Saturday, March 2, 2013

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #2 LOU WHITAKER


DON'T HAVE UNIFORM, WILL TRAVEL.




NO LATE-CAREER FADE: HIT 35 MORE HRs IN FINAL 3 SEASONS.


DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • Lou Whitaker combined with #18 Alan Trammell to form the longest running and arguably best ever double-play combo from 1977-'95 (1,918 games). Sweet Lou could slug, too, socking 241 homers and driving home 1,084, finishing with a .276 average. A five-time All-Star, he won three Gold Gloves and played his entire 19-year career in Detroit. Bravo.

FINEST MOMENT

  • He set a team record for home runs by a second baseman for the second time by hitting No. 28 on Sept. 9, 1989, off the White Sox's Melido Perez. It was one of four times he reached 20-plus, this coming in an era when few second basemen had that kind of pop.

FINEST SEASON

  • In '83, he did a little of everything: .320 average (third in the AL), 12 homers, 72 RBI, 17 stolen bases, 40 doubles (seventh in AL), 6.5 WAR, .837 OPS and won the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards. He finished eighth in AL MVP voting.

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. AL Rookie of the Year in '78 (.285/3/58).
  2. In his only year of Hall of Fame eligibility in '01, Whitaker received only 2.9 percent of the vote (15 votes). Is it just me or did Sweet Lou get the short-shrift here?
  3. Struck out 1,099 times, walked 1,197 times. Players who walk more than strike out are in The Cardboard Examiner Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
  4. You could call Whitaker eccentric. Or an airhead. But don't call him late for the game. After forgetting to pack his jersey and cap for the '85 All-Star Game but remembering his pants and socks, he had to improvise. He cobbled together the rest of his uniform from a Metrodome souvenir stand with a mesh adjustable and a replica jersey that a clubhouse attendant stenciled his No. 1 on with a marker. The Smithsonian asked for and received the jersey; the Mayo Clinic asked for but was denied a sample of his brain.
  5. Seventh all-time in career WAR among second baseman (71.4); the average WAR among the 19 Hall of Fame second sackers is 66.0.

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