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Lou Whitaker

Lou Whitaker

Position(s):
2B, DH
Nicknames:
Sweet Lou
Born:
May 12, 1957
Bats:
Left
Throws:
Right
Height:
5' 11"
Weight:
160 lbs
Major League Debut:
9-09-1977 with DET
Allstar Selections:
1978 ROOK, 1983 GG, 1983 SS, 1984 GG, 1984 SS, 1985 GG, 1985 SS, 1987 SS

Lou Whitaker

Lou Whitaker

Soft-spoken Lou Whitaker was a gold glove second baseman who performed near the top of his position for nearly two decades, and teamed with Alan Trammell to form the longest running double play combination in history. Whitaker was a leadoff man with power, decent speed, and good pitch-selection at the plate. His arm was considered one of the best in the game and he was adept at making the pivot. "Sweet Lou" made plays look so easy he was often accused of being lackadaisical.

Career Batting Stats
G AB H R HR RBI SB AVG SLG OBP OPS OPS+
2390 8570 2369 1386 244 1084 143 .276 .426 .363 .789 107.9

Quotes From Lou Whitaker

"I said a long time ago, if I didn’t make it my first time, don’t bring my name back up. I never think about it. The thing is, it had nothing to do with what major league ballplayers thought of me - they knew I was a winning ballplayer. I’m proud of that." — Whitaker on his failure to earn enough votes to stay on the Hall of Fame ballot in his first year of eligibility

 

Where does Lou Whitaker rank among baseball greats?

Lou Whitaker ranks among the Top 50 all-time at 2B.
 

Lou Whitaker All Time Teammates!

 

 

Best Season: 1983
"Sweet Lou" batted .320 and became the first left-handed batting Tiger to collect 200 hits since Charlie Gehringer.

 

Detroit's Double Play Twins
Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell gradually evolved into separate individuals, but for many years the two had eerily similar career totals. Through 1986 Trammell had 1,289 games, Whitaker had played in 1,283. The two were within 75 at-bats, 20 hits, 22 runs, three homers, 18 RBI, and 31 total bases of each other. Their career batting average was .281 and their slugging percentages were .403 (Trammell), and .404 (Whitaker). Trammell's MVP-type '87 season helped start the divide between the two. As they grew older Lou hit more homers, scored more runs, and stole fewer bases. Trammell hit for higher average, collected more doubles, and played fewer games, due to injury.

Oops!
At 1983's All-Star Game, Whitaker's equipment failed to arrive in Chicago. He was forced to wear a teammates spikes, a Cleveland Indians batting helmet, and a souvenir Tiger jersey bought from a vendor, with his #1 written on the back in black marker.

Description
Whitaker was a slender, almost tiny man when he came up. He always had a rocket arm, which belied his small stature. Gradually, he added weight and started to hit balls out of the park. That might have been one of the worst things he could have done. At some point, he made the decision that he would sacrifice batting average for power. Afterall, Whitaker probably reasoned, home run hitters drive Cadillacs. But the decision was foolish. Whitaker would have been better off taking a few more pitches, working the count, and batting for a batter average at the top of the lineup. Countless times, with the game out of hand, Sweet Lou would hack at the first pitch, trying to jerk it into the right field seats. His at-bat over, he'd jog to the dugout. Whatever it is that some ballplayers have that drives them to fight for every hit, every groundball, every out, Whitaker didn't have it. When the game was on the line, he was tough. But when it didn't matter, Whitaker all-too-often phoned it in.

 

Scouting Report
"Has learned to hit the outside pitch to left field, the fastball up the middle, and any pitch he can handle to right… has become patient while not losing his aggression with the bat… loves fastballs up and over the plate… Needs work on sliding, which costs him a step or two… Superb range to his left or right, excellent on pivoting while turning the double play, good arm." — from the 1984 Scouting Report

Where He Played
Whitaker never played an inning anywhere else than second base... Whitaker relied heavily on instincts in the field. One longtime teammate explained that Whitaker never tried to get the signals from the catcher to help position himself at second base. Lou rarely dove for balls. Despite his casual approach, Whitaker earned three Gold Gloves.

Born
Louis Rodman (Jr.) Whitaker was born on May 12, 1957, in Brooklyn, NY.

 

 

 

Major League Debut
September 9,1977

Nine Other Players Who Debuted in 1977
Eddie Murray
Lou Whitaker
Alan Trammell
Jack Morris
Lance Parrish
Dale Berra
Bump Wills
Rick Honeycutt
Willie Hernandez

Nicknames
Sweet Lou

 

Uniform Numbers
#1 (1977-1995)

 

Similar Players
Alan Trammell, Ryne Sandberg


 

Related Players
Alan Trammell, Charlie Gehringer... Chet Lemon was Lou's best friend on the Tigers.

 

Hall of Fame Voting
Year Election Votes Pct
2001 BBWAA 15 2.9%

 

Post-Season Appearances
1984 American League Championship Series
1984 World Series
1987 American League Championship Series

 

Awards and Honors
1978 AL Rookie of the Year
1983 AL Gold Glove
1984 AL Gold Glove
1985 AL Gold Glove

 

Feats
In 1983 he became the first left-handed hitting Tiger to collect 200 hits in 46 years (Charlie Gehringer)... On May 4, 1994, Whitaker belted a three-run homer and a grand slam against the Rangers at Tiger Stadium, plating a personal-best seven runs... Whitaker's four inside-the-park home runs are a Tiger record, eclipsing the old mark held by Ty Cobb.

Transactions
Drafted in the fifth round by the Tigers in the 1975 June Draft; November 2, 1992: Granted Free Agency; December 7, 1992: Signed as a Free Agent with the Detroit Tigers; November 7, 1995: Granted Free Agency.

Whitaker nearly left the Tigers after the 1992 season as a free agent. His likely destination was Atlanta, where he was courted by the Braves, including former Tiger GM Bill Lajoie. But he eventually decided to stay with the Tigers, signing a three-year, $7.5 million deal.

All-Star Selections
1983 AL
1984 AL
1985 AL
1986 AL
1987 AL

Replaced
He beat out Steve Dillard early in 1978 for the starting second base job. In 1977, the Tigers had fielded renegade Tito Fuentes at that position.

Replaced By
Mark Lewis, a journeyman infielder with more offensive punch than defensive ability. Lewis played second for Detroit in 1996, the year after "Sweet Lou" retired. In his last few years in uniform, Whitaker was essentially platooned, starting against right-handers. Tony Phillips, Chris Gomez, and Scott Fletcher split time with the veteran.

Best Strength as a Player
His throwing arm and overall athletic ability.

Largest Weakness as a Player
Whitaker is one of the few players in baseball history to play as many as 2,000 games while having platoon-offensive skills for much of his career. For some reason, beginning in 1984, Lou couldn't hit lefties. He batted below .235 against them for the balance of his career, and in his last four seasons he rarely faced southpaws.

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Tagged:
1984 World Series, Alan Trammell, Detroit Tigers, Gold Glove, Lou Whitaker, Rookie of the Year Award, Sparky Anderson
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