Year Inducted: 1946 (Veterans Committee)
Double play partners that stick together for a long time are typically combined into one thought. Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker are forever linked and it is nigh impossible to think of one without the other. Of course, this all harkens back to the double play teammates of the 1900s Cubs with Frank Chance at first, Johnny Evers at second, and Joe Tinker at shortstop.
The problem is that, from a Hall of Fame perspective, if one gets in many feel the other(s) should, too. This is probably why all three of Tinker, Evers and Chance were inducted together in the same year, and why the aforementioned Whitaker/Trammell combo remains outside of Cooperstown (Whitaker was dropped after one ballot and Trammell just ran out of time this past election). However, like Chance and Evers, Tinker was one of the weaker choices for the Hall of Fame. Unlike them, his selection was at least defensible.
Tinker played in 15 seasons, most of them in the Windy City. He hit .262/.308/.353 with a wRC+ of only 96 in 1800 games. He was a solid player, driving in over 700 runs and scoring a similar amount despite hitting in the lower half of the batting order. His offensive shortcomings were helped by being an adept runner. He stole over 300 bases and was worth 25.6 runs as a base runner according to Fangraphs.
Much like Bill Mazeroski and his double play partner Johnny Evers, it was on the strength of his glove work that he was inducted. And Tinker was one of the best defensive shortstops to ever play. He was worth almost 289 runs defensively, a number that still ranks 5th all-time for shortstops, and none of the players in front of him played during the Deadball Era.
Unfortunately, as great as he was with the glove, he wasn’t the best shortstop of his era. Many players, both in and out of the Hall of Fame, have better cases for that claim. One, of course, is Honus Wagner, who is probably still the best overall shortstop ever. Another is a lesser known player named George Davis (who is inducted in the Hall of Fame) who was worth 84.6 fWAR in his career and had a wRC+ of 118. Bobby Wallace and Bill Dahlen (who isn’t in the Hall of Fame for some reason) also posted better overall numbers than Tinker.
Tinker was one of the best defenders of all-time at one of the most difficult positions on the diamond, but his lackluster offense prevents him from being a great inductee.
Stay tuned for the next update.
On deck 8/9/16 This lefty for Atlanta won over 300 games.