Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Anti HOF: Lou Whitaker

Longevity seldom gets equated with greatness in pro sports. But maybe it should. Granted, there is value and intrigue in somebody who burns brightly and then fades away quickly (i.e. Sandy Koufax) but especially in MLB with a 162 game schedule, coast-to-coast travel and six months straight that sees players/"playas" bounce 5-6 nights a week, it'd be nice if we gave the spotlight to those who endure at a strong, servicable (but not superstar) level for many years.

This reason got Bert Blyleven elected to the MLB HOF in 2011 and Lou Whitaker elected (named? fingered?... what works) to the MFS Anti-HOF in 2011. Whitaker was always just "around" in Detroit: solid numbers, solid defence, no boat rockin' or fist bumpin'. He just did his job and did it well for 19 seasons, most of those with the jittery Alan Trammell at his side. Aside from a Rookie of the Year award, five All-Star appearances and three Gold Gloves, Whitaker's career numbers speak to this longevity and big picture. And to make a bold statement, they are QUITE impressive when compared to many of his MLB contemporaries who also appeared on the 2001 HOF ballot:
- 1386 runs (more than Kirby Puckett, Gary Carter or Jim Rice, all of whom are in the HOF)
- 2369 hits (more than Carter, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy or Keith Hernandez)
- 244 homeruns (more than Mattingly... another "shined briefly yet brightly" example in the Koufax mold)
- 1084 RBIs (more than Hernandez or Lance Parrish)

Without getting too cosmic, staying healthy is a skill in itself and accordingly, let's give "Sweet Lou" a slap on the butt and a membership card to the Anti-HOF.

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