Alomar tops Class of 2010

Robbie Alomar began his career as a Padre in 1988 but became a Blue Jay along with Joe Carter in...

Robbie Alomar began his career as a Padre in 1988 but became a Blue Jay along with Joe Carter in December of 1990 in the most memorable trade in Toronto baseball history. (Sun Media/Paul Henry)

KEN FIDLIN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:47 AM ET

If you're a Blue Jays fan and you're thinking there isn't much to look forward to this year, you might want to set your sights a little further out, both for the current team and also for one very special player from yesteryear.

With the election of Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice to the Hall of Fame this week, the Class of 2010 steps into the on-deck circle, headlined by a player who probably will be the first to be inducted into Cooperstown wearing a Blue Jays cap.

Robbie Alomar began his career as a San Diego Padre in 1988 but became a Blue Jay along with Joe Carter in December of 1990 in the most memorable trade in Toronto baseball history.

Ironically, one of the other principals in that deal, Fred McGriff, is also up for election in 2010.

Alomar isn't going to be a slam dunk for first-ballot inclusion. He has marvellous numbers that rank with the elite second basemen of all-time but there will be some who believe his career was too short.

The most recent second baseman to be elected was Ryne Sandberg in 2005, in his third year of eligibility. Sandberg played 2,164 games, hit 282 homers, drove in 1,061 runs, stole 344 bases and scored 1,318 runs. His career on-base-plus-slugging (OPS) was .796.

He also was awarded nine consecutive Gold Gloves from 1983 through 1991.

Alomar weighs in somewhat better than Sandberg. He played 2,371 games, hit 210 homers, drove in 1,134 runs, stole 474 bases, scored 1,508 runs while batting exactly .300. His OPS is .814 and he won 10 Gold Gloves.

More to the point, Alomar will be up for election at the head of his class, in a year when there are no other clear first-ballot candidates.

The only others who become eligible next winter with strong credentials are Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, McGriff and Todd Zeile. Alomar tops that list.

Larkin looks as if he could be one of those types of players, not unlike Rice, whose statistics might not tell the true measure of the man. It could very well be that voters will begin to appreciate him only through the prism of time.

Zeile was a fine player but he just doesn't measure up statistically.

McGriff fell seven homers short of the 500 club and that could foretell his Hall of Fame destiny: borderline. Ditto for Martinez. He is one of the best DH's of all time but voters have never looked kindly on one-dimensional players.

The trade in which Alomar and Carter became Jays in exchange for Tony Fernandez and McGriff is a seminal moment in Toronto baseball history.

From 1984 onward, the Jays had strong talent, making the playoffs in both '85 and '89 without getting to the World Series.

In an attempt to change the culture of the team, Pat Gillick went for a blockbuster. McGriff was a rising young star and Fernandez was a wizard at shortstop. Carter was an established run producer but Alomar was the key that unlocked the door to the fall classic.

He spent five years in Toronto and remains today, in the eyes of most who saw him, the best position player in team history, one of the catalysts who brought two World Series titles to the city.

If you care to look even further out, the 2011 election will also hold some fascination for Canadians. That's the year that Larry Walker, the greatest Canadian-born player ever, gets his first shot.

Walker, the 1997 National League Most Valuable Player, finished his career in 2005 with a .313 career batting average, 383 homers, 1,311 RBIs, a .400 on-base percentage, a .565 slugging percentage and an OPS of .965.

Don't forget the five Gold Gloves.

If we were to use Rice's credentials as the bare minimum for an outfielder in the Hall of Fame, then Walker compares rather well.

Rice had 8,225 at-bats, scored 1,249 runs, had 2,452 hits, 382 HR, 1,451 RBIs, an on-base percentage of .352, a batting average of .298, a .502 slugging percentage and an .854 OPS.

And not a Gold Glove, not even a Tin Glove, in sight.

But it's votes that count and Alomar is up next to see if he can get his.


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