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.