Year Inducted: 2011 (BBWAA, ballot #2, 523/581)
There are times when baseball seems to run in the family. Luis Aparicio’s father was a star player in his native country before teams were scouting the Carribean nations for talent. The Boone family is famous for having several members play in the majors, as are the Bell and Alou families. But, none of those families got a player to the Hall of Fame. The Alomar clan, thanks to the skill of Roberto, can boast that triumph.
Alomar spent most of his 17 year career as the top second baseman in the American League, if not all of baseball (as Craig Biggio was the only true threat to him as top dog). In his career, Alomar hit .300/.371/.443 with a wRC+ of 118. Alomar collected 504 doubles, 80 triples and 210 homers. Alomar deployed a rare combination of speed and power for a second baseman, helping him drive in over 1100 runs and score over 1500 runs while swiping nearly 500 bases. While early in his career he was a solidly above average to great defender, age and years on the Toronto turf took a bit of a toll on his defensive numbers so he grades out as only a +15 defensive run second baseman, a respectable total.
Alomar is one of four second basemen ever to have over 200 homers, 1000 walks, 1000 RBI and 1000 runs scored along with Rogers Hornsby, Lou Whitaker (why isn’t he in the Hall of Fame?) and Joe Morgan. Alomar was a similar player to both Whitaker and Morgan, providing solid defense, baserunning and offense to a difficult position on the field for a long time.
Alomar’s sharp and sudden decline phase hurts some of his overall numbers. He had an incredibly long peak. From 1988 until 2001, Alomar was worth more than 2.0 fWAR each year, with dips during the strike-shortened seasons of 1994-1995. Then, upon being traded to the Mets before the 2002 season, he declined rapidly. In 2001 he had a wRC+ of 151, and in 2002 he was at 91, a 60-point swing. The following two seasons he dipped down to an 81 wRC+ before retiring. A drop that sudden can have a decent impact on a player’s career numbers-Alomar included. His insanely long peak saw him post a wRC+ of 123 and a fWAR of 62.6 (with missing big chunks of two seasons due to labor strife). His final 3 years saw him put up a fWAR of only 1.0 and a wRC+ of only 86. The decline was brief as Alomar kept trying to extend his career to reach 3000 hits, but it did have an impact on his value.
When he first appeared on a ballot, most people believed that Alomar would gain induction handily. However, some people in the BBWAA started to remind everyone that he spit on John Hirshbeck, an umpire, once as a member of the Orioles and he shouldn’t get induction on the first ballot due to the character clause in the voting guidelines. As a result, he fell just short of induction in his first year, and got a sizeable bump in his second year (from less than 74% to 90% his second year). While that was a disgusting incident, one mistake shouldn’t mar an otherwise excellent career; Alomar was a top-10 second baseman of all-time and deserved first ballot induction.
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