Trammell falls short in final year on HOF ballot

Shortstop's candidacy now moves to Veterans Committee

January 6th, 2016

DETROIT -- After 15 years of praise, scrutiny, comparisons and calculations, Alan Trammell's time on the Hall of Fame ballot is over. Oddly enough, the Tigers great's chances of getting into Cooperstown might eventually be better for it.

Trammell's final year on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot for the Hall ended with a modest gain in votes, but still not close to the 75 percent needed for induction. Trammell received 180 votes out of 440 submitted ballots, closing out his eligibility with a peak of 40.9 percent of votes.

Another former Tiger on the ballot, Gary Sheffield, received 51 votes, good for 11.6 percent of the ballots returned. The only other ex-Tiger on the ballot, former catcher turned current Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, received no votes and will now be off the ballot.

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The result wasn't a surprise; Trammell had resigned himself years ago to the idea that he would never get enough votes from BBWAA to gain induction.

Trammell told MLB Network Radio earlier this week that rather than waiting by the phone, he'd usually be golfing around the time voting results were released. This year, even though it was his last on the ballot, was no different.

"I don't know if I was ever really in a position [to get optimistic]," Trammell told in a phone conversation Wednesday evening. "I don't know if I feel any different today than however many years ago. The first year or so, if you're up [around] 60 percent there's anticipation that I might get in, or you're curious to see where you stack up. "Well right of the chute, getting a low percentage, knowing that, you know you're not going to make some 50 percent [gain] to get to the 75 [percent mark]. That's a heck of an increase. You know it's not going to happen."

Time proved kinder to his case, as advanced metrics crept further into voters' consideration and put Trammell's career in a slightly different perspective. Yet Trammell's time under Hall consideration on the BBWAA ballot might be better known for his peers who did get in.

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Trammell's first year on the ballot in 2001 was also the first year for Ozzie Smith, who gained induction with 91.7 percent of the vote. Despite a very comparable -- and in some facets, better -- resume, Trammell was selected on just 15.7 percent of the ballots, a disparity that enraged many Tigers fans who saw Trammell as the most likely Hall of Famer on Detroit's 1984 World Series championship team.

The debate raged anew when another of Trammell's contemporaries, former Reds great Barry Larkin, was inducted four years ago, having crossed the 75 percent mark in his third year of eligibility.

"Realistically, I knew it wasn't going to happen in this regular voting," Trammell said. "And we'll go to the Veterans Committee and see what happens."

That's the good news for Trammell, a chance to have his case weighed by a committee of Hall of Fame players and other greats around the game. The bad news is he'll have to wait five more years to be eligible for that, contrary to a previous report.

"I know there's a good number of people in my corner, and that's nice to know and I appreciate that," Trammell said. "Even if I do get in, I hope I wouldn't change. But me and Lou [Whitaker], getting to the Hall [together], that's the way I would really enjoy it.

"That's still my dream: If it ever happens, it would be that way."

Whitaker, Trammell's double-play partner in Detroit for the better part of two decades, has been off the ballot for 15 years, having been selected on less than five percent of ballots in 2001.