Robbie Alomar turns 51 today.
You all know the the story.
Before the 1991 season, Pat Gillick made the biggest trade in Blue Jays history (though the Donaldson trade looks pretty good too). The Jays had been a good team, the few seasons before that, coming in 1st, 2nd or 3rd, in the AL East, the four previous years but not quite being able to get into the World Series. It was an amazing trade, each team trading 2 great players; the Jays sending great shortstop Tony Fernandez and first baseman Fred McGriff, who had hit 105 home runs over the previous 3 seasons for Alomar and Joe Carter. You rarely, if ever see a trade like that anymore; generally stars are traded for prospects. General Managers are scared to trade stars for stars, worried that they will be the loser in the deal and look bad.
I didn’t like the trade at the time. Fernandez was better player than Alomar then and McGriff looked like a potential Hall of Famer, hitting 35 home runs and taking 100 walks a year. Alomar had hit .283/.339/.379 in his 3 seasons as a Padre, but Gillick saw his potential. And we had John Olerud ready to take over first base. The shortstop position would be a bit of a problem, until we traded to get Tony Fernandez back, in June of 1993.
But we had 2 World Series wins over the next 3 years, so I would say we won. It was funny that that trade was made by someone that Jay fans were calling “Stand Pat Gillick” up until then.
Alomar’s first season with the Jays, 1991, he hit .295/.354/.436, he scored 88 runs and drove in 69, he had 41 doubles, 11 triples and 9 homers along with 53 steals (2nd in the AL). The Jays finished first in the AL East and lost out to the Twins in the ALCS in 5 games. He was terrific in the ALCS hitting .474. Roberto won the Gold Glove for best defensive second baseman in the AL, was named to the All-Star team and came in 6th in MVP voting.
In 1992 Alomar’s batting eye took a large step forward; he had 87 walks compared to 57 walks the year before. He hit .310/.405/.427, scored 105 run, drove in 76 and stole 55 bases. He was an All-Star again, won the Gold Glove and the Silver Slugger award for best hitting second baseman in the AL. He came in 6th in MVP voting again. This was our first World Series season, Roberto was terrific in the ALCS win over Oakland, hitting .423/.464/.692, with 2 homers and 5 steals in the 6 game win. Most of us remember his game tying home run in game 4, off Dennis Eckersley, in the 8th inning. We’d go on to win in the 11th. Roberto was named ALCS MVP
He didn’t hit as well in our World Series win over the Braves, batting just .208. But then who cares, we won. It was just a terrific season for Alomar; among AL batting leaders he was in 7th in batting average, 4th in on base, 8th in runs, and 5th in steals.
1993 was our second World Series winning season and Alomar’s numbers improved again, he had his best season as a Jay. What improved the most was his power, up until then his career high for home runs was 9 and that season he hit 17. He had a great season hitting .326/.408/.492, having an OPS+ of 141, scored 109 runs, drove in 93 and stole 55 bases, all career highs to that point. It was one of the best seasons ever by a Blue Jay. He won the Gold Glove and was named to the All-Star team, but lost out to Carlos Baerga for the Silver Slugger, although he was easily the better hitter that season. And, for the third season in a row he came in 6th in the MVP voting, but this time he trailed two Jays Paul Molitor, who was 2nd in the voting and John Olerud, who was 3rd. We had a heck of a team.
Among the AL batters, Roberto was 3rd in batting average, 7th in on base, 8th in runs, 4th in hits, 2nd in stolen bases and 6th in runs created with 125. In our playoff run he was, once again, terrific hitting .292 in the ALCS, with 4 steals against the White Sox and, turning it up a few notches in the World Series, hit .480/.519/.640 against the Phillies. That wasn’t enough to win him World Series MVP as Paul Molitor hit .500 and slugged 1.000. But the ring is the thing I’m sure.
In the lockout shortened 1994 season, his numbers fell off some, hitting .306/.386/.452, though still very good for a second basemen. He was an All-Star and Gold Glove winner again. 1995 was his last season with the Jays and his numbers dropped again hitting .300/.354/.449 He was an All-Star and a Gold Glove winner again, but he really didn’t want to be in Toronto anymore. Personally, if I am GM, I get rid of a player like that as quick as I can, unfortunately, Rookie GM Gord Ash, didn’t. Alomar would have had a lot of value in a trade, but he ended up signing as a free agent with the Orioles. Ash really could have helped out the team by making a deal.
Robbie had 3 seasons in Baltimore, a great one, a good one and an ok one. Next he was off to the Cleveland and 3 very good seasons there. He made the playoffs 4 times in his 6 seasons between the Orioles and Cleveland, but didn’t make it to the World Series again. From Cleveland he was traded to the Mets but by then he was no longer an elite player. From the Mets he went to Arizona, then White Sox and then signed with Tampa Bay before the 2005 season.
He had a series of injuries and medical problems from the time he was with the Mets on to the end of his career. His ability to hit and field dropped off suddenly in New York, which was attributed to not being able to handle the spotlight in New York, something I never believed. To me, he seemed to do his best in big spotlight moments. By the time he signed with Tampa he had back and vision problems and retired at 37. His decline was quite swift.
In 2011 Robbie became the first to go into the Hall of Fame wearing a Jays cap. I figured Doc would be number two but no such luck. Roberto’s been showing up at Rogers Centre quite often, over the last few years.
Roberto is heading up a trip to Seattle this summer. It sounds like a fun idea, and I love Seattle.
Happy Birthday Robbie, hope it is a great one.