12 consecutive All-Star appearances, 10 Rawlings Gold Gloves, 4 Louisville Silver Sluggers, 5 top-6 MVP finishes, 1992 ALCS MVP, and World Series Champion in 1992 and 1993.
Rewind back to early December 1990. The Jays controversially traded slugger Fred McGriff, who had just come off a stellar .300/.430/.500 season, as well as three-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner Tony Fernandez for Joe Carter, who was coming off a season where he hit .234 with a career-low .681 OPS, and Roberto Alomar, a young 22-year-old kid with a ton of upside who had just captured his first All-Star appearance.
Then Jays GM Pat Gillick knew what he was doing at the time, but definitely drew his fair share of criticism for the move. It’s safe to say that there was no way he could have foreseen the kind of effect that 2011 Hall of Fame electee Roberto Alomar would have on the Toronto Blue Jays franchise.
We all know how Robbie fared in his five seasons in Toronto following the trade: a .307 batting average (Blue Jays career record), a .382 on-base percentage, 152 doubles, 36 triples, 55 home runs, 342 RBI, 322 walks, and an 81.7% stolen base success rate. Every year he was with the Jays he made an All-Star appearance and won a Gold Glove, and fans were treated to seeing an impressive offensive or defensive display in virtually every game that he played.
Despite advanced fielding statistics not being too kind to Alomar, it was impossible not to notice the kind of wizardry he displayed on the field. His athleticism, speed, and range allowed him to constantly rob players of hits, whether he was making a short, seemingly effortless, turn-around throw to first in shallow right field, or a bullet to his first baseman’s chest from behind second base.
Alomar will be forever remembered for his remarkable, momentum-shifting home run off Dennis Eckersley in game 4 of the 1992 ALCS, a season where Eckersley won the AL Cy Young and MVP awards.
Alomar’s overall postseason statistics with the Jays were even more impressive. He hit .330 in 29 postseason games, with 6 doubles, 18 RBI, and went 18-for-20 in stolen base attempts.
Whether the writers held something against Alomar in his first year of Hall of Fame eligibility last year or not, he missed becoming a first-ballot Hall of Famer by a heartbreaking eight votes.
He got his due recognition today for being one of the best baseball players of his generation, if not one of the greatest of all-time. As shaky as the entire voting process is, as Alomar saw an increase of 16.3% in his votes this year, the 90% of votes he received this year ranked 27th in baseball history.
Having had the pleasure of meeting him a few years ago in Toronto, it was easy to tell that the possibility of being inducted into the Hall of Fame was something Alomar took very seriously and that it was very important to him.
Alomar has publicly said he hopes to become the first inductee to wear a Blue Jays hat in the Hall of Fame and, providing the Hall doesn’t change anything with their say, it appears that it will finally happen.
So, on behalf of Mat and I here at Jays Journal, congratulations to you Robbie and to Bert Blyleven, 2011 National Baseball Hall of Fame electees.