"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

The Envelope, Please…


Joe Pos makes a strong case for Robbie Alomar, Hall of Famer:

Alomar, to me, has a case as the greatest second baseman since Hornsby. I am not the best person to make that case — I, of course, happen to think that Joe Morgan is the greatest second baseman since Hornsby. But I could give it a try: Alomar won 10 Gold Gloves — more than any second baseman — and I think he was probably slightly better defensively than Morgan. He hit .300 for his career, walked just about as often as he struck out, hit double-digit home runs nine times, stole 30 or more bases eight times and was a terrific postseason player (.313 postseason average, .347 in his two World Series victories). He had his best year at age 33 in Cleveland — he could have won the MVP that year. He did get traded to the Mets, where he finished off with three uninspiring years, and he retired at 36. So he did not get the number bump that so many players get in their later years.

Still, it’s hard to imagine a much better Hall of Fame case — a great fielding, great hitting, great running second baseman.

But…I sense no buzz about Alomar’s candidacy. I guess there are a couple of reasons for this. There was the spitting incident back in 1996 … he spit in the face of umpire John Hirschbeck. And then, post-career, an ex-girlfriend filed a civil suit alleging that Alomar had unprotected sex with her despite having AIDS. Alomar denied that he has AIDS. This, of course, should have nothing at all to do with his Hall of Fame candidacy, but when a player has some sort of controversy swirling around, it probably does affect the way people think about him.

And then…Alomar seems to be another player who was probably better than many people seemed to think when he was a player. Well, no, that’s not exactly right — he made 12 All-Star Games (10 as a starter) and won all those Gold Gloves and was top 6 MVP five times. So people did know of his brilliance while he was playing. It just seems like he was someone who did not stick in people’s minds.

To sum up: Alomar won more Gold Gloves than Sandberg, Mazeroski, White or any other second baseman. He also cracked 2,724 hits — more than any second baseman since World War II (Craig Biggio got more hits, but he spent quite a bit of time at other positions). He hit more than 500 doubles. He’s one of only two players in baseball history to hit .300 with 200 homers and 400 stolen bases — the other is first ballot Hall of Famer Paul Molitor who, as mentioned, spent most of his career as a DH.

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1 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 16, 2009 2:22 pm

What is happening to JoePo? First he has a very poorly reasoned payroll article, and now he gives us reasons like "Alomar won 10 Gold Gloves" and "He hit .300 for his career"? Pos has been at the forefront of arguing against Gold Glove process, so it doesn't make sense to cite it now in making a hall of fame argument. Also, using batting average is something he'd get on Murray Chass for doing.

As I mentioned in the previous thread, the case for Alomar is strong, but it is far from a slam dunk...and foolish if it tries to suggest he is the greatest 2B since Hornsby.

2 RagingTartabull   ~  Nov 16, 2009 3:01 pm

[1] I doubt he's the best, but I'll say I'd definitely take him over Sandberg and quite possibly over Carew

3 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 16, 2009 3:05 pm

Aside from Joe Morgan, who I think is the best 2B since Hornsby and vastly superior to Alomar, other former 2B who have arguably been better than Alomar include (Carew not included because he split his career at 1B): Utley, Gehringer, Whitaker, Kent, Gordon and Grich.

Bobby Grich and Whitaker are perhaps the most interesting comparisons because they were somewhat contemporary and aren't in the Hall of Fame.

Of the three, Grich had the highest OPS+ at 125, while Whitaker may have had the best peak. I don't think you can argue that Alomar is much better than Grich or Whitaker...if he was even better at all.

4 monkeypants   ~  Nov 16, 2009 3:06 pm

[1] Well, we have to agree to disagree--he is pretty much a slam dunk HOFer in my book. I just don't see how a middle IF with about 15 years in the bigs, an .800+ OPS, 400+ SB, and a reputation for fine defense (even if we grant that it is likely exaggerated) is NOT a slam dunk HOFer.

