Sunday, March 20, 2005

 

Farewell to Alomar

Robert Alomar announced his retirement yesterday, ending his 17 year career. His last good season was in 2001, and he had been drifting from team to team the past few seasons, but that should not take away from what is essentially a Hall of Fame career. Alomar is one of the best second basemen of all time, and probably the second best of his time next to Craig Biggio. Alomar amassed 2724 hits, 210 homeruns, 474 steals, a .300/.371/.443 line, and 10 Gold Gloves. He also won four Silver Slugger awards for being the best hitter at his position at different intervals in his career. Oddly enough, the most similar batter to him in his career is Craig Biggio (using Baseball-Reference's Similarity Scores). Lou Whitaker, Frankie Frisch, Barry Larkin, Ryne Sandberg, and Joe Morgan are a few other comparable players. Frisch, Sandberg and Morgan are Hall of Famers, and Larkin should be, as well as Biggio. So sufice to say, his chances are pretty good at getting in. Unless of course he runs into a problem that Larkin very well may face.

Alomar's last few seasons (2002-2004) were mired in an inability to play at a high level like he always had. He was handed a big contract that didn't pan out as well as all the teams that acquired him hoped, and he was labeled a disapointment as of late. Hopefully this is not the image of Alomar that sticks in the BBWAA writers minds when they vote in elections 5 years from now. One more issue for Alomar, as far as being a first ballot Hall of Famer goes. He and Larkin both retired in 2005, (or do they count that as 2004, since that is the last official season they played? Someone help me with that one) so they will go on the ballot together. This should not hurt their chances in the long run, but it may keep both of them from being first ballot HOF'ers. Larkin's chances are already hurt by an injury mired last few seasons (except 2004) where he and the Reds were criticized often by the media and fans alike.

The only reason I worry for Alomar in the slightest is because of Lou Whitaker's inability to garner any vote support on the ballot. He is second in similarity score to Alomar, and his career line .276/.363/.426 is very good for a second basemen, especially in the 80's before Jeff Kent and Craig Biggio and Alomar really got going. Maybe Joe Morgan's fine career has ruined it for everyone who isn't Joe Morgan at the second base position. I hope not, considering we have some excellent second basemen on their way to the Hall of Fame within the next 10 years.

Let's take a look at some other second basemen who should retire within the next 5 years and merit some attention as possible Hall of Famers.

Jeff Kent: 36 years old, 1910 hits, 302 HR's, .289/.352/.505, 2000 MVP. Kent needs a few more seasons like last year if he is to have any chance, because for some reason he seems to be in the shadows when it comes to media admiration. He has 302 HR's in 13 seasons as a second basemen; Alomar and Biggio haven't hit that total (although they do other things in their games as well) in 17 seasons, and Joe Morgan hit 268 in 22 years. Kent might have to get really close to 400 if he plans on making a trip to Cooperstown when he retires. An average of 20 over the next 4 years would really help, and one last big season (while I wouldn't count on it) would be extremely helpful to his chances.

Craig Biggio: 38 years old, 2639 hits, 234 HR's, .286/.373/.435, 2 top ten MVP finishes, and according to Bill James, the 35th best player in baseball history back in 2000. Also considered the 5th best second basemen of all time. This was 4 seasons ago, and while Biggio's supreme air of greatness may have worn off some (especially with the OF experiment) his career numbers have been padded in the counting stats. A virtual lock as a Hall of Famer; if not, I will never recognize another Hall of Fame vote again. They could anoint Tim Wakefield as the greatest knuckleballer of all-time and I'd spit in their faces...awkward I said that during an Alomar article huh? Didn't even mean to. Let's put it this way...Jeff Bagwell is a Hall of Famer at first base, and Biggio is even better.

Bret Boone, 35 years old, 1703 hits, 245 HR's, .268/.327/.447, third place MVP finish in 2001. I don't think Boone really has a chance at making it. The only reason I included him is incase he continues a late career surge (with the exception of last year, which may have signaled his decline stage). If he does happen to add 3-4 more seasons that look like 2002 or 2003, than you may have a case for him. The problem is, he probably won't. I just wanted to cover my ass incase he does.

I want to run a prediction for around 20 years from now (or more) and say I think Marcus Giles will develop into a Hall of Fame caliber second basemen...if he doesn't kill himself on the basepaths first. He is a perennial all-star and eventual MVP winner waiting to happen. He could easily become a Craig Biggio or Robert Alomar type and cruise into the HOF in 20 years. I'm also not just saying this because I love the Giles boys; I think he is capable of being a much better player than Brian Giles overall, and considering his peak, that is saying something nice.

If you have anyone else you'd like to add to the discussion I'd love to hear from you.


Comments:
All I have to say is Alomar deserves the Hall of Fame if for nothing else then the home run he hit off Eckersley in the '93 playoffs.
 
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