What does the HOF have against Sweet Lou?
What do Ryne Sandberg, Roberto Alomar, Craig Biggio have in common? For starters, they are all second baseman in the Hall of Fame. Secondly, each has a career WAR (Wins Above Replacement) below Lou Whitaker by a fairly large margin.
Another frequently utilized tool to evaluate baseball players is JAWS which contains a combination of career and 7-year peak WAR totals allowing a comparison of HOF players by position. The average JAWS of 20 HOFS at the second base position is 57. Lou Whitakers is 56.5 higher than both Alomar (55.0) and Biggio (53.7).
Maybe the argument is that Lou Whitaker didn’t hit as well as his contemporaries? If we examine OPS (OBP+SLG), Lou Whitaker (.789) falls just below Sandberg (.795) and questionably-roided Biggio (.796). Marginal at best.
To be fair, Whitaker didn’t steal many bases compared to the above and his career batting average (.276) is lower than all three. He didn’t achieve the 3,000 hit milestone (neither did Sandberg). His 244 home runs don’t jump off the page (he hit 34 more than Alomar). Was this enough to remove Whitaker from the HOF ballot after his first year of eligibility? Suspect.
Whitaker was a Rookie of the Year, a 5x All-Star, a 3X Gold Glove Winner. He ranks 4th All-Time for double plays turned at his position. He provided steady, consistent play for the Tigers for almost 20 years. Only playing fewer than 100 games twice in his entire career. With the long-overdue, upcoming HOF induction of Whitaker’s 1984 teammates Alan Trammel and Jack Morris, it’s time to give Lou his due. The credentials are there even if the flash is not.