If we are bickering about whether he or Biggio or Kent were the best at the position in the 1990s---as we were last relevant thread---then that sure looks like a no doubter to me.

How about this, what would be the argument AGAINST him?

5 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 16, 2009 3:07 pm

[2] Sandberg is debateable, but close. Carew, however, is much better. If you look at his years as a 2B, it blows everyone out the water. Alomar isn't even in his class, but I eliminated from the equation because he played so much at 1B.

6 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 16, 2009 3:12 pm

[4] Then explain Grich and Whitaker? I am not trying to make a case against him being in the Hall of Fame. Just point out that he wasn't a great hitter (just great for a 2B), didn't have a long career and didn't have a high peak. He was a good to very good player for about 10 years, which at 2B is probably a Hall of Famer, but hasn't been for other similar players. Also, remember, Sandberg took a few ballots before he got in, so he wasn't a slam dunk either.

7 RagingTartabull   ~  Nov 16, 2009 3:16 pm

[5] Just sticking with the more recent guys (I like Gordon, but I always feel a little off comparing such vastly different eras) I can see Kent. But Utley and Grich are a bit of a stretch.

Utley I think can get there, but its just too early right now. Grich meanwhile badly trails Alomar in average, hits, runs scored, RBI's, stolen bases, games played, and has an OPS 20 points lower than Alomar. Grich was a hell of a good player, but he was not better than Alomar.

8 RagingTartabull   ~  Nov 16, 2009 3:17 pm

and yes I realize Grich has a higher OPS+, but I'm not saying Alomar was better than him in every single facet of the game...just overall.

9 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 16, 2009 3:17 pm

[7] Grich's OPS+ is 125 to Alomar's 116. I think that is more relevant than the counting stats for obvious reasons.

10 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 16, 2009 3:18 pm

[8] But if Grich was a significantly better hitter (by OPS+) and was also a gold glove defender, what exactly did Alomar do better?

11 RagingTartabull   ~  Nov 16, 2009 3:26 pm

[10] but OPS+ isn't a perfect barometer, we all know that. Its a perfectly good metric, but I don't think its a deal-breaker.

Alomar was more durable, had more total bases, hit for higher average with more power, and was a much better postseason hitter. I'm not saying these are perfect barometers either but they gotta count for something.

12 RagingTartabull   ~  Nov 16, 2009 3:27 pm

and understand this is not me ripping on OPS+, I like the stat. I just don't think "well he had a higer OPS+ so case closed"

13 monkeypants   ~  Nov 16, 2009 3:30 pm

[6] I don't know much about Grich. Whittaker (and Trammell) have been screwed. Moreover, one of the principal arguments in favor of Alomar (and Whittaker and others) is how under-represented certain positions are.

As I see it, if you are one of the few very best at your position in a given era, for a long time, then you are a HOFer. So maybe Grich deserves to get in for an earlier period, but so too does Alomar. The only exception to this would be in some bizarre era if a given position were historically bad such that no player really deserved to get in the HOF. But I don't see that with the 1990s.

14 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 16, 2009 3:33 pm

[11] It's not perfect, but probably better than comparing unadjusted counting stats. Other more advanced stats are "better", but OPS+ is easily accessible.

Alomar's advantage over Grich is a few seasons worth of more PAs, but I think the point is that a case can be made either way as to who was the better player (by the way, if you believe in it, RF/G rates Grich higher than Alomar). My whole argument is Alomar isn't a no-brainer, so if it is possible to make the case for Sandberg, Grich or Whitaker as being a better player, then it's hard to say Alomar is a slam dunk.

15 monkeypants   ~  Nov 16, 2009 3:34 pm

[10] and was also a gold glove defender

wellll....he won it four times, to Alomar's ten. Now, GG is pretty flawed, but if we are going to invoke it, it is hard to argue against Alomar having the better *reputation* at defense.

