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   1. Bob Meta-Meusel Posted: January 04, 2008 at 08:04 PM (#2660383)
I’m not sure why I have so much to say in response to this, but it’s a slow day at work and I can’t help myself.

Sure, Kingman hit 35 home runs in 1986, but he did it while putting up a .210/.255/.431 line that was good for a 90 OPS+ as a DH. When you consider just how SLG heavy that OPS is, he was not a particularly valuable player, despite those home runs. Baseball Prospectus has his WARP3 at 1.4 and he comes up with 8 Win Shares, which for someone who played in 144 games isn’t exactly impressive. He was only slightly better than replacement, even though he finished second in the league in home runs.

I’d also add, that while he might have been a similar home run hitter to Schmidt, Reggie, Rice, et al, he wasn’t in their league at, well, anything else. Even without a decline in his home run rates eventually his other skills (such as they were) were going to decline enough that the home runs couldn’t compensate for his other inadequacies. That was far less true of the other players who you mentioned as being in the same power class.

Now, even so, I agree that without collusion, he probably would have gotten the chance to play in 1987, and he might even have rebounded somewhat with the juiced ball conditions of that year. I’m not, however, so sure that he would have played every day. He would have been a 38 year old DH who’d hit .210 the year before and wasn’t exactly lighting it up otherwise. In 1988, the bottom dropped out of offensive levels to a point significantly lower than they’d been in 1986. With Oakland moving into the glory years of the bash brothers, I don’t think he could have kept a job there. If he could have found a job in 1988 I doubt he would have played full time, and I rather suspect that he would have really suffered from the decreased offense that year, probably not managing to stay above the Mendoza-line. I don’t see a scenario where he played into 1989.

Doing some rather unscientific estimations of what I think might have happened with Kong’s career if it hadn’t been for collusion, I have him coming up with 24 HR in 115 games (115 games being what Reggie played for them that year) of .220/.272/.460 (99 OPS+) with Oakland in ’87 & 19 HR in 100 games in ’88 with a line of .194/.245/.419 (89 OPS+) for Detroit (where he seemed the best fit). That would have him at 485. I don’t see anyone giving him enough playing time to get over 500 in ’89… and that’s with two years that, while with reduced playing time, aren’t any worse than his actual last year. If he’d actually declined in ’87, I can’t imagine anyone giving him a job in ’88. To get him to 500 home runs, you pretty much have to get a situation where someone was going to play him every day. I just don’t think that collusion was the only thing that stopped him from doing that.

For all his impressive power, Dave Kingman just wasn’t a great player, and only periodically even a very good one. It was more than just collusion bringing a slightly early end to his career that kept him out of the HOF, and even from reaching 500 home runs.
   2. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 04, 2008 at 08:09 PM (#2660393)
Briefly, Kingman had a career .236 BA. Yes, it would have been a major first for him to hit 500+ HR and not make the Hall of Fame, but getting in with a .236 BA career BA would also be a first. And this ignores his notoriously bad relationship with the media and his teams.

I think 500 HR would have given Kingman a few more votes for the HOF, but no way he gets in.
   3. Ron Johnson Posted: January 04, 2008 at 08:11 PM (#2660396)
Might have cost him immortality. Might not though. In fact I'd bet against it.

Consider Eddie Mathews. Nobody but a 12 year old Mets fan has any doubt that Mathews was substantially better than Kong.

Not only did Mathews not make it in his first attempt, he didn't come close. Didn't make it until his 4th try. I don't understand the result, but it sure points out that in the 70s at least 500 home runs was nothing like automatic election.

And as far as I know Mathews wasn't as deeply unpopular as Kong. You'd have a substantial number of voters looking for reasons not to vote for him.

I know we're kidding ourselves if we think statheads have any substantial influence on the voting today and the real influence would have been even less then. But a Bill James article that has the theme "If Dave Kingman is a hall of famer, I'm an airplane" would have been a reason. (Remember they don't have to buy the argument if the conclusion supports their desired result -- think how run support arguments gained traction when they lined up with Nolan Ryan going 8-16 with a great era)
   4. sotapop Posted: January 04, 2008 at 08:16 PM (#2660400)
here we go again, letting the facts get in the way of a good story. :)
nice tale, well told, dial.
agreed that Kingman wasn't a particularly good ballpayer -- didn't even walk enough to make him a TTO player -- but guys like him are fun to watch. I'll take him over a take-n-rake anyday, at least from a paying customer point-of-view.
my Kong story: I was a Yankees fan growing up in upstate NY, watched all the games I could on WPIX, including some with Kingman during his brief yankee stint. one day he fouled off a ball, back and slightly to the 3B side, and according to announcers White and Messer, it went clear out of the stadium. they were amazed.
   5. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2008 at 08:20 PM (#2660406)
Doing some rather unscientific estimations of what I think might have happened with Kong’s career if it hadn’t been for collusion, I have him coming up with 24 HR in 115 games (115 games being what Reggie played for them that year) of .220/.272/.460 (99 OPS+) with Oakland in ’87 & 19 HR in 100 games in ’88 with a line of .194/.245/.419 (89 OPS+) for Detroit (where he seemed the best fit).

