest injustice on the ballot with 24.3 percent of the vote last season," Antonen wrote. "He's the American League version of Larkin. "He played in the offensive shadow of Cal Ripken Jr. and the defensive shadow of Ozzie Smith. Still, Trammell defined the 1980s Detroit Tigers, won the 1984 World Series MVP and finished with more hits than Larkin. Trammell helped revolutionize the shortstop position into an offensive force. He's got four years left on the BBWAA ballot to make the Hall. Tough call on whether he will make it." Or consider cbssports.com's Scott Miller, a former Minnesota Twins beat writer who had plenty of opportunities to see Trammell play in person: "That he received only 24.3 percent of the vote last year is thoroughly embarrassing -- for the voters, not for Trammell," Miller said. "Three of his contemporaries at shortstop from the 1970s and 1980s sailed into Cooperstown: Cal Ripken Jr., Robin Yount and Ozzie Smith. No way the gap between them and Trammell is this large." If you like WAR, you might love WAAS, which stands for Wins Above All-Star level, a system for Hall of Fame voting promoted by Peter Keating in the most recent ESPN the Magazine. Keating looks at a player's WAR each year, subtracts 2.5 from each season and adds up the total. Any season in which the adjusted WAR is a negative is dismissed because WAAS is supposed to evaluate peak performance. Using the fact that there are approximately 200 former big-league players in the Hall, Keating places 20 WAAS as the cutoff for Hall of Fame-level players. Keating said that Ron Santo, who was elected by the veterans committee, had a WAAS of 38.4, better than 60 percent of third basemen in the Hall of Fame. Although not impressed with the first-year eligibles, Keating said, "But several returning candidates are worthy, including Jeff Bagwell (45.2) and Edgar Martinez (34.8), truly great hitters, and Alan Trammell (32.1), Barry Larkin (31.7) and Tim Raines (27.0), whose all-around play produced many high-WAAS seasons." With Keating's system, Morris would be on the outside looking in with a 13.7 WAAS. Based upon the way voting trends are going, Morris looks like he has a very good chance to be elected in the next year or two. Trammell, however deserving, will need some help.
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