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Shea Shea La Fame: Alomar Reason to Go into the Hall? And Other Bad Puns
2005-03-27 21:04
by Mike Carminati

Roberto Alomar quietly, and mercifully, retired from the Devil Ray camp last week. Now, I'm not going to try to convince you that Almoar was a Hall of Famer. I believe that his inclusion among the game's greats is a fait accompli. The question remains whether he will be a first-ballot type or have to wait like fellow second baseman Ryne Sandberg, who seemed a no-brainer as well. We'll find out around 2010.

Given the psyche of the average Hall voter, instead of plumbing those depths, I'd rather focus on two other questions regarding Alomar's career. My first question is where Alomar ranks among the great second baseman. Second, I have to wonder where he would rank if not for his precipitous fall after being traded to the Mets in 2002.

Alomar had arguably his best year in 2001 at the ripe age of 33. He finished fourth in the AL MVP vote, had career highs in OPS (.956), batting average (.336), and OBP (.541), and registered a career-high park-adjusted OPS of 149 (seventh best in the AL).

Then after three successful years with the Indians, he was traded to Los Metsgoes replacing outgoing free agent Edgardo Alfonzo. The next to years witnessed the Mets, one year removed from the Series, fall to one of the worst teams in the NL as well as Alomar go from arguably the best second baseman in baseball to a guy who couldn't keep a job.

This mirrored an earlier fall from grace at second by an Indian turned Met. That is Carlos Baerga, a player who was being compared to Hornsby during his first six years in Cleveland and then after two-plus years as a Met became a journeyman supernumerary.

Both players regained a bit of success in Arizona, Baerga in 2003 and Alomar last year (117 OPS+). Oddly, Alomar was traded to the White Sox in each of the last two seasons ostensibly for the pennant drive, and in both seasons was a drag on the lineup (2003 OPS+ of 79 and 13 in 2004).

Anyway, I thought how unusual was a sudden decline like Alomar suffered as a nuevo Met? Let's see…

Since 1900 eighteen players have had a larger dropoff in OPS than Alomar's .248 difference from 2001 to 2002 (based on players qualifying for the batting title). Oddly, a Hall of Fame second baseman tops the list:

Rogers Hornsby.39419251.2451926.851
Scott Brosius.3331996.9091997.576
Max Carey.3151925.9091926.594
Jeff Bagwell.30719941.2011995.894
John Mayberry.3001975.9631976.663
Don Buford.2971971.8901972.593
Brook Jacoby.2921987.9281988.635
Larry Sheets.2771987.9211988.645
Carl Yastrzemski.27119701.0441971.772
Cy Seymour.2711905.9881906.718
Jimmy Sheckard.2681903.8991904.630
Dale Murphy.2631987.9971988.734
Darin Erstad.2602000.9512001.691
Cito Gaston.2571970.9071971.650
Norm Cash.25419611.1481962.894
Babe Ruth.25219211.35919221.106
Cal Ripken Jr..2511991.9401992.689
Boog Powell.25119641.0051965.754
Roberto Alomar.2482001.9562002.708

Also, the Mets suffered two straight years of blight at second: Edgardo Alfonzo's 2000-01 decline by 242 OPS points was 24th. Sadly, Baerga's similar deterioration upon becoming Met (1995-96) was just 133 points (448th).

OK, given that Alomar suffered a career-curtailing turn for the worse at age 34, how high can he rank among the all-time best. Here are the 15 second sackers with at least 300 Win Shares (min. 1000 games at second):

Eddie Collins574.333.424.429.853
Joe Morgan512.271.392.427.819
Rogers Hornsby502.358.434.5771.010
Nap Lajoie496.338.380.467.847
Craig Biggio395.286.373.435.807
Rod Carew384.328.393.429.822
Charlie Gehringer383.320.404.480.884
Roberto Alomar376.300.371.443.814
Frankie Frisch366.316.369.432.801
Lou Whitaker351.276.363.426.789
Ryne Sandberg346.285.344.452.795
Bobby Grich329.266.371.424.794
Willie Randolph312.276.373.351.724
Bid McPhee305.271.355.372.727
Nellie Fox304.288.348.363.710

Alomar ranks eighth using Win Shares. However, where did he rank at the end of 2001 among 33-year-old second basemen?:

Rogers Hornsby472.363.436.5841.020
Eddie Collins430.329.419.426.845
Joe Morgan382.282.402.445.847
Roberto Alomar345.306.378.455.833
Nap Lajoie340.348.386.502.888
Ryne Sandberg309.290.349.457.806
Frankie Frisch306.321.372.446.818
Craig Biggio306.292.380.437.817
Rod Carew298.333.395.444.839
Larry Doyle289.290.357.408.765
Bobby Doerr281.288.362.461.823
Billy Herman278.305.366.407.773
Charlie Gehringer276.325.396.488.885
Bobby Grich264.267.370.424.795
Nellie Fox262.294.355.371.726

Alomar at age 33 seemed on target to be in the argument for best second baseman ever. Today, he retires as one of the best, but he leaves the best ever argument to Hornsby, Collins, Morgan, and Lajoie.

2005-03-28 12:10:10
1.   Alex Rubin
I'm not sure if it was intentional or not, but you use the same line (.300/.371/.443/.814) for both Alomar's career and as a 33-year old.

After the 2001 season, Alomar's career line was .306./378/.455/.833

2005-03-28 12:58:44
2.   Mike Carminati
Yeah, actually I just updated the WS tots in the query. I can generate the table with the ratios at age 33 as well.
2005-03-28 19:50:26
3.   Mike Carminati
Updated through age 33 for all of the 2b men.

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