December 22, 2014

Where’s Robbie?

January 7, 2010 by · 4 Comments 

“Roberto Alomar, arguably one of the greatest second basemen to ever play the game didn’t garner the necessary 75% of voters needed.

I don’t get it.”

Before I begin, I mean what follows to be in no way a slight on the career of Andre Dawson.  When I was growing up, Dawson was one of the first players who didn’t play in my hometown that I became aware of.  I loved watching his power.  It was an incredible sight when he uncorked that cannon of an arm.  He retired in 1996, and, knowing that he was a borderline Hall-of-Fame candidate, I waited patiently for the day that he would take his rightful place in Cooperstown.

This past Tuesday, that day came.  The Baseball Writers of America voted to elect Andre Dawson to the Hall of Fame.  The only problem?  He went in alone.

Roberto Alomar, arguably one of the greatest second basemen to ever play the game didn’t garner the necessary 75% of voters needed.

I don’t get it.

As a Yankee fan, Alomar’s unique combination of speed, power, and defense terrified me.  Rightfully so.  In his seventeen seasons, Alomar batted .314 against New York.  He amassed a .375 OBP, knocked 148 hits, scored 89 runs, knocked in 67, and popped 32 doubles.  His success against the Yankees was a microcosm for the type of achievement that characterized Alomar’s entire career.

Over seventeen seasons, Alomar’s numbers speak for themselves: .300 batting average, .371 OBP, 2724 hits, 1508 runs, 210 HR, 504 doubles, 1134 RBI, and 474 SB.  On top of all that, Alomar was voted to twelve All-Star games.  He won ten Gold Gloves, four Silver Sluggers, and two World Series titles.  In 1999, Roberto Alomar led the American League with 138 runs scored.  For a decade, Alomar was the best second baseman in baseball.

Yet, he’s somehow not a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer.

Take a look at how Alomar stacks up against his historical peers.  Some of the recent second basemen inducted into the Hall of Fame are Ryne Sandberg, Joe Morgan, and Rod Carew.  Sandberg retired after the 1997 and was inducted in 2005.  Compared with Alomar, in 16 seasons, Sandberg only accrued more homers (282), while totaling a lower batting average (.285) and OBP (.344), less hits (2386), runs (1318), RBI (1061), doubles (403), and stolen bases (344).  In 19 seasons, Carew, a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, built up a higher batting average (.328), OBP (.393), and number of hits (3053), but he accumulated less runs (1424), homers (92), doubles (445), RBI (1015), and stolen bases (187).  In his twenty-two seasons, Morgan surpassed Alomar in runs (1650), homers (268), stolen bases (689), and OBP (.392), while falling short in the categories of batting average (.271), total hits (2517), doubles (449), and RBI (1133).

Perhaps Alomar’s lack of an MVP award separates him from the list of second baseman above?  Sandberg won his MVP in 1984, Carew in 1977, and Morgan garnered two consecutive titles in 1975 and 1976.

To this argument, I submit Bill Mazeroski.  Alomar far exceeds Mazeroski in all categories: .260 average, .299 OBP, 2016 hits, 769 runs, 138 HR, 294 doubles, 853 RBI, and 27 stolen bases.  Mazeroski may have won a World Series game with a home run, but he never won an MVP.  Yet, after waiting 29 years, he can add “Hall-of-Fame baseball player” to his résumé.  Roberto Alomar can’t.

Maybe the incident where Alomar spit on umpire John Hirschbeck blocks the second baseman’s path to Cooperstown?  However, men of questionable ethics and character proudly line the venerable walls of the Hall of Fame.  Ty Cobb, who received more votes than any other man on the inaugural Hall of Fame ballot, was a dyspeptic and violent bigot, equally famous for using his spikes to tear up the shins and calves of opposing middle infielder as he was for his excellence as a ball player.  Juan Marichal, often touted as a bastion of pitching excellence, beat an opposing pitcher with a bat a la Robert DeNiro in The Untouchables.

To paraphrase Denzel Washington in Philadelphia, explain this to me like I’m a five year old.  Roberto Alomar is generally agreed to be one of the greatest second basemen of all time.  His career numbers exist on a level either equal to or above those of Hall-of-Famers who played his position.  Yet, he falls short of the Hall by less than 2% of the votes?

Ultimately, I’m sure Alomar will make it to Cooperstown.  He just shouldn’t have to wait 29 years to do so.

Comments

4 Responses to “Where’s Robbie?”
  1. Ted Leavengood says:

    I couldn’t agree more. One difference is how much Dawson has cultivated a positive image of himself–which is not to say he’s not a great guy in reality, but I think he has worked harder for it than Alomar has.

    I talked to the Hawk at an autograph signing in Bowie, MD in 2000. He seemed to actually enjoy or genially put up with the gig. He sat at a card table on the main concourse at a double-A stadium where there were fewer than 2,000 fans in attendance. I asked him to sign a program, “To Claire, Your father is always right. Listen to him, Andre Dawson.” He smiled and wrote it out just the way I asked.

    Alomar, especially given the spitting incident, needs to polish his image. The whole image industry is phoney baloney. But you cannot avoid forming opinions of players based on how they handle the public. Robbie Alomar who could use a little more positive spin, but doesn’t seem to be out there creating it.

  2. Cary says:

    OK, Josh lil’ buddy, here’s your kindergarten-level explanation: He SPIT IN THE FACE of an UMPIRE. If conduct didn’t influence voters, you’d have a different Hall. Dick Allen, who is the most glaring example, may never take his rightful place among his much less savory peers like Cobb, because he didn’t play nice with the vain, entitled, sportswriter elite. This is Robbie’s slap on the wrist for acting like a spoiled kid. He’ll be in, like you said. I’m a little surprised he got as close as he did the first time around.

  3. Josh Deitch says:

    @Cary
    1) Condescension duly noted…
    2) Last I checked, player popularity was not a criteria for being inducted into the HOF. Silly me, I thought the HOF was reserved for the individuals who excelled at the craft of baseball in a timeless manner.
    3) This may be the overall issue–why does the BBWA decide who gets in initially? Thirty years ago, fine. Writers weren’t extraneous. They were the people who could sit with the players and get inside info over beers, good cigars, and T-Bone steaks. Now, with a 24 hour news cycle, twitter, facebook, blogs, etc., the players furnish the inside info themselves. The average guy on the street sometimes knows more about his favorite team than a beat writer. So, why not just let the veterans take over the induction process, instead of leaving it in the hands of people who are bitter over the fact that they were once the elite and are moving towards obsolesence?

  4. Mike Hoban says:

    Should Roberto Alomar have been a first round selection for the Hall? YES.

    Should we get VERY upset because he did not make it? NO. He will get in next year.

    If you REALLY want to get excited about a great player being mistreated by the writers, try Bert Blyleven, Dick Allen or Tim Raines.

    Mike Hoban

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