Righthanded Hitting, Righthanded Throwing Outfielder/First Baseman
Seasons With Braves: 1964-1969
Stats With Braves: .295/.338/.440, 94 HR, 335 RBI, 464 RS
I have in my mind (though it is not original with me) the concept of the Felipe Alou Line, which is the line of demarcation between a guy who could plausibly be a Hall of Famer and a guy (like Alou) who was a really good player but no Hall of Fame candidate. He played six years with the Braves, four in Atlanta. Just to remind you, Milwaukee years count for players who would have made it on to the list just for their time in Atlanta. Alou’s raw numbers don’t look the equal of the last few guys ranked behind him, but that’s largely due to context; his Atlanta tenure, which includes his two best years, was in the midst of the most pitcher-friendly era since the First World War.
Alou came up with the Giants in 1958 just as they were putting together the greatest collection of offensive talent in baseball history (I mean, Willie McCovey spent a couple of years as the fourth outfielder!) and managing to not do anything much with it. It maybe would have been wise to trade some of it for pitching, but they waited too long. Alou was traded to the Braves after the 1963 season, along with Ed Bailey, for a package of Del Crandall, Bob Shaw, and Bob Hendley, all of whom were pretty much done.
Alou was right back into the position of trying to get playing time, this time with Aaron, Carty, and Lee Maye in the outfield. He had a rough year in 1964, but in 1965 he was in the lineup most of the time, split between first and the outfield, and had a fine year among the wreckage of the last year of the Milwaukee Braves.
Bobby Bragan had a theory that you should put your best hitter in the leadoff spot. He never had the guts to try it with Aaron, but he did with Alou, beginning sometime in 1965 and continuing in 1966. Bragan got fired, presumably not for this, but Alou had a lot of success leading off even though he was nothing like a prototypical leadoff hitter. His best season came in 1966, hitting .327/.361/.533 with a career-high 31 homers, scored 122 runs, and finished fifth in the MVP voting. Also, Moises was born in July.
Alou slumped in 1967. His 1968 doesn’t look all that good, .317/.365/.438 with 11 homers, but it was the Year of the Pitcher. He was third in the league in average, first in hits, fourth in doubles and in total bases. In the context of that season, it’s equal to 1966. But Alou had a bad year in 1969 and was traded afterwards for washed-up pitcher Jim Nash. He spent the next few years meandering around the AL, finishing up with three miserable PA with the Brewers in 1974 under their “Employ Washed-Up Ex-Milwaukee Braves” program, and is currently unemployed.