Was it fair Alan Trammell was elected to the hall of fame before his teammate Lou Whitaker? Possibly not, or since I have Whitaker ahead of Trammell probably not. However, Whitaker is less than 4 percent higher than Trammell. Both are each other’s top 5 most similar player. Too bad they couldn’t have gone in together. One thing the writers probably thought was Trammell played a more important defensive position (shortstop over second base). However, electing Trammell was wrong, the mistake was not electing Whitaker.
In 1987 the Tigers beat Toronto by one game. In a lot of people’s mind at the time the leading candidates for the MVP award were Trammell and George Bell. There batting statistics were about the same. It seemed who was on the winning team would win the MVP. Since Trammell’s team won, I thought he would win the MVP. His team won, hitting stats were close and that didn’t even consider that Trammell played a more important defensive position. Both were average fielders that year, but it is better for the team to have an average shortstop than a average left fielder.
I remember one writer saying Bell got a lot of clutch hits. Since Trammell led the league in Champion WPA and Bell wasn’t in the top 10 it was no contest there. I also looked at regular WPA and found that Trammell was only fourth, but Bell wasn’t in the top 10 there either. I think out writer had selected memory.
I also decided to look at the individual games the two played down the stretch. I am not going to change my mind. I already looked and their stats are close to the same, so that wouldn’t push Bell out front. However, these two teams played each other 7 times down the stretch making an exciting pennant race. It is one of the underrated ones so I’m going to write about it here.
Coming into the series Toronto had a half game lead. They were 93-59 while Detroit was 92 and 59. They were going to play each other 7 times in their remaining games. It would be four at Toronto, each a series in between and then a season ending 3 game series in Detroit. In those game Detroit had four games with Baltimore who didn’t have a good season, and Toronto had to play Milwaukee for three games. Milwaukee was having a good season.
Game 1 in first series: Toronto 4, Detroit 3. In addition to the Toronto victory Bell outplayed Trammell. He had 3 hits and Trammell had one. Toronto scored 4 runs in the second when down 2-0. They held on to win 4-3. Bell scored one of the runs. Trammell drove in Detroit’s third run in the seventh to bring Detroit within one. It was not enough. Mike Flanagan pitch 6.1 innings and got the win. Jack Morris pitched a complete game for Detroit as the Detroit bullpen was not very good. Morris had a higher game score than Flanagan. Toronto now had a game and a half lead.
Game 2 in first series: Toronto 3, Detroit 2. Trammell and Bell each had one hit but weren’t involved in the scoring. Detroit got 2 runs off Jimmy Key throughout the game and were up 2-0 going into the bottom of the 9th. Frank Tanana pitched 7 scoreless innings. Dickie Noles pitched a scoreless 8th and started the 9th. With 1 out Jessie Barfield hit a single off of Noles. Sparky Anderson the Detroit manager bought in Willie Hernandez. Right away Rick Leach doubled sending Barfield to 3rd. Then Manual Lee got one of the biggest hits in his career. He hit a triple to score 2 runs including the tying run. Mike Henneman came into the game and intentionally walked the next two batters to load the bases. Now it was up to Lloyd Moseby who grounded to Lou Whitaker. Lou make an error giving the Blue Jays the victory.
Game 3 in first series: Toronto 10, Detroit 9. Trammell went 4 for 4 scoring 2 runs and driving in one. Bell went 3 for 5 scoring 1 run and driving in one. The score after 1 inning was 3-3. The score after 4 and a half innings was 9-4 Detroit. Detroit had a 91 percent chance of winning the game. They didn’t as it was 9-7 going in the bottom of the ninth and they gave up three runs again. Mike Henneman who came in and got the final out in the sixth and pitched the seventh and eighth giving up 1 run, started the 9th. Bell was not involved in the winning rally. Barfield doubled. Willie Upshaw singled Barfield to third. Henneman then hit Rick Leach. Bases loaded no one out. Sparky bought in Rickey Noles into the game. Juan Beniquez hit a three-run triple to win the game. The Blue Jays were up 3 and a half games. There magic number was five. A win the next day would make the magic number 3. Then sweeping Milwaukee would give them 100 wins and the division title before having to play the last three games in Detroit. They were feeling great.
Game 4 in first season: Detroit 3, Toronto 2 The game took 13 innings. Trammell went 1 for 5 with a walk. Bell went 1 for 5 and was hit by a pitch. He drove in one run. In the first he drove in the first run. Jim Clancy then pitch 7 scoreless innings for Toronto. Tom Henke came to pitch the last two innings. Tom Henke is my 21st best relief pitcher. However, Kirk Gibson hit a homerun to tie the game in the ninth. Darrell Evans hit a homerun to lead off the eleventh to give Detroit the lead. Toronto tied the game in the bottom of the 11th. Fred McGriff came up in the bottom of the inning with the bases loaded and two outs against our old friend Mike Henneman. Henneman came out in top in this battle getting McGriff to fly out.
The next day both teams lost. This gave Toronto and edge as their magic number was now down to 4. Detroit won the second game in their series to pull within a game and half of the lead. Toronto could no longer clench the title before the Detroit series. Toronto did better in the standings the next day and both teams lost again. Toronto had lost all three of their series to Milwaukee. That hurt, but they would still come into the series ahead of Detroit as so far Detroit lost 2 of their 3 games to Baltimore. Detroit beat Baltimore the last game to come into the series only 1 game behind. Toronto had a magic number of 3, could force a playoff with one victory and win the division with two victories. Detroit had to win two games to force a playoff and win all three to win the division.
Game 1 second series: Detroit 4, Toronto 3. Trammell went 1 for 2 with two walks. He hit a homerun in the bottom of the third to tie the game at 3. Detroit scored another run in the inning to take the lead. Doyle Alexander pitched thru 7 for the victory. Mike Henneman pitched two scoreless innings to get the save and the Detroit victory. The two teams were tied with 2 games to go.
Game 2 second series: Detroit 3, Toronto 2. The game went 12 innings. Bell went 0 for 4 with 2 walks. Trammell came up in the bottom of the 12th with the bases loaded and one out. He hit a hard ball near shortstop that wasn’t fielded. The winning run scored. It could have been fielded, but the official scorer gave Trammell a hit. Not only that Detroit had a one game lead. Henneman was the winning pitcher, pitching 3 scoreless innings for the victory.
Game 3 second series: Detroit 1, Toronto 0. Bell was 1 for 3 with a walk. Trammell was 0 for 1 with 2 walks. Both starters pitched great. Larry Herndon hit a homerun in the bottom of the second to give Detroit the lead. Jimmy Key gave up 3 hits and 3 walks and had a game score of 77. Tanana gave up 6 hits and 3 walks but no runs to get the win and Detroit the division. Tanana had a game score of 81.
In my opinion Trammell was slightly better than Bell in the seven games, so another reason he should be MVP.