16 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 16, 2009 3:37 pm

[13] I don't think you can simply call someone the best of his era and elect him to the Hall of Fame. You also have to consider the competition. Besides, you can still argue that Sandberg, Whitaker, Biggio or Kent were better.

17 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 16, 2009 3:41 pm

[15] To things contributed to Grich only having 4 gold gloves. The first was he stopped winning them as soon as he moved to California (coincidence?). The second is Frank White started winning them. White wasn't much of a hitter, but his defensive reputation was top notch. I can't think of anyone during Alomar's time that pushed him for that gold glove, which means the voters probably went on autopilot.

18 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 16, 2009 3:47 pm

From Jay Jaffe, here is a look at HoF eligible 2B according to his Jaws system.

Grich ranks 6th among 2B all time, while Alomar comes in 11th, just ahead of Sandberg, but behind contemporaries Whitaker and Biggio. Also, according to Jaffe's numbers, Alomar would rank as a below average Hall of Fame 2B (which could mean the standard for HoF 2B has been too high).

Player Career Peak JAWS
Eddie Collins 137.9 72.7 105.3*
Rogers Hornsby 128.6 76.6 102.6*
Joe Morgan 127.5 73.5 100.5*
Nap Lajoie 125.7 71.7 98.7*
Bobby Grich 92.3 63.6 78.0
Lou Whitaker 103.4 51.6 77.5
Craig Biggio 90.0 55.0 72.5
Rod Carew 86.1 53.0 69.6*
Charlie Gehringer 84.8 54.2 69.5*
Frankie Frisch 83.3 50.1 66.7*
Roberto Alomar 81.0 51.8 66.4
Ryne Sandberg 75.6 56.4 66.0*
Billy Herman 77.8 51.2 64.5**
Jeff Kent 80.1 47.9 64.0
Jackie Robinson 68.0 57.5 62.8*
Joe Gordon 67.5 53.9 60.7**
Bobby Doerr 72.8 47.7 60.3**
Bid McPhee 77.7 41.7 59.7**
Willie Randolph 70.3 42.4 56.4
Davey Lopes 64.5 47.8 56.2
Avg HoF 2B 84.9 54.6 69.8
*BBWAA elected
**VC elected

19 monkeypants   ~  Nov 16, 2009 3:59 pm

[14] so if it is possible to make the case for Sandberg, Grich or Whitaker as being a better player, then it’s hard to say Alomar is a slam dunk.

I'm not sure that follows entirely logically. Just because whitaker was better (e.g.) doesn't make Alomar not a slam dunk. Perhaps they both are, especially given thatthey played in different eras.

20 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 16, 2009 4:00 pm

FYI - Hat tip to RAB: http://www.baseballprojection.com/2010/NYA2010.htm

The main problem with HOF discussions is that the parameters for what makes a HOFer are not at all well defined.

For one, is it only for GREAT players, or also excellent players? (I won't define the difference, but you get the idea)

How much do we count endurance? A guy who play 18 to 20 years will pile up some counting stats. How do you compare a player with excellent counting stats to one with 12 years of much better averages (Alomar to Grich)? I personally do not consider a player with great health and great endurance to necessarily be a great player. I think career averages are more imprtant then counting stats.

By definition, should we have only a certain amount of players at a given position over a given times period... like 1 SS per decade? (obviously this would be a guideline where exceptions are considered).

Unfortunately, there are players in the Hall now that probably shouldn't be there. This sets a lower bar and allows the "so-and-so is in, so-and-so should be in too" argument.

Typically, as time passes, sports records fall. We expect players to get better as medical, health and conditioning sciences get better. Should we expect a bit more from players now then 40 years ago?

To me, I would like to see it harder to get in, so only the very best make it. Mount Rushmore might not be as grand if there were 10 guys on it. My opinion doesn't count for anything, but I do wish the people in charge would better define what qualifies somone to get in.

