Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Confidence bordering on obnoxiousness with Alomar, Dawson

Roberto Alomar and Andre Dawson, a Blue Jay and an Expo, forming the Baseball Hall of Fame's 2010 induction class — it could happen.
— some fat, dumb and bald guy this time last year
Thank goodness Cooperstown is only a four-hour drive from a border crossing, eh!

Roberto Alomar is overqualified for the Baseball Hall of Fame, if anything. It is almost like you can't feel an euphoria because it's his just desserts.

A gut feeling is he and Dawson receive somewhere around 80% support, which is all it takes. (Terence Moore, one U.S. columnist, says it will be only those two, apologies to Bert Blyleven if that is the case.)

Anyway, Stephen Brunt found the words to evoke the Blue Jays' early-1990s salad days and it is a must-read. Meantime, some Canadian OMDs have finally clued in about two years too late about Expos great Tim Raines' bona fides, and then there are those how try to be authoritative while misrepresenting the facts (Ryne Sandberg was elected in his third year on the ballot).

Throw in the late, great Tom Cheek finishing first in the fan balloting for the Ford C. Frick Award and well, Cooperstown could have that Canada-rama in August, which probably has the people at the Hall of Fame quaking a bit over their bottom line.

Alomar received 11-of-12 votes from staffers at the Chicago Tribune and USA Today, if that is any kind of straw poll.

Just for fun, here is a Keltner test for Alomar which should remove all doubt.

Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?

Some time around 1993, Sport magazine ran one of those Barry Bonds vs. Ken Griffey Jr. comparison articles that monthly sports magazines ran to compensate for the time lag (and you wonder why they folded). Tony La Russa said neither, Alomar was the best player in the game. And he's a genius.

Retrospectively speaking, Alomar topped the AL in win shares in 1992 (34) and 1999 (35). That's cribbed from a 2004 Matthew Namee article that notes that around '93, "with the possible exception of Barry Bonds, Roberto Alomar was the most complete package in baseball. He was a switch-hitter who hit for a great average, drew a bunch of walks, had good power. He stole a ton of bases and was rarely caught, and he was a Gold Glove middle infielder.

Was he the best player on his team?

He was the best player on the 1991, '92, and '95 Jays (the latter because someone had to be), the 1996 Baltimore Orioles and 1999 and 2001 Clevelands.

Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?

Yes. He won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves at second base (1991-2000) and added four Silver Slugger awards.

Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

He was on seven post-season teams during an 11-year stretch, plus a 90-win Cleveland team which fell one win short of the post-season in 2000.

The '00 Indians were a .500 team at the end of July. They went 40-22 (.645) across the last two months to almost catch the Oakland Athletics, with Alomar hitting a practically Pujolsian .370/.437/.557 to spur the charge.

In 1997, he hit .500/.532/.800 in September to help the Orioles finish two games ahead of the Yankees for the AL East flag.

Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?

No. The New York media has never let it drop that Alomar hit a wall at age 34 and endured "a discouraging turn with the Mets in 2002 and 2003, when he hit just .265 over 222 games." Ryne Sandberg was 34 when he quit the Chicago Cubs mid-season in 1994; he returned to play two middling seasons.

Is he the very best player in baseball history who is not in the Hall of Fame?

Toss-up between him and Raines.

Are most players who have comparable career statistics in the Hall of Fame?

Five of his 10 most comparable players
are in the Hall of Fame and the very much active Derek Jeter is one of the other five, so yes. Alomar and, wait for it, Tim Raines are the only post-1950 players with 1,500 runs scored who have not been inducted.

Do the player's numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?

Alomar's 193 on Bill James' HOF monitor is 47th-best all-time, the highest of anyone who played entirely in the expansion era and entirely at second base. (Joe Morgan is 60th.) Alomar is 50th in HOF standards, putting him in a class with Morgan and Craig Biggio.

Only Bonds scored more runs during Alomar's first 14 seasons in the majors (ESPN.com).

Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?

The fielding stats which are now taken for granted were not readily available in the 1990s. Alomar's fielding reputation might have been inflated, especially since he had benefit of playing more than half his games on artificial turf from 1991-95.

People over the last 10 years have accepted that stolen-base success rates are more important than just raw steal totals, so Alomar's 81% success rate counts for more than his total, 474.

Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame but not in?

Biggio is not yet eligible.

How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?

Put it this way: Dustin Pedroia was the American League MVP in 2008 as a second baseman who OPS-plused 122. Alomar had six seasons where he OPS-plused 129 or better, scored 100 runs and received a Gold Glove.

God only knows why he had little traction with MVP voters during his Toronto years, when he finished sixth three years in a row.

He never won the MVP Award. His best finish was third in 1999 (tied with Manny Ramirez and ahead of sixth-place Derek Jeter, who should have won), followed by a fourth in 2001. He also finished sixth from 1991-93 with the Jays, largely since the voters of the day tended to go for RBI guys.

How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the other players who played in this many go to the Hall of Fame?

He had 13 all-star type seasons, 1988 and 1990-2001. He was selected 12 times; in 1988 he had the best season ever by a 20-year-old second baseman (The Hardball Times), but was overlooked for the All-Star Game since he started the season in the minors and was playing for a going-nowhere San Diego Padres team.

Off-hand, the 12 appearances ranks well with several first-ballot inductees who played in the AL in the 1980s and '90s: George Brett made 13 all-star teams, then there are Wade Boggs (12), Dave Winfield (12), Rickey Henderson (10), Eddie Murray (8) and Paul Molitor (7). The other same-era second baseman who's in the Hall, Ryne Sandberg, had 10 selections. Barry Larkin played in 12, but one was a courtesy invite in his final season.

Most people who went to the All-Star Game as often as Alomar have gone to Hall of Fame, usually with not much debate.

If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?

The '91-92 Blue Jays each won 90-plus games and the AL East. The '96 Baltimore team, the first wild-card entry to win a playoff series, reached the American League championship series. In 1999, Alomar tied for third in MVP balloting while helping Cleveland to a 97-65 record one win off the AL's best.

What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?

None especially, although he was among the many great Puerto Rican players who have reshaped the sport. He would be the first elected (the late Roberto Clemente was a special case).

Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

Yeah, the spitting incident. Only two lives were really affected by it and John Hirschbeck moved on long ago, telling the New York Daily News recently, "It's long over with and a lot more good has come out of it than you can ever believe. If that was to cost Robbie the Hall of Fame, I would feel awful."

1 comment:

eyebleaf said...

Great post, Neate. Long live Robbie.