There weren’t many players in the
history of the Blue Jays who were more popular than Robert Alomar in his prime.
In his day, Alomar, 24, was one of the top sparkplugs in baseball and an
absolute whiz in the field, as he dazzled fans night in and night out. In 1992,
Alomar made only five errors in 150 games, good for a .993 fielding percentage.
He was a total player and could swing a mean stick as well. During the Jays’
first championship year, Alomar hit .310/.832 and also scored 105 runs. He was
a true threat at the top of the order by walking more than he struck out
(87/52) and he stole 49 bases in 58 attempts. The only thing Alomar did not do
overly well in 1992 was hit for power, as he managed only eight home runs and a
slugging percentage of .427.
Jeff Kent appeared in 17 games at
second base for the Jays in 1992 before he was shipped off to the New York Mets
in the David Cone deadline deal. Utility man Alfredo Griffin, 34, in his second
tour of duty with the Jays, also managed to appear at second base 16 times,
mostly as a late-game sub in blowout situations.
It is never easy replacing a
fan-favorite and doing it as a second-year player learning a new position is
all the more difficult, but Aaron Hill had a solid 2006 season, laying hope
that he will offer stability to the position that has been in a state of flux
since Alomar departed. Hill, 25, had a tough start to the year, batting
.210/.468 in March and April before he hit .375/.775, .392/.709, .415/.804,
.270/.468 and .400/.800 in the subsequent five months. Hill will never be as
flashy as Orlando Hudson, but the former shortstop and first round pick has solid range and a plus arm
for his new position. Offensively, Hill looks to be a solid No. 2 hitter with
plus makeup. Hill can likely match Alomar’s power numbers from 1992, but the
Jays current second baseman will never steal many bases, especially under the
Backing up Hill will likely be a
combination of Russ Adams, John McDonald, Ray Olmedo and Rule 5 pick Jason
Smith. Triple-A second baseman Ryan Roberts could also see some time, if he has
a strong Spring Training and/or start to the season.
Edge: Alomar (1992)