Trammell and Lou Whitaker formed a keystone combination that surpassed all others in consecutive years together, yet Alan emerged as the acknowledged leader of the Tigers. After a Most Valuable Player year (1977) in the Southern League, the righthander graduated to the Tigers. Slight of build, Trammell proved a complete offensive and defensive player. He led the AL in sacrifice hits in 1981 and 1983. After an off-season in 1982, he was AL Comeback Player of the Year in 1983 at age 25. His 30 steals in 1983 were the most for a Detroit shortstop since 1917 and his .319 batting average was best among all AL righthanders. The Tigers reeled off 11 straight winning seasons with Trammell at shortstop. He was voted smartest and best defensive infielder by AL managers in 1984, drove in all of Detroit’s runs in Game Four of the World Series, tied a five-game Series record with nine hits, and was named Series MVP.
A persistent elbow injury, first suffered in 1983, threatened Trammell’s stardom. After a subpar 1985, a more muscular Trammell helped Detroit have an all-20 home run infield in 1986. Surprisingly, Sparky Anderson moved Trammell to the cleanup spot in Detroit’s 1987 offense. The once-scrawny infielder rose to the occasion with a career season, hitting .343 with 28 HR, 105 RBI, 205 hits, and 109 runs. He narrowly missed the league MVP award. Part of an era of shortstops that includes Ozzie Smith, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Robin Yount, Trammell has held his own in all-around ability. He is among Detroit’s all-time leaders in doubles, runs scored, hits, and stolen bases.