The retirement of Lou Whitaker’s shirt number was a moment many Tigers fans thought would never come. Historically, the Tigers have been known to be stingy in terms of retirement counts, giving only special distinction to former players or managers who found their way into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
So far, there have only been eight Tigers players whose numbers the team has deemed fit to retire, and a retired ninth number is that of legend Jackie Robinson. Of all these eight numbers, every player (and manager) has a board in Cooperstown: Charlie Gehringer (2); Alan Trammell (3); Hank Greenberg (5); alkaline (6) “Sparky” Anderson (11); Hal Neuhauser (16); Willie Horton (23); and Jack Morris (47).
On August 6, the Tigers will add the number 10 to the wall, the ninth Tigers player to retire, and whose number will belong to Lou Whitaker. He and Horton are the only players in this mix who are not in the Hall of Fame.
It’s a bittersweet moment, because every Tigers fan, and most baseball historians, know Lou belongs to Cooperstown along with his double-player Alan Trammell. Only half of this dynamic duo are Hall of Fame worthy no matter which way you look at them, and Trammell himself was vocal advocate of Lu’s affiliation in the hall with him.
Lou Whitaker ranked 13th of all time in JAWS for its second basement. JAWS, the yardstick set up by FanGraphs writer Jay Jaffe to assess the peak of a war career and a player’s Hall of Fame eligibility, does a really solid job of determining which player has an issue in a Hall of Fame career. Lou Whitaker is one of only two retired players in the Top 15 not to be in the Hall of Fame, the other being Bobby Grech (there’s a whole other wave of rhetoric surrounding Gretch getting overlooked, but we won’t get into that here). The fact that Whitaker has a career WAR 75.1, which is actually better Of the many recruits above him on the list, he sadly highlights his exclusion.
Whitaker belongs in the Hall of Fame, and at this point, the only way he’ll get there is by voting from Hall’s Jan Eras, which has made the dynamic player sloppy thus far. Perhaps with the Tigers finally taking the appropriate steps to honor one of their all-time greats, voters of the era may begin to take notice of someone whose trip to Cooperstown has been long overdue.
As for the Tigers, it’s a pleasure to see them spend this week putting Lou in the spotlight, and seeing his number one on the field will bring more than a few stoic fans to tears Saturday night.
Enjoy some of the best content about Whitaker from last week.
We have a special guest helping us honor Lou today.
You’ll want to arrive early for this.
️ Gates open at 4:00 ET
Be seated at 5:15 a.m. ET pic.twitter.com/msRNIoancS
– Detroit Tigers August 6, 2022
The Hall of Fame is proud to join Tweet embed And baseball fans everywhere in celebration of Lou Whitaker’s retirement, Michigan Sports Hall of Fame, 2000 class.
– Michigan Sports HOF (MSHOF) August 5, 2022
The Tigers retired Lou Whitaker’s No. 1 jersey during Saturday’s party.
Whitaker will be the 10th player in franchise history with his number retired. pic.twitter.com/AYZJDAixr0
– Brad Galli August 6, 2022
Good day Lou Whitaker, everyone.