Kingman was much younger (3 yrs) than Reggie and had played a full-season with over 600 PAs for the last three seasons - Jackson hadn't done anything of the sort. I would have expected a PA decline like Jackson's (not necessarily performance, but chances). Given Kong's HR/AB, he'd likely have hit more than you are giving him credit for. The A's played Luis Polonia in the OF - I don't think he would have been a good fit there, but he should have caught on elsewhere.
   6. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2008 at 08:38 PM (#2660435)
Not only did Mathews not make it in his first attempt, he didn't come close. Didn't make it until his 4th try. I don't understand the result, but it sure points out that in the 70s at least 500 home runs was nothing like automatic election.

I remember the 80s a little different. It was a time of "we'll never see these guys again". And oh, the hype train. The Card/Autograph shows. Kong would have been photgraphed with Mays and Williams and Mantle and Aaron and McCovey. Arm in arm with all those greats, keeping him out would have been much harder than you might think.

And yes, Kong probably doesn't get in, but he's very likely to have hit 500 HRs, and that chance at immortality - heck, even not being elected to the HOF, there are lots and lots of 500 HR Club events. That change in memorabilia levels is huge. The charge for an autograph; the hanging out with Schmidt, Mays, Aaron. Heck, kids memorize the 500 HR club (it's nearly 25 now), but very few get down to 442. Even I stopped at 475 (well, not really, but that was before Kong got to 442).
   7. baudib Posted: January 04, 2008 at 08:43 PM (#2660441)
Kingman would have never made the HOF.
   8. Bob Meta-Meusel Posted: January 04, 2008 at 08:45 PM (#2660443)
Kingman was much younger (3 yrs) than Reggie and had played a full-season with over 600 PAs for the last three seasons - Jackson hadn't done anything of the sort. I would have expected a PA decline like Jackson's (not necessarily performance, but chances). Given Kong's HR/AB, he'd likely have hit more than you are giving him credit for. The A's played Luis Polonia in the OF - I don't think he would have been a good fit there, but he should have caught on elsewhere.


But in those same three years he'd seen his OPS+ drop from 132 to 104 to 90 and didn't play more than 9 games in the field in any of them (all at 1b). He might have been physically capable of still playing 140 or more games in a season, but that doesn't mean that his managers would have put him out there that much. Even leaving Reggie out of the equation under the assumption that they wouldn't have aquired him if they'd kept Kong, there were four other players on that team (the three outfielders and Ron Cey) who played 14-30 games at DH with OPS+ numbers greater than 100. I may not like Tony LaRussa much, but I think he was smart enough to realize that he would have been better off NOT playing Kingman every day.
   9. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 04, 2008 at 08:46 PM (#2660444)
As a Mets fan, the thought of Kingman in the HOF because he reached 500 HR makes me want to vomit. And I say that as one who used to emulate (or try to) his home run swing up at the plate as a kid.
   10. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2008 at 08:52 PM (#2660452)
But in those same three years he'd seen his OPS+ drop from 132 to 104 to 90 and didn't play more than 9 games in the field in any of them (all at 1b). He might have been physically capable of still playing 140 or more games in a season, but that doesn't mean that his managers would have put him out there that much.

As we agree, the A's probably weren't going to be the place for him, but absent collusion he'd have caught on somewhere. I mean, this was when 35 HRs meant something.

And he didn't have to play in the field - he can DH and get 550 PAs. He hit lots of HRs at one of the best HR/rates ever (14th), and that's including all of today's sluggers.

Just before that 132, Kong had posted 99 and 79, so him poting career average marks around 115 is certainly possible. And just getting a chance to hit in 1987 would have likely added at least one more free season. If he hits 45 in 1987, then he ends up with 550 HRs - more than Mike Schmidt. That would have definitely gotten him in. Killer would be the most likely comp, and delayed or not, I think he's going to be closer than some think.

