Friday, July 31, 2009

The Many Faces of Moises Alou

This post was inspired by some cards sent to me recently by John from The Pursuit of 80's(ness). Another awesome batch of cards came across from the UK and whilst going through them I was reminded of the solid but rarely flashy career of Moises Alou.

Drafted second overall in the 1986 draft by the Pirates, Alou was the "player to be named later" in a 1990 trade that saw Zane Smith pack for Pittsburgh. It wasn't long before he became one of Montreal's outfield cornerstones dependable for above-average stats in both average and power. He might not have been as flashy as Larry Walker or as speedy as Marquis Grissom but he got the job done. With his father Felipe managing him, Alou finished second behind Eric Karros in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 1992 and was an All-Star two years later.

As good as the Expos got, the team suffered from a lack of commitment from ownership and the team was soon dismantled following the strike that ended the 1994 season. He stuck around for a couple more years but signed on as a free agent with the Marlins for the 1997 season and made an immediate impact hitting .292, knocking in 115 runs and smacking 23 home runs. Oh yeah, he was also the winner of the Babe Ruth Award, which is similar to World Series MVP, in that it's given for the best World Series performance as voted by the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America, leading an unlikely team to their first World Championship.

Alou's stay with the Marlins wasn't meant to last. Florida owner Wayne Huizenga promptly dismantled his championship squad in a firesale that looked a lot like the ongoing deals that Alou would have become accustomed to seeing in Montreal. Off to Houston.

Different team, same plucky player. In his four years playing with Houston (he missed all of 1999 due to a psychopathic treadmill so I'm not counting it), Alou was an All Star twice and finished third in NL MVP voting in 1998 where he set a career high for RBIs, driving in 124 runs for a dangerous team that included Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio.

As Alou approached and surpassed 40 years of age, he continued to put play a solid game yet never managed to find a place to really call his baseball home. After leaving the Astros via free agency following the 2001 season, Alou got a ripe three-year deal with the Cubs. In 2004, at the age of 37, he set a career high in home runs with 39. But that would be all for his days in the Windy City.

Although his power numbers were starting to taper off, Alou continued to hit for average in his final four seasons (spending two each with the Giants and Mets). Between 2005 and 2008 the Atlanta-born outfielder never hit below .300.

Last year marked the end of Alou's playing career. He'll likely never get any Hall of Fame career, nor does he necessarily deserve it. He was, however, one of the more overlooked players of a generation, quietly playing contently in the shadows of some of the game's bigger stars. Superstars might make those around them look better than they actually are but it's guys like Moises Alou that enable superstars to rise to the top of their game.

Thanks again, John for the awesome cards and for reminding me of an Expos great.


gritz76 said...

If you ever get the chance to meet him, whatever you do don't shake his hand. I seen an interview with him back in the Cub's days and he was asked why he never wears batting gloves. He responded with the fact that he conditions them by pissing on them. True story. He is still one of my favorite players, even though he has a strange way toughening up his hands.

Ryan Cracknell said...

Yikes! Actually, that made my night. What freaks me out is thinking about who the first to find out that trick and more disturbingly, how'd they find out.

Hackenbush said...

I agree with everything you say but all I can see is Moises reaching into the stands in the 2003 NLCS and losing the ball to a fan. And I do remember the story about his hands. Eww!

Tubby said...

Ummm--- Alou was sent packing by someone other then loria in montreal. Loria bought controling stake in 99, after failing to buy the orioles in 94.He only got 92 percent of the team because other owners didn't pick up the phone when the team needed money.

Then Alou was traded by Wayne Huizinga (owner of the dolphins and panthers) to houston in November 98 as part of the infamous firesale.

Loria didn't take over the Marlins until 2002.

The WS MVP was also won by Livan Hernandez, as well as the NLCS after Alex Fernandez went down with a torn rotator cuff.

Might want to check your facts next time. Kinda sloppy if you ask me. A quick look at wikipedia would of helped.

Ryan Cracknell said...

Oops, my bad. Sometimes typing drafts in the wee hours of the night isn't the best idea. Thanks for pointing out the sloppiness in the post.