Claim to fame: A member of perhaps the largest extended family of major leaguers, Moises Alou is not only the son of Felipe and nephew of Matty and Jesus, but also the cousin of pitchers Mel Rojas and Jose Sosa. Although a lifetime .303 hitter and a six-time All-Star in a lengthy career with seven NL clubs, Alou might be best known for flailing his arms and beseeching the left field umpire that he was denied an opportunity to catch a foul pop-up in the 2003 playoffs – the infamous Bartman incident.
Current Hall of Fame eligibility: Alou last played in 2008. His name will first appear on the BBWAA ballot in January of 2014.
Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Among all players named Alou, his .369 OBP and .516 SLG are tops. His BA was bettered only slightly by Matty at .307. Moises hit more homers than his father and two uncles combined, by a wide margin. Moises of course benefited from playing during the hitter-friendly 90s, while Felipe, Matty, and Jesus played a generation earlier, enduring the pitcher-dominated 60s. Even era-adjusted, however, most would consider Moises as the best hitting Alou. But being the best in the family – even a large and distinguished family – does not necessarily open the gates to Cooperstown.
Alou twice finished third in MVP voting, and his career WAR is good, but certainly not stellar, at 38.2. Alou’s 332 home runs rank 93rd all-time. That puts him ahead of Hall of Famers Hank Greenberg, Gary Carter, and Al Simmons, but behind Gary Gaetti, Matt Williams, and Joe Carter, none of whom is likely to be headed to the Hall. Perhaps more impressive, Alou ranks 68th in career slugging percentage, ahead of insiders Willie McCovey, Eddie Mathews, and Harmon Killebrew, but behind outsiders Kevin Mitchell, Hal Trosky, and Mo Vaughan. What’s more, Alou once led the majors in grounding into double plays, a dubious achievement, although one that never weighed too heavily against Jim Rice. As a Hall of Fame candidate, Alou falls in the grey area – not clearly in, not necessarily out.
Recently, the case for Jim Edmonds was presented in “Does He Belong in the Hall of Fame?” Edmonds’ and Alou’s careers spanned approximately the same years, and their batting stats are broadly similar (slight edge to Edmonds). In the field, however, Alou lacked the defensive sparkle (and appropriately his trophy case lacks the hardware) for which Edmonds is known. If you’re for Edmonds, you might or might not be for Alou. If you’re against Edmonds, you’re probably against Alou, too.
As a member of baseball’s class of 2008, Alou will not be the most impressive player on the 2014 ballot, which will be rich with first-timers. All-time great Greg Maddux is a certain first-ballot inductee who will probably be named by all but the most persnickety of voters. Jeff Kent might also get in on the first ballot, but if not, he will certainly collect a large number of votes. So will Tom Glavine, Luis Gonzalez, Mike Mussina, and Frank Thomas. Worse for Alou, the 2007 class is also strong (Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Kenny Lofton, Mike Piazza and Curt Schilling). Throw in the possibility that in 2014 most of those players (I’m guessing Bonds, Clemens, Lofton, and Schilling) could be holdovers from the 2013 ballot, and it becomes clear that Alou might be feeling the squeeze in 2014.
Alou had a strong enough career that he deserves the consideration and debate that a long tenure on the HOF ballot would provide. It will be an injustice if he immediately falls below the 5% cutoff due to the misfortune of retiring in the same year as Maddux, Kent, Mussina and others.
Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? is a Tuesday feature here.
Others in this series: Adrian Beltre, Al Oliver, Albert Belle, Barry Larkin, Bert Blyleven, Billy Martin, Cecil Travis, Chipper Jones, Closers, Dan Quisenberry, Darrell Evans, Dave Parker, Don Mattingly, Don Newcombe, George Steinbrenner, George Van Haltren, Harold Baines, Jack Morris, Jim Edmonds, Joe Carter, Joe Posnanski, John Smoltz, Juan Gonzalez, Keith Hernandez, Ken Caminiti, Larry Walker, Maury Wills, Mel Harder, Pete Browning, Phil Cavarretta, Rafael Palmeiro, Roberto Alomar, Rocky Colavito, Ron Guidry, Ron Santo, Smoky Joe Wood, Steve Garvey, Ted Simmons, Thurman Munson, Tim Raines, Will Clark