And he's about as deserving as Jim Rice.
   11. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2008 at 08:53 PM (#2660454)
As a Mets fan, the thought of Kingman in the HOF because he reached 500 HR makes me want to vomit.

Eh, with some of these players being discussed these days, I'd prefer him over them.
   12. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 04, 2008 at 09:13 PM (#2660484)
Eh, with some of these players being discussed these days, I'd prefer him over them.


Maybe, Chris, but Kingman would still have easily been the worst BBWAA pick ever. Certainly among position players.

In fact, it could be argued that he would have been a worse selection than even George Kelly (I'm not including Tommy McCarthy because he was picked somehwat based on pioneer credentials). That's pretty bad.
   13. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 04, 2008 at 09:15 PM (#2660487)
And he's about as deserving as Jim Rice.


I honestly can't see that and I'm not a Rice supporter in the slightest, Chris.
   14. JPWF13 Posted: January 04, 2008 at 09:27 PM (#2660502)
Back in 1975/76 Dave Kingman was my favorite player.

But he's as bad a player as you could be with a career OPS+ of 115 in 7000 PAs.
His OPS+ probably had to be over 125 before he was a net(hitting defense running clubhouse) positive player.

But man oh man, no one left their seats when he was batting.
I still remember a Goose Gossage comment about Kingman- he looked forward to facing him every Spring Training- his goal was to throw the ball as hard as he could right down the middle of the plate- and hope King would hit it- he wanted to see how far a human being could actually hit a baseball.

Back in 1975/76 there was something wrong with MLB baseballs- they were soft and mushy (they changed manufacturers for 1977)- in 75 and 76 half the teams in the NL failed to reach 100 Homers
In 1976 just 4 guys in both the AL and NL reached 30 homers- but Kingman could launch those mushy balls 500 feet, over the OF bullpen and into the parking lot beyond.
   15. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2008 at 09:29 PM (#2660507)
Maybe, Chris, but Kingman would still have easily been the worst BBWAA pick ever. Certainly among position players.

Maybe. Overall, the BBWAA hasn't done too poorly. Didn't they elect Sutton?
   16. Chris Dial Posted: January 04, 2008 at 09:30 PM (#2660508)
I honestly can't see that and I'm not a Rice supporter in the slightest, Chris.

Too much hyperbole? I'm a bit steamed about Rice.
   17. Sam M. Posted: January 04, 2008 at 09:35 PM (#2660511)
I actually think that even if Kingman had somehow reached 600 HR, the BBWAA would never have voted him into the Hall. He was Steve Carlton and Albert Belle rolled into one uber-unfriendly package -- and there were more than enough holes in his resume that the writers could have taken out their dislike of him with their votes and justified it. They'd have pointed to his awful defense and his batting average and said, "No. He is just TOO one-dimensional."

And, to be honest, while June 15, 1977 was as bad a day for me as it was for Chris, the Kingman part of it was about 1%. Never liked him that much, really.
   18. Bob Meta-Meusel Posted: January 04, 2008 at 09:50 PM (#2660529)
I think he might even have caught on with the A's in '87... Reggie's 79 games at DH were the most on the team and he only put up an 89 OPS+... the thing is, looking at everyone who played 20+ games at DH in 1987, and assuming that after three years of barely setting foot in the field no one was going to try to start Kong much at 1b or at all in the OF, there isn't a single team where he looks like the best option to DH for 140+ games (especially when Larry Parrish led the league in games at DH with 122). The one that comes closest is KC where he probably would have been an improvement on 58 games of Steve Balboni and 26 of a mediocre year by Jim Eisenreich, but even there you have Brett playing 21 games at DH. Unless you've got a David Ortiz, managers really like rotating people in and out of that DH spot to rest them, ease them back from injury, etc. After the bad year in '86, I doubt people would have seen Kingman's bat as worth the loss of flexibility, hence less playing time.

In other words, yeah, 35 home runs still meant something then, but I'm not so sure it meant enough to keep him in the lineup every day anymore after the otherwise horrendous year at 37. Oh, I'd also throw in that 37 years old meant a lot more then than now too.
   19. Srul Itza Posted: January 04, 2008 at 10:07 PM (#2660546)
It was still an exclusive club, and Eddie Murray had to hold on just to crawl to 504. It was a HUGE deal for Murray to get there.

