Nearly three decades after his last game, Lou Whitaker took another hit and miss on Monday.
The Baseball Hall of Fame cast its vote for the “Contempory Baseball Era” committee, which included players who have starred in MLB since 1980 and left out the longtime Detroit Tigers second baseman.
Instead, the December committee vote features eight players — Albert Belle, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Dale Murphy, Rafael Palmeiro and Curt Schilling — who played mostly after Whitaker’s scoop ended. A candidate needs 75% to be elected, and everyone who does will be inducted on July 23, along with everyone elected in the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot, which will be announced January 24. Last April, De Hall restructured the Veterans Committee process for the third time in 12 years. There will be a contemporary-era committee vote for managers, executives and umpires in December 2023 and a classic baseball-era vote in December 2024.
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At the time the trial was being reworked, Whitaker was thought to have a shot at being included in the December vote. Whitaker played his entire career with the Tigers, making his debut in 1977 and retiring after the 1995 season with a .276 batting average, 244 home runs and 1,084 RB’s over 2,390 games. He was the 1978 American League Rookie of the Year in 1978 and made five consecutive AL All-Star selections (1983-87) with four Silver Slugger awards (best hitter at his position) and three Gold Gloves (best fielder). Whitaker’s best season was probably 1983, when he hit .320 with 12 home runs, 40 doubles and 72 runs in to finish eighth in the AL MVP voting.
Whitaker produced 75.1 WAR, tied with Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench for 82nd place in MLB history, according to Baseball Reference. The Hall of Fame has 340 members, including 268 former MLB players. Of those 268, 20 were mostly second basemen, and Whitaker’s WAR total is seventh among them, behind only Charlie Gehringer (84.8), Rod Carew (81.2), Joe Morgan (100.4), Nap Lajoie (106 .9), Eddie Collins (124.4) and Rogers Hornsby (127.3).
Whitaker was also known for his stable defense during his 19-season career in Detroit. He teamed up with shortstop Alan Trammell to play the most games together of any 2B/SS combination in MLB history.
Trammell was elected to the Hall by the Veterans Committee as part of the class of 2018 (along with fellow Tiger Jack Morris). Trammell and Morris then stumbled upon Whitaker’s introduction to the Hall. He received only 2.9% of the vote from the BBWAA in 2001, well below the 5% carry-over threshold, and dropped out of the vote.
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Trammell renewed his call for Whitaker’s introduction in August, when the Tigers knocked out the infielder’s No. 1 in a pregame ceremony: “I couldn’t be more honored to have No. 1 next to No. 3, forever connected,” said Trammell . . ‘And do you know what the next step is? The Hall of Fame.”
Whitaker has mostly kept quiet about whether he deserves the Hall call, though his retirement this year brought out some of his strongest statements on the matter.
“What can I say, now that I’m there (on the wall of Comerica Park), that I belong in the Hall of Fame?” Whitaker told the Free Press in August. “My friends would say, ‘Wait a minute, Lou.’ As they keep crunching the numbers that’s their job That’s not my job Should I say I belong in the Hall of Fame What do you think Should I? Shouldn’t I?
“I’ll wait for that day. I’m sure that day will come. I might be 99 and walk with a cane and say, ‘Finally, why did it take so long?’ But that day will come.”
Instead, Whitaker will have to wait until at least December 2025 – he will be 68 – when the committee meets again after 1980. Bonds, Clemens and Schilling are recent additions to the Veterans’ ballot, as they became ineligible for the BBWAA ballot in January, having passed the 10e right year. Bonds received 260 of 394 votes (66%), Clemens 257 (65.2%) and Schilling 231 (58.6%). Bonds and Clemens have Hall of Fame numbers, but were accused of using performance-enhancing drugs during their later seasons. Schilling has no PED allegations, but has seen his support for Hall dwindle (after coming within 16 votes for induction in 2021) after snide remarks he made when he retired against Muslims, transgenders, reporters and others. Palmeiro is one of only seven players to have had 3,000 hits and 500 home runs (along with Tigers great Miguel Cabrera, who joined the club in April), but tested positive for PEDs a few months after he opposed the use of drugs in Congress in 2005. testified to it.
The vote was set by the BBWAA’s 11-member Historical Review Committee: Bob Elliott (Canadian Baseball Network), Jim Henneman (formerly Baltimore Sun), Steve Hirdt (Stats Perform), Rick Hummel (St. Louis Post-Dispatch), David O’Brien (The Athletic), Jack O’Connell (BBWAA), Jim Reeves (formerly Fort Worth Star-Telegram), Tracy Ringolsby (InsideTheSeams.com), Glenn Schwarz (formerly San Francisco Chronicle), Susan Slusser (San Francisco Chronicle ), and Mark Whicker (Los Angeles News Group).
Free Press sportswriters Tony Garcia and Evan Petzold and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Tigers’ Lou Whitaker rejected by Baseball Hall of Fame vet vote