Jul 1, 2015

Former New York Mets Outfielder: Moises Alou (2007-2008)

Moises Rojas Alou was born on July 3rd, 1966 in Atlanta Georgia. He is the son of former MLB outfielder & manager, Felipe Alou who had an excellent 17 year career. He is also the nephew of Jesus & Matty Alou, as well as the cousin of Mel Rojas.

Moises was playing more basketball than baseball back in Redwood City, California during his teen years. His speed, as well as his great hitting, got him noticed by scouts. He was eventually signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a first round draft pick in 1986. He hit over .290 twice in the minors, reaching AAA by 1990. By that time the Pirates felt he was ready, as he was called up to the Pirates team late that season.

After just two games he was traded to the Montreal Expos where his dad Felipe was the manager. His career began well as he came in second in the Rookie of the Year voting batting .282 with 9 HRs 28 doubles 16 stolen bases & 56 RBIs. The following year an ankle injury reduced some of his speed and he primarily became a corner outfielder. His strong arm got him 11 outfield assists that season, in his career he had 53 assists in left field putting him at #89 all time.

In 1994 he had a fantastic season, by the All Star break the Expos were in first place & Alou was batting .335 among the top in the league. In the All Star Game at Three Rivers Stadium that year, he delivered the game winning double which scored the San Diego Padres, Tony Gwynn in the bottom of the 10th inning. He finished out the season batting .339 (4th in the league) with 22 HRs 31 doubles 78 RBIs & a .397 on base %.

That season the Expos finished in first place, for the only time in the teams history. They were one of the game’s best overall teams, but the baseball strike ruined any Championship dreams there were in Canada, as no post season was played.

In 1997 he signed on with the Florida Marlins as a free agent. There he went on to win the '97 World Series with Florida, batting .292 with 143 hits (6th in the league) 23 HRs 29 doubles 115 RBIs (9th in the league) & a .373 on base % (10th in the league) during the regular season. He made his second All Star appearance that year & was fourth in fielding (.990%).

Post Season: In the post season he struggled at the plate in the first two rounds against National League pitching. Against the San Francisco Giants he batted .214 (3-14) with an RBI in the NLDS.

Then in the NLCS he against the Atlanta Braves, he drove in five runs but batted just .067. He then went on to have a strong World Series against the Cleveland Indians.

In Game #1 he hit a three run HR off Orel Hershiser in the 4th inning to break a 1-1 tie. Charles Johnson followed with a back to back HR pushing Florida ahead 5-1 in a game they won 7-4. Alou came back to hit HRs in Games four & five, in losses at Cleveland's Jacobs Field. The series eventually went to a game seven, played in Florida.

In the classic seventh game, he led off the 9thinning facing the Indians closer Jose Mesa, with the Marlins down 2-1. Alou singled, went to third on a Charles Johnson base hit & then made history as he scored the tying run on Craig Counsell’s sacrifice line out to left field. The Marlins went on to win the game & the Series in the 11th inning.

After the Championship, the Marlins dismantled their Championship team, Alou was sent to the Houston Astros. He would spend four seasons in Houston, making the post season twice in his time there.He loved hitting at Minute Maid Park, bashing a career high (up to that point) 38 HRs with 124 RBIs (both sixth best in the NL) there in his first season. He posted a .398 on base % & hit .312 making another All Star appearance as the Astros made the post season.

Alou batted just .188 (3-16) in the loss to the NL Champion San Diego Padres. In the off season he tore his ACL & missed all of the 1999 season. He returned in 2000 to bat a career best .355, coming in second place in the batting race, once again just missing out on winning a batting title.

That year he posted a .416 on base % (10th in the NL) with 30 HRs 114 RBIs & 28 doubles. In 2001 his number remained good as usual, .331 batting average with 27 HRs 108 RBIs. He struggled again in the post season batting just .167 (2-12) in the loss to the Atlanta Braves.

In 2002 he signed a deal with the Chicago Cubs who were now a much improved team under manager Lou Pinella. Alou was one of the Cubs top players in the teams' 2003 NL Central division winning season. He hit .280 with 22 HRs & 91 RBIs, both second to Sammy Sosa.

Post Season: In the NLDS he batted .500 going 10-20 with three RBIs against Atlanta Braves pitching. In the NLCS against his old Florida Marlins team mates he batted .310 hitting two HRs with five RBIs. Both his HRs came in at Wrigley Field in losses in Games #1 & #7.