Of course, the 3,255 hits and the 1,917 RBI didn't hurt his HOF case. I think if he stops short of 500 HRs, he still makes it.
   20. BDC Posted: January 04, 2008 at 10:31 PM (#2660567)
As it is, Kingman got all of three votes in 1992 and dropped off the ballot. It's kind of hard to see 58 home runs getting him from 0.7% of the vote to 75%. We haven't mentioned the dead rat or the never appearing in the playoffs after his rookie season. Maybe if Kingman had become a respectable elder statesman and taken over the role that Dave Parker actually played on the A's championship teams in '88 and '89 ... but speculating that far gets you into she'd-be-my-uncle territory.
   21. Tracy Posted: January 04, 2008 at 10:40 PM (#2660573)
I think the only way Kingman would've had a Hall shot is if he'd managed to stay with the Cubs after 1980. His home OPS for his three years there were 932, 1048, and 946. A few more seasons there and he'd have cleared 500 easily, and probably pulled his average up to .250 or so.

And yes, he was certainly worth watching at the plate. Of course, he missed six weeks in 1978 (I think) when he pulled a hammy in left field.
   22. Walt Davis Posted: January 05, 2008 at 01:14 AM (#2660703)
he wanted to see how far a human being could actually hit a baseball.

Then he should have seen Kingman with the Cubs. I still remember one -- Jesus -- I swear it landed about half a block down Kenmore.

And didn't Percival do this with Bonds (in the World Series of all things!) who hit it about 700 feet. (maybe an exaggeration)

And I'll always remember one that McGwire hit off Hershiser. Hershiser watches where it lands and the camera catches him wide-eyed saying "Wow!"

There was one Leon Durham hit -- off a lefty of all things (Bedrosian? Holland? Some Philly reliever I think). In Philly. It was a laser. Upper deck at the Vet. It was out of there so fast that the cameras didn't get to the spot until after the ball had landed -- about 450 feet away. I don't think a ball has ever left a stadium faster and it wouldn't surprise me if it was still on its way up when it hit the seat. At a stadium with all those decks ... 600 feet easy. Although I was watching the TV at the time, I can't honestly say I "saw" it -- it was just a rocket. I do recall my jaw dropping at the swing though -- all you had to see was bat hit ball to go "Wow!" (Someone will now check and find that Durham never hit an HR off a lefty in Philly ... damn retrosheet! :-)

Still, although not as long, my favorite is Glenallen Hill onto the roof of one of the buildings across from Wrigley. Perfect match of player and event. What a mediocre player, awful mechanics, but I loved Glenallen Hill.

I will NEVER understand why the Red Sox never acquired Kingman. He rarely got to play in Fenway and almost all at the end of his career when he was in decline, but 13 HR in 84 PA, 816 SLG, 1161 OPS. The man did 4 things -- hit HR to left, hit flyballs to deep left, hit popups to short that burned up on re-entry (check the ground rules) and struck out.* At Fenway, those deep flyballs become HR and, heck, with a good wind some of those popups to short probably bang off the Monster. A season with 40, even 50, HR just at Fenway wouldn't have surprised me.

* That's not much of an exaggeration. In most years, the guy hit into fewer than 10 DP and he was damn slow.

As a Cub fan, my fondest memories are 79 of course -- 48 HR ... and in just 145 games. But I honestly wasn't sad to see him go.
   23. Nasty Nate Posted: January 05, 2008 at 01:36 AM (#2660726)
for us too young to have seen:

what was his swing like?
his stance?
what did he do when he hit a no-doubter?
how did he look striking out?
did he always pull the ball?
   24.     Hey Gurl Posted: January 05, 2008 at 02:11 AM (#2660747)
If you have mlb.tv you can watch the May 17, 1979 game where the Phillies beat the Cubs 23-22. Kingman had 3 HR in that one.
   25. Ron Johnson Posted: January 05, 2008 at 02:49 AM (#2660756)
Chris, I'm with Sam here. In general the writers start with the conclusion and work backwards. And if you're looking for reasons to vote no on Kingman it wouldn't be too tough to find them.

I doubt he'd have got any kind of support.
   26. JPWF13 Posted: January 05, 2008 at 02:54 AM (#2660760)
what was his swing like?
his stance?
what did he do when he hit a no-doubter?
how did he look striking out?
did he always pull the ball?


