From now until the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2010 is announced, The Hall is going to be breaking down each candidate. Some write ups will be lengthy...some will be the opposite. Some will be brand new pieces...some will be re-hashes of previous pieces.
For the most part...this is the latter.
Dear Readers…truth or dare?
Dare you say?
Fair enough. I want you to go outside RIGHT NOW and ask the first person you see who the best second baseman was over the last quarter century. And when they answer “Ryne Sandberg”…punch them in the face.
Why? They’re lying to you.
Unquestionably, Ryno was good. But he isn’t the BEST to play the position this side of 1980.
I know, I know…Sandberg was the MVP in 1984. At one time, he had the most home runs by a second baseman and in the field, he nabbed nine straight Gold Gloves.
He was pretty good.
But Roberto Alomar was better. Hands down.
Matter of fact, he might be the best modern day second baseman...even though Joe Morgan would tell you otherwise.
Some people might even go on to tell you that Alomar wasn’t ever the best player on the field for any of the seven teams he played for. Much like Morgan, I’d tell you that neither were Craig Biggio and Jeff Kent and they’re both Hall of Fame caliber middle infielders.
And yes...I mean THAT Jeff Kent.
Let’s break this down…plain and simple.
The case for Alomar is an easy one…even easier when compared to the most recent Hall inductee at second base, Ryne Sandberg.
Here ya go:
Alomar went to twelve straight All-Star games (nine as a starter), compared to Ryno’s ten. Incidentally, his ten Gold Gloves over a span of eleven years is the most ever by a second baseman.
His .984 fielding percentage is a hair behind Sandberg’s .989.
His 2724 hits (and career .300 batting average) is the most by any every day second baseman since Charlie Gehringer’s 2839. Gehringer was inducted in 1949. FYI…Sandberg finished with 2386 and a .285 batting average.
Even, Alomar’s OPS+ (a stat that I am not that high on, but some people are) of 116 is smack dab in the middle of the pack when you look at those already enshrined. For the record, Sandberg’s was 114. Joe Morgan...a surprising 132.
Alomar even slugged .347 in back to back World Series victories for the Blue Jays
And yes, for every “case for”…there is a case against:
Alomar lacks an identity. His longest stint with any team was five years with the Blue Jays.
As mentioned, Alomar was overshadowed on nearly every team he played for (Tony Gwynn in San Diego, Joe Carter in Toronto, Cal Ripken in Baltimore, Albert Belle and Manny Ramirez in Cleveland).
In this, his first year on the ballot, he's up against Bert Blyleven, Tim Raines, Barry Larkin, Fred McGriff and Edgar Martinez. Granted, they’re not all Hall of Famers…but they’ll garner some attention and steal (pun intended in Raines' case) some votes.
And, unfortunately, the spitting incident with umpire John Hirshbeck.
Alomar was the type of player that, because he was so damn solid for nearly 17 seasons…people forget that he was a hitting machine. From his second year in the majors (1989) until 2001, Alomar hit under .295 only twice. He even had an impressive run of nine out of ten years where he hit .300 or better.
Open your doors for Robbie, Cooperstown, I’ll be watching...all the while knowing that the best second baseman I ever saw play is getting his just desserts.