He is most famous in that series for going over to catch a 9th inning foul ball that seemed like a sure out. That was until a fan snatched the ball away from him. Alou publicly showed his disgust but later apologized for his reaction, as the whole scene grew ugly & way out of proportion. The fan had to be escorted from that game for his safety, as the Cubs fans grew angry. Even after the incident, especially because the Cubs lost the series, he has had nothing but hate mail & threats made to his life since the incident.

The Marlins went on to win that game & the World Series as well. It was to be his final post season appearance.

Alou followed with a big 2004 season, 39 HRs (7th in the NL) 106 RBIs (10th in the NL) while batting .293, although the Cubs fell to a third place finish. That year he made the All Star team for the fifth time & came in 14th place for the MVP voting. In 2005 Alou was back with his father, now the manager in San Francisco with the Giants. Injuries which had always haunted him, were now taking a bigger toll on his career, as he reached his late thirties.

In his first season with the Giants he batted a strong .321 with 19 HRs 21 doubles & 63 RBIs playing in 123 games. That year he saw a lot of playing time in left field due to the injuries to Barry Bonds. The next season Alou was limited to just 98 games, batting .301 with 22 HRs & stated that he would have retired if the Giants had won the World Series. That season in a double header game against the Mets at Shea Stadium, he signed a ball for centerfieldmaz who was lucky enough to be in the first row by the Giant dug out. Alou signed autographs for everyone nearby & was very friendly as well.

In the 2006/2007 off season, Alou signed a deal with the New York Mets. At the time the Mets looked like his best shot at winning a World Series, in the twilight of his career. At the time he arrived in New York, Moises was one of the last MLB players to not wear batting gloves. Strangely he admitted to actually urinating on his hands to toughen them up. Alou was good natured, & also was a famous prankster, especially when team mates were asleep in the locker room. 

He was the Mets opening day left fielder, finding himself batting sixth behind the likes of David Wright, Carlos Beltran & Delgado. He made an immediate impact on a club that was looking ahead to a good follow up year, after losing the NLCS the previous season. Alou would hit safely in 16 of his first twenty games, batting .349 to end April.

On April 17th, he hit two HRs driving in three runs in the Mets 8-1 win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. That put him on a streak where he drove in runs in five straight games.

Then on May 11th, in a game at Shea against the Milwaukee Brewers, he suffered a torn quadriceps muscle putting him out for three and a half months. His absence was surely missed by the Mets, although when he returned they were still in first place. Alou came back by the end of July, and picked it right up again.

He broke the Mets club record with a 30 game hitting streak, going to the end of September. Alou also set a record with the longest hitting streak of anyone over the age of forty, the hit streak was the longest of anyone in baseball that season.

On August 4th, he hit a pair of solo HRs in a 6-2 Mets loss at Wrigley Field. On August 8th his 8th inning HR off Rafael Soriano, broke a 3-3 tie & was the game winning run. On August 12th he hit two more HRs, in a game against the Florida Marlins, leading to a 10-4 Mets win. The next day he drove in two runs, breaking a 3-3 tie in Pittsburgh in the top of the 8th inning, also the winning runs in the 5-4 win. The day after that he hit his 8th HR, driving in three runs in the Mets 10-8 win. 

In September he hit four HRs & drove in 18 runs while riding his hit streak, certainly helping the Mets race to a post season. But the team, still blew their NL East lead & missed out on the playoffs on the last day of the season. Overall on the 2007 season Alou played in just 87 games due to the injuries, batting .341, with 13 HRs 19 doubles 49 RBIs & a .392 on base % at age forty. In 84 games in left field, he made seven assists with his strong arm, posting a .971 fielding %.

2008 looked promising for both the Mets & Alou, as the team attempted for forge forward after the let down of '07. But things went bad right away, as Alou needed hernia surgery during Spring Training. He returned in early May, hitting well enough to bat safely in 11 of 12 games. On May 18th he singled with the bases loaded & then added a sac fly RBI in the Mets 11-2 win in the subway series across town.

Alou re-injured himself once again, & while rehabbing in early July, pulled a hamstring. The Mets announced he was done for the year & his career was also over. In just 15 games he hit .347 with two doubles nine RBIs & a .388 on base %.

In his 17 season career, Moises batted .303 with 2134 hits (209th all time) 332 HRs (101st all time) 421 doubles (147th all time) 39 triples, 1287 RBIs (117th all time) 1109 runs scored (243rd all time) & 81 sac flies (82nd all time). 

He also stole102 bases & a .369 on base % in 1942 games played. His 82 career sac flies are 81st most all time.  

Alou made six All Star teams, playing in four post seasons, winning one World Series with the 1997 Florida Marlins.


Trivia: Alou was one of a handful of major league players who hit 20 home runs in a single season & whose fathers had also hit 20 home runs in an MLB season.

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