1: He always, on every pitch overswung and tried to hit the ball too hard.
2: Stance was generic and non descript- he was tall and lanky for the time 6'6" that's what was most noticeable
3: He really never showed much emotion, homer strike 3- not much difference
4: Yes

Also one last note he wasn't slow (As least before his mid 30s) he was lazy and accelerated poorly, but if he wanted to put his long stride to use he could move surprisingly fast- at times when his batting average had gone from bad to embarrassing (ie flirting with Mendoza)-he'd actually start dropping bunts for hits every now and then... If the camera caught it teh look on the 3b's face was usually priceless "WTF you have got to be effing kidding me"
   27. JPWF13 Posted: January 05, 2008 at 02:55 AM (#2660761)
oh, and he uppercut everything
   28. depletion Posted: January 05, 2008 at 03:08 AM (#2660767)
Yes. Special K was an excellent bunter and a good baserunner. Avid boating enthusiast.
Before he joined them, he used to kill the Cubs. I think they got the idea that he could do a good job given 81 games at Wrigley.

One memory. Mets at Wrigley, day game. Kingman hits the ball out. The replay shows the ball disappearing, then reappearing on its upward flight and destroying a window while entering someone's apartment across the street. Maybe that happened all the time, but I bet that was a bit of a shocker!
   29. Nasty Nate Posted: January 05, 2008 at 03:14 AM (#2660774)
Thanks
   30. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: January 05, 2008 at 03:24 AM (#2660777)
Before he joined them, he used to kill the Cubs.


Well, one anyway.
   31. Guapo Posted: January 05, 2008 at 04:02 AM (#2660787)
What was Kong rewarded with? Nothing. No contract. He finished second in the AL in home runs and got no contract. Okay, Kong wasn’t a jolly man, but 35 home runs in 1986 was a lot. It was a lot more than Jim Rice hit that year. So David Arthur Kingman retired from baseball.

Kingman actually played for Phoenix (SF's AAA affiliate) in 1987 after nobody offered him a major league deal.

Collusion didn't end Dave Kingman's career. Kingman's career ended because he sucked. He couldn't have played for a NL team because he couldn't play defense, and (quite rationally) no AL team was willing to pay money and give up a draft pick to sign a 38 year old DH with a .255 OBP and a reputation as a clubhouse cancer.
   32. Srul Itza At Home Posted: January 05, 2008 at 04:49 AM (#2660804)
Kingman actually played for Phoenix (SF's AAA affiliate) in 1987 after nobody offered him a major league deal.

I saw him there. Phoenix Firebirds.
   33. tkchap Posted: January 05, 2008 at 03:31 PM (#2660902)
I saw Kong hit a ball straight up into one of the holes in the ceiling of the Metrodome. The ball never came down. I remember the shortstop standing there waiting and then like ...??? what happened? This was in '84 I think.
   34. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 05, 2008 at 03:35 PM (#2660903)
The only guy before McGwire that I ever saw hit a home run with just one arm was Kingman around 1980.
   35. Chris Dial Posted: January 05, 2008 at 03:37 PM (#2660905)
no AL team was willing to pay money and give up a draft pick to sign a 38 year old DH with a .255 OBP

Well, I seriously doubt teams were particularly OBP centric in 1987, since they aren't in 2007.

The A's gave up that draft pick to sign a 41-yo DH that had hit about the same over the previous three seasons. The Red Sox had signed a 37 yo DH a year before. HRs were the general currency, and Kingman had them. Collusion was the largest factor in Kingman's retirement.
   36. DCW3 Posted: January 05, 2008 at 09:05 PM (#2661166)
Well, I seriously doubt teams were particularly OBP centric in 1987, since they aren't in 2007.

The A's gave up that draft pick to sign a 41-yo DH that had hit about the same over the previous three seasons.


Most teams might not have cared about OBP. Sandy Alderson certainly did, and Jackson's huge OBP advantage over was certainly a big reason they signed him, as is discussed in the Alderson section of Alan Schwarz's The Numbers Game.
   37. Tracy Posted: January 06, 2008 at 02:40 AM (#2661398)
Walt Davis (#22) wrote:

"Then he should have seen Kingman with the Cubs. I still remember one -- Jesus -- I swear it landed about half a block down Kenmore."

Maybe it was a different one, but with the Mets, he hit one off Tom Dettore that hit on the fly off the side of the fourth house on Kenmore north of Waveland. Just a ridiculous shot.

It was one of these two games:
http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHN/CHN197604140.shtml
http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHN/CHN197604150.shtml
   38. Dag Nabbit is a cornucopia of errors Posted: January 06, 2008 at 04:01 AM (#2661445)
The Kingman shot was the April 14 game, as the retrosheet play-by-play account makes clear.

