Heaven or Hell? Albert Belle

20 11 2007

Welcome to Heaven or Hell, a feature where the staff of Wax Heaven looks at a player (active or retired), his rookie card, and asks all the important questions.

Albert Belle will forever be in my good graces after reading what Jose Canseco said about him in ‘Juiced’. He said in so many words, after outing just about every player in baseball, that Albert Belle was the strongest human being he had ever met and he was 100% natural.

Let’s just get something out of the way before we go any further. Albert Belle was a mean, old, jerk. He completely ran over and through a miniature Fernando Vina. When kids egged his home one Halloween he chased after them in his SUV and attempted to run one down, he scares his girlfriend, and was an alcoholic early in his playing days. It was for those reasons and more that he was robbed of the M.V.P award in 1995 when he hit 50 home runs in a strike-shortened season in which he was hands down the best player that season. The award went to the David Ortiz-like Mo Vaughn who was a community guy and beloved in and out of Boston.

All that being said, Albert hit 30 or more home runs 8 times in a row from ’92-’99. He had 100 RBI or more 9 times and consistently hit for average. Say what you will about Albert Belle but he was a legendary slugger with no rumors of ever being on steroids.

Wax Heaven verdict: HEAVEN

He fell way short of 500 home runs due to an injury which ended his career at just 33 years of age. At his pace, if he could have kept playing into his late 30’s, early 40’s he might have hit 700. Sadly, his numbers are not strong enough to get him elected into the Hall of Fame, which hasn’t helped his once moderately high-priced 1990 Leaf rookie.


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5 responses

20 11 2007
Steve G.

I would say Heaven everywhere except Baltimore. Because of the way his contract was structured and the insurance policy attached to it, that ate up payroll and gave them one less roster spot for many years. I say Heaven, but Baltimore may want him to go to Hell.

20 11 2007
Mario C.

It’s a shame he gets no love in the hobby. I always thought he was awesome and the writer’s who vote for the MVP totally screwed him out of the award.

20 11 2007
dayf

Joey was a beast. So what if he was a grouchy jerk, he could hit the damn ball. Compare his stats to those of Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, whose career was cut short due to injury and World War 2 service. They’re pretty similar. They need to take a few hall of fame votes away from the whiny writers and give them to some stat geeks to balance things out.

10 05 2009
don gone

The single most feared hitter of the nineties and one of the most accomplished players on paper of an era filled with cheaters. Albert Belle was never linked with HGH or anabolic steroid use. Period. Elect players based on performance not personality. Fifty doubles and fifty homers in the same strike shortened season in which he was robbed by writers who much rather see a “good guy” (who would wind up in the Mitchell report years later) get the award for paling in comparison in just about every statistical category across the board. We’ve seen enough by now to realize what a joke these writers are. I distinctly remember another “good guy” (who consequently made a bit of a seen in Washington shortly before failing a performance enhancing drug test) being voted a gold glover at 1B while playing 28 games at the position.

11 07 2009
Carmine F.

What an awesome talent this guy was. But Albert never learned that you can’t alienate the press. And the fact that his career was unfotunatley shortened meant he didn’t have enough time to build on his legacy, mature as a human being, and rehabilitate his lousy reputation.

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