21 monkeypants   ~  Nov 16, 2009 4:02 pm

[16] I don’t think you can simply call someone the best of his era and elect him to the Hall of Fame.

That's fine, since I did not argue that. However, under most circumstances, the best player at his position in his given era pretty much should go in the HOF. I don't really see how it could be otherwise, unless the position was historically weak in that era, as I pointed out in [13].

22 Shaun P.   ~  Nov 16, 2009 4:02 pm

[3] Utley might be better but he's also not eligible yet. If he dies tomorrow, no one is going to argue he was better than Alomar. There is no point in comparing Utley with Alomar.

As for the other guys:

Those are all-time adjusted EqAs of, in order from top to bottom:

Now I think comparing Alomar to Morgan (.314 EqA) is insanity - Morgan is clearly better. But to the others? Alomar has an argument. Offensively, he was better than everyone but Kent, and they are close; and of course he's tied with Grich and Gehringer. So if one includes defense (using FRAA, adjusted for all-time, because UZR and the rest don't go back to Gordon and Gehringer) - same order as above:


FRAA isn't the only metric in town, but using a combo of it and EqA, Grich is proably the best outside of Morgan. Alomar, I think, is probably behind not only Grich but also Gordon, and maybe Whitaker - but ahead of Gehringer and Kent.

23 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 16, 2009 4:03 pm

There is lots of talk about Gold Gloves here. Were there any defensive metrics around (aside from errors and FP%) in the era in quesion?

24 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 16, 2009 4:05 pm

[22] Nicely done.

25 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 16, 2009 5:04 pm

Cut and Paste from RAB: http://riveraveblues.com/
2010 UZR Projections and the Yankees
By Mike Axisa in Analysis, Defense

PLAYER, ...........POS, 2008.... 2009 projected
Mark Teixeira.... 1B -3.7 .....+0.6
Robinson Cano 2B -5.2 .....-1.7
Derek Jeter....... SS +6.6 ....-1.9
Alex Rodriguez 3B -8.6 .....-3.8
Brett Gardner.. CF +7.2 ....+3.7
Melky Cabrera.. LF -2.5 .....+0.9
Melky Cabrera.. CF +1.4 .....-1.9
Melky Cabrera.. RF -0.5 .....-0.1
Nick Swisher..... LF -0.5 .....+0.7
Nick Swisher..... RF -0.7 .....+0.4

So... last year our D sucked except for Jeter and Gritner????
ARod at NEGATIVE 8.6?
Robbie at NEGATIVE 5.2?

Methinks URZ needs some work.

26 a.O   ~  Nov 16, 2009 10:32 pm

I really think it's the d-bag factor keeping Alomar out. And that may be made easier by the fact that, as discussed, there are no clear parameters for HOF decision-making.

27 monkeypants   ~  Nov 16, 2009 11:35 pm

[26] Um, nothing is "keeping Alomar out"..he's not yet eligible for induction. Next year is his first eligible year.

28 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Nov 17, 2009 1:52 am

All these pretzels and advanced stats are making me thirsty...

Great, great comments here people, really interesting. Thanks!

29 joejoejoe   ~  Nov 17, 2009 9:53 am

Alomar is 63rd all-time in runs scored, scoring more than Carew in fewer games. Almost everybody on the list ahead of him is in the HOF. I know that's partly a factor of the teams he played on and the era but the point of offense is to score runs. Look at Raines and Boggs. Everybody gets excited about Boggs's counting stats and average but Raines was the better offensive player because he scored A LOT when he got on base.

Runs is the most important counting stat in offensive baseball. Not OPS+. For all of Jason Giambi's fireworks he's not a better offensive player than Jim Edmonds over his career because Giambi was an absolute statue on the bases.

Alomar was a great baserunner and like with Raines I think it's something that HOF voters value almost for nothing. I'm not talking about stolen bases so much as getting yourself from 1st to 3rd, from second to home.

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