The DNR 25: No. 8: Lou Whitaker

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The DNR 25:  No. 8: Lou Whitaker
Full Name
Louis Rodman Whitaker

DOB
5/12/57

College
None (Martinsville High School, Martinsville, VA)

Drafted
1975, 5th Round, Detroit Tigers

MLB Seasons
1977-1995

Tiger Seasons
1977-1995

Career Stats
.276 Avg, 244 HR, 1084 RBI, .789 OPS, 116 OPS+

Career Leaderboard
5 time All-Star (1983-1987) 
3 Gold Gloves (1983-1985)
4 Silver sluggers (1983-1985, 1987) 
1978 AL Rookie of the Year

 

Best Tiger Season

Wow.  Of all of the Tigers on this list so far, picking out Lou’s best season is the toughest.  You can make a decent case for several of Whitaker’s campaigns.  But I’m going to go with 1983 as Lou’s best all-around year.
In ’83, "Sweetness" hit a career high .320 with 12 homers and 72 RBI.  He played in a career high 161 games and had an OPS of .837 and an OPS+ of 133 while adding 40 doubles, also a career high. 
This was well before he became more of a power threat late in his career.  He finished 8th in the MVP voting in ’83, won his first Gold Glove, played in his first All-Star game, was third in the league in batting average, third in hits, and fifth in runs created.

 

Little Known Fact

At the 1985 All-Star Game, Lou forgot to pack his jersey.  Not realizing it until just before the start of the game, he had to make due with whatever replica merchandise he could find on sale at the park.  He found an adjustable mesh hat and a blank Tigers jersey that he wrote his No. 1 on the back of with a black magic marker.  The jersey is still on display at the Smithsonian to this day.

 

Reason For Being On The List

Well, what Tiger fan isn’t a fan of Sweet Lou?  Of course he was going to be on this list.  My first ten years as a baseball fan were spent watching the man play and it was a pleasure.  From 1977 to 1995, he and Alan Trammell were the faces of the Tiger franchise.  Don’t believe me?  Check out Magnum P.I.

He was Awesome.  With his combination of being able to get on base, hit for occasional power, sweet glove, and his quiet way of playing the game the right way, Lou will always be a favorite of mine.

 

What Happened To Him? (Since Retiring)

Lou has stayed out of the spotlight since retiring.  He got shafted in the Hall of Fame voting, in many people’s opinion.  His numbers are very close to Ryne Sandberg’s (and many other HOF second basemen), but Lou barely got a glance from Hall voters when it was his time.  Whether it was playing in Detroit, his non-reporter friendly attitude, or whatever, Lou has really never gotten his due for the contributions he made to the game.

Greg Eno wrote a great piece on Whitaker that you can read at his site, if you missed it.  Scroll down to the 1/27/10 piece.

I look forward to the day that the Tigers finally retire Lou's number.  Hopefully, they can get him and Trammell together to retire them both at the same time.   It's only right.

Info ripped off of baseball-reference.com and Wikipedia.
Pic via Google.
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