Andrés Mora Ibarra
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 180 lb.
- Debut April 13, 1976
- Final Game May 6, 1980
- Born May 25, 1955 in Rio Bravo, Coahuila Mexico
- Died June 12, 2015 in Saltillo, Coahuila Mexico
Only two players in baseball history hit more homers in the minors than did Andrés Mora Ibarra - unlike Hector Espino and Nelson Barrera, Mora also played 3 seasons in the majors. Without that time in The Show, it's plausible that Mora would be the all-time leader.
A native of Rio Bravo, Coahuila, Mexico, Mora made his pro debut at age 16 with the Tuzos de Zacatecas in 1971, for which he hit .307 in 56 games, with his first profesional home run and 29 runs batted in. He played 2 games for his hometown Saltillo Saraperos in 1972 and then had a brief but unsuccessful trial in the Montreal Expos organization in 1973, going hitless in 21 at bats for the West Palm Beach Expos of the Florida State League. At age 19, he was playing regularly for Saltillo. He hit .311 with 14 homers and drove in 77 in 1974, not bad for a teenager at AAA. He was just getting started - the next year he smacked a Mexican League-leading 35 homers, batting .307 and slugging .585 while driving in a league-high 109 RBI for Saltillo.
Seeing Mora's impressive power at a young age, the Baltimore Orioles signed him and placed him on AAA Rochester in 1976. He knocked the cover off the ball for the Red Wings, hitting .328 with a .686 slugging percentage, going deep 6 times in 67 AB (though he fanned 20 times). That was even better than another young gun for Rochester - Eddie Murray, 20, hit .274 and slugged .530. Mora was promptly called up and hit .218/.258/.350 for the O's - his slugging was about league-average but he was not getting on base enough. The next two seasons saw him split time between Rochester and Baltimore. In 1977, he hit .301 with 11 homers in 45 games for the AAA club and .245 with 13 homers in 77 games for the O's. He slugged 59 points above the league average but again failed to reach base consistently (.261). In 1978, he again had a .258 OBP and hit 8 homers in 229 AB for Baltimore, while he homered 4 times in 88 AB for the Red Wings. His 27 homers in 682 MLB AB was impressive but he was a one-dimensional threat and, at age 23, Baltimore let him go back South.
Upon returning to Mexico, Mora did even better than before he left. He hit .344 with 23 homers and 102 BI, slugging .606, one homer behind league co-leaders Luis Alcaraz and Ivan Murrell. Mora's bat helped Saltillo to the best season in the 20th century Mexican League - they were the only team to top .700 since the league had joined Organized Baseball in the mid-1950s.
The Cleveland Indians picked up Mora that off-season but he went only 2 for 18 for them in 1980; his major league career was over at age 25. He went back to Saltillo and hit .316 with 23 homers in 1981, leading the league in homers and RBI (93). The next year he again captured both titles (25, 80) though his average fell to .288, his lowest yet in Mexico. During the year, he switched teams from Saltillo to the Nuevo Laredo Owls.
In his first full year with the Owls, Mora fell under 20 homers (19) but went back over .300 (.304). More importantly, he was developing a fine batting eye - he drew 62 walks while fanning just 34 times, a far cry from his plate discipline in his first go-around in Mexico or his days with Baltimore.
1984 saw Mora's stats explode - he hit .383 with 36 doubles, 32 homers and a .697 slugging. In 1985 he won his 4th Mexican League home run crown as he hit 41 homers, drove in 110, hit .360 and slugged .693. Then Mexico adopted the lively Comando ball and lots of guys started hitting .400 or 40 homers. Jack Pierce set the Mexican record with 54 homers. Oddly, Mora did not keep pace - .355 with 33 homers, 117 RBI and a .652 slugging was nothing special by 1986 standards. That off-season he had a 29-game hitting streak in the Mexican Pacific League, an LMP record that stood for 19 years before Christian Quintero broke it in 2005. 1987 was a bit better for Andrés as he hit .368 with 38 homers, 123 RBI and a .697 slugging as the rest of the league declined. In 1988, the 33-year old slugger was limited to 85 games and fell to .308 though he still slugged .569 and popped 21 homers, his 10th season with 20 or more. A year later he was back to full time, but only hit 20 homers as league offensive totals were declining.
As the 1990s began, Mora was no kid anymore. At 35, his game was in decline - .306 with 16 homers in 1990, .293 with 28 homers in a resurgent 1991 (though failing to make the top 10 in circuit clouts), .247 with 11 homers in 1992 and .244 with 20 homers in 1993. With the end of his career rapidly approaching, Mora said he would play three more seasons in an attempt to catch Espino, who he trailed by 40 homers.
In 1994, reduced to being a DH and PH, Mora only cranked out 3 homers, batting .228 and slugging .323, both career lows. Amazingly, the guy who rarely walked when younger was now drawing most of his value from his walks - 28 in 157 PA for a .376 OBP. Young guns like Marco Romero and Boi Rodriguez had become the team's premier power threats but in a sad note, even lightweight Eric Yelding hit one more homer than Mora. Mora officially retired, but in 1995 he was lured back as a player-manager for Nuevo Laredo. 1995 saw him recover a bit - he hit 6 homers in 137 AB, slugging .431 and hitting .263. The sudden decline from 1993 to 1994, though, had ruined any chance of becoming the all-time minor league home run king. In 1996, Mora only played in 6 games, going 0 for 3 with 3 walks. In 1997, he finished his career by hitting a dazzling .429 (12 for 28 with 9 walks and no extra-base hits) in limited duty.
Mora retired 2nd all-time in the minors in home runs behind Hector Espino. A couple of years later, contemporary Nelson Barrera surpassed Mora as well.
As of 2000, Mora ranked 9th all-time in the Mexican League in runs, 6th in hits, 4th in RBI, 3rd in HR, 3rd in intentional walks, 5th in total bases and 12th in batting average. In addition to his 419 Mexican League homers he had homered 21 times in 328 at-bats for Rochester, showing that (unlike Barrera) he could hit with authority in the non-Mexican AAA leagues. He had also displayed great power in the majors, but hadn't gotten on base enough and never got a shot after age 25. In 2003 he was elected to the Salon de la Fama. He passed away from pneumonia in 2015, at the age of 60.
If his decline had started a little later or he had never gone to the majors, Andres Mora Ibarra might be the minors' all-time home run king. Instead few people know of his great accomplishments.
- The Mexican League: Comprehensive Player Statistics by Pedro Treto Cisneros
- Minor League Baseball
- The Baseball Cube