Three days later this happened. In between, the Cubs blew a five run lead. Not the best week for the Cubs.
   39. PKeatingNY Posted: January 06, 2008 at 04:39 AM (#2661474)
Not only did Kong play for Phoenix-AAA in 1987, as #31 and #32 pointed out, he hit just .203 there with 2 home runs after signing on July 11. He slugged .356, 200 points below the numbers he posted in Phoenix on his way up in 1971. He was toast.

The Mets with Dave Kingman at 1B in 1982:

Wally Backman, 2B, 14 errors in 88 games
Ron Gardenhire, SS, 29 errors in 129 games
Hubie Brooks, 24 errors in 126 games
other 2B/SS/3B: 31 errors (!)

Kingman added 18 errors of his own. The man's dingers may have been fun to watch in the '70s, but by the '80s, he had this awkward way of bending one knee to the ground to try to scoop balls hit or thrown his way, which was just awful to watch. And it may have been an awful day for Mets fans when Kingman was traded for a sack of balls, but it was one great day when they got Keith Hernandez and sent Kong to the bench.
   40. Boots Day Posted: January 06, 2008 at 05:37 AM (#2661505)
The A's gave up that draft pick to sign a 41-yo DH that had hit about the same over the previous three seasons.

Most teams might not have cared about OBP. Sandy Alderson certainly did, and Jackson's huge OBP advantage over was certainly a big reason they signed him, as is discussed in the Alderson section of Alan Schwarz's The Numbers Game.


There's also the fact that the A's replaced Kingman by signing a free agent, which they supposedly weren't allowed to do, and was supposedly the reason Kingman didn't find any offers.

Collusion affected the high-dollar free agents; it didn't affect the mediocrities nobody wanted. Gary Ward still signed with the Yankees that off-season. Chris Speier still signed with the Giants. Reggie Jackson, as I noted, still signed with the A's. That's the class of player Kingman belonged with, not people like Tim Raines and Andre Dawson and Lance Parrish, who couldn't find any takers.
   41. Flynn Posted: January 06, 2008 at 05:43 AM (#2661506)
Kingman hit three home runs in the 23-22 game, and his third homer went way down Kenmore. I think it bounced off the side of the fourth house down, and then continued bouncing down the street.
   42. Dag Nabbit is a cornucopia of errors Posted: January 06, 2008 at 04:30 PM (#2661665)
Kingman hit three home runs in the 23-22 game, and his third homer went way down Kenmore. I think it bounced off the side of the fourth house down, and then continued bouncing down the street.

I feel pretty confident you're getting your games confused. I've looked up the newspaper account of the 23-22 game. It makes no mention of that. I looked up the newspaper account of the 4/14 game linked to in post #38. All the talk was about how far Kingman's blast went and how no one could remember one going that far up Kenmore like that. Had the blast gone 15 feet further, it would've smashed through the window of a woman watching the game on her TV.

Ten years ago a friend of mine told me Schmidt hit 4 homers in the 23-22 game. I think every homer hit in Wrigley in the 1970s has been associated with that game at some point or another.
   43. Howie Menckel Posted: January 06, 2008 at 04:54 PM (#2661679)
I remember the one off Dettore. UNbelievable.
Some guesses at the time were 600 feet; looks like Retrosheet references 550.

The Glenallen Hill one is amazing, and a powerful testimonial for "performance enhancers."
   44. Downtown Bookie Posted: January 06, 2008 at 06:12 PM (#2661725)
My favorite Kingman homerun memory was one he hit at Shea while he was still with the Giants. If I remember correctly, Jerry Koosman was on the mound, and Kingman hit one over the wall, literally out of the park, and through the window of the Giants' team bus, waking the bus driver (who was catching a nap during the game) in the process. My second favorite Kingman homerun was one he hit during his first spring training camp as a Met, against Catfish Hunter (who was in his first spring training camp with the Yankees after becoming baseball's first free agent millionaire). Because the area beyond the outfield wall wasn't well lit, watching on television you couldn't really see the ball come down; it just kept going and going until it disappeared into the Florida night. As far as I'm concerned, that ball may not have ever come down.

I loved Dave Kingman as a player, being (like Chris) a huge Mets fan as a teenager in the 1970's. However, looking back at his career it's obvious now that he was not a very good baseball player. According to Baseball-Reference.com Kingman's career OBP was only .002 higher than Mark Belanger's (.302 - .300), while his career fielding percentage (at firstbase only) was only .003 higher than Dick Stuart's (.985 - .982). But man, NOBODY looked away when Sky King came to bat.
   45. Boots Day Posted: January 06, 2008 at 06:20 PM (#2661728)
Ten years ago a friend of mine told me Schmidt hit 4 homers in the 23-22 game.

Schmidt did hit four homers in an 18-16 game at Wrigley Field in 1976. I can see how you could get those two games confused.
   46. Tracy Posted: January 06, 2008 at 06:21 PM (#2661729)
I remember also that when the ball hit the house on Kenmore, a woman living there opened her front door to see what had hit her house. A story about the shot (in SI, I think) mentioned that had it been a few feet to one side, it would've gone through a window and landed in her living room.
   47. Fridge Posted: January 06, 2008 at 06:56 PM (#2661747)
First, I have to admit in all fairness that I too was a kid and a Mets fan in this era and that Dave Kingman was my first favorite ball player, so this all comes with an admitted pro-Kong slant, but I think a lot of people are missing the original point being made here. Yes, Kingman had serious limitations as a hitter, was a frighteningly bad fielder, and would have been a problematic HOF selection in any era, but the point is that without collusion he probably would have hit comfortably over 500 HRs, and that probably would have put him in the HOF in the early 90s. Both of those points seem pretty clear to me.

He would only have needed about 700 more PAs to reach 500 HRs, and I don't see how he wouldn't have gotten that without collusion. As others have noted, you have to remember how much 35 HRs was in 1986. It was second in the AL and third in the majors- the equivalent of about 45-50 HRs in 2007 terms. There's no way, regardless of the AVG, that some team somewhere wouldn't have started him at least in 1987 if not also in 1988. Oakland didn't have a problem signing him and starting him in 1984 after two seasons with the Mets in which he hit .204 and .198. And yes, he didn't walk much, and he had some other troublesome metrics, but most front office officials in 1987 really weren't looking at that stuff much. Certainly, some were- one can debate whether Oakland specifically would have re-signed him- but it's just as certain that some GM would have signed a player with premiere power numbers regardless of his other metrics in that era. Even in our OBP-happy baseball world of today, can you imagine a player coming off a, say, 48 HR season and who had been hitting about that many homers consistently for years, not getting offered a major league contract? And if he did hit something comfortably over 500 HRs, he would have been hard to keep out of the HOF in the early 90s, desreving or not, given how few players had done it at that point. It's still the most glorified stat in baseball, and before guys like Palmeiro and Thome got there, the 500 HR club contained only the most hallowed names in the history of the game. If he was appearing everywhere else with the likes of McCovey, Williams, and Banks and had hit even more HRs than all of them (which is likely without collusion), it would have been at the very least a very close ballot. And yes, just those few more HRs, wins, or hits to pass milestones does mean alot to HOF voters. Just ask guys like Sutton and Murray- not to say that Kong is necessarily more deserving than those guys, but neither of them would have gotten in at 285 wins or 475 homers.
   48. Benji Posted: January 06, 2008 at 07:28 PM (#2661762)
I loved Kingman, even though I knew he wasn't a winning player. You have to remember how unwatchable the rest of that lineup was. At least you could watch him detonate a ball every 15 at bats.
   49. Dag Nabbit is a cornucopia of errors Posted: January 06, 2008 at 07:43 PM (#2661779)
without collusion he probably would have hit comfortably over 500 HRs, and that probably would have put him in the HOF in the early 90s. Both of those points seem pretty clear to me.

Clear to you but the second idea is the point of contention.

Say he played two more years and hit 500 homers. He retires in 1988 and makes the ballot in 1994. It's the same ballot Phil Niekro and Don Sutton are on. Despite them having the magic number 300, they ain't going in that year. Is Kingman going to get more support than Niekro? Whadaya suppose Kingman's batting average would've been had he played two more years. He hit .210 in 1986. Two more years (and 1000 AB) of that, and he's at .219 for his career. His case is far worse than those two.

In 1995 neither of those two get elected. Plus Mike Schmidt shows up on the ballot. That'll make Kingman look bad.

1996, the pair of 300 game winners still ain't getting elected. In fact, that was the first ballot in a quarter century no one got 75%.

1997, Niekro finally goes in. 1998, Sutton sneaks in barely over 80% of the vote. I don't see Kingman coming close to Sutton.

1999, Ryan, Fisk, Brett and Yount show up. No backloggers go in that year.

In the 1990s, magic numbers weren't so magical. All the arguments holding Sutton and Kingman down would've been used with far more force against Kingman. People didn't think the pitchers were all that great, but many argued Kingman just plain wasn't good. No one with 500 homers had ever been kept out, but no one with a batting average so low had ever been put in. The DH argument would've been used against him, too. Without it, he doesn't get to 500. He's 626th in career MVP shares.

If he's supposed to easily get in the Hall of the early 1990s as you say, when exactly? Were they going to support him more than Niekro?

By 2000, big homer totals from pre-1994 sound less impressive.

It's all immaterial, I don't see Kingman staying over 5% to last that long anyway.
   50. Boots Day Posted: January 06, 2008 at 08:04 PM (#2661798)
As others have noted, you have to remember how much 35 HRs was in 1986.

I would really like to see any contemporaneous accounts indicating that people within baseball thought Kingman was still any good at all at that point, 35 homers or no 35 homers. In the 1987 Abstract, Bill James had Kingman rated eighth out of 13 American League DHs, ahead of people like Roy Smalley and Jorge Orta but behind Ron Hassey and Andre Thornton, who had just got done hitting .229 with 17 homers for the 101-loss Indians.

James also filed the following comment on Kingman: "The thing about the Dave Kingman Hall of Fame debate is that almost nobody [except Chris Dial -- ed.] really thinks that he belongs in the Hall of Fame or has any real chance to get there. What he has is a chance to attain a single level of performance -- 500 homers -- which is usually associated with the Hall of Fame. I trust the judgment of the voters enough that I'm not really worried about their selecting him."

That's how I remember the prevailing sentiment of the time: Kingman wasn't a Hall of Famer, but people were afraid that if he reached 500 homers, someone would be foolish enough to put him in. No one, however, actually stepped up and proclaimed themselves to be that foolish.
   51. Fridge Posted: January 07, 2008 at 03:17 PM (#2662270)
I think that there can certainly be a close debate (as there would have been, I believe, at the time) about whether Kingman would have made the HOF with 500 HRs (again, I'm not arguing that he _should_ have, I'm arguing that he probably _would_ have), but there are a couple of more points to be made here.

As great a milestone as 300 wins is, 500 HRs was actually a much more exclusive club in the early-mid 90s. This is true both in numbers (about 14 players had hit 500 HRs, as the original argument notes, and about 20 pitchers had 300 wins) and in the status of players included on those lists. For several historical reasons not necessary to delve into here, the 500 HR list exclusively contained household names (Aaron, Ruth, Mays, Robinson, Killebrew, Jackson, Schmidt, Mantle, Foxx, McCovey, Williams, Banks, Matthews, Ott), but the 300 win list included many players only serious baseball historians were familiar with like Pete Alexander, Pud Galvin, Kid Nichols, Tim Keefe, John Clarkson, Eddie Plank, Charlie Radbourn, and Mickey Welch. While one can argue that the inclusion of so many early 20th Century pitchers on this list makes it more impressive to reach in the modern era, HOF voters tend to vote much more like fans than analytical baseball historians, and it's just a lot harder to deny a guy who's listed in the first club than a guy in the second. While it may be historically more impressive, far fewer sports writers will trumpet their picks as "having more wins than Eddie Plank!" than would trumpet their picks as "having more HRs than Ernie Banks!"

Also, as far as Bill James's ranking of Kingman in '87 goes, remember that in '87, Bill James was pretty far out of the mainstream thinking of baseball front offices, which were even more outmoded in their thinking than most fans. If Bill James is ranking him as the eighth best DH, most clubs would have put him higher, and doesn't it still seem odd that nobody would hire the fifth or sixth (or even eighth) best DH in the league? Again, I'm not saying that he would necessarily have started for Oakland, but not for _anyone_? I find that hard to believe, and I think the point about James's ranking supports that. I also think that it's dangerous to give the HOF voters too much credit. The HOF is certinaly no stranger to guys that "someone" was "foolish" to put in, and I think that Kingman had a very good chance of fitting that bill with 500 HRs.
   52. SoSH U at work Posted: January 07, 2008 at 03:38 PM (#2662293)
I also think that it's dangerous to give the HOF voters too much credit. The HOF is certinaly no stranger to guys that "someone" was "foolish" to put in, and I think that Kingman had a very good chance of fitting that bill with 500 HRs.


The biggest difference between Kingman and the other members of the 500 HR clubs is they actually belonged in the HOF. Moreover, 500 HR did not immediately punch one's ticket to Cooperstown. Mathews and Killebrew, much better players, each had to wait through several elections before getting in, so it was not like the BBWAA was giving these guys a free Hall pass. And the longer Kong had to wait, the less impressive his 500 HR would have seemed. Add the fact that few of the guys voting on Kingman liked Kingman, and I'm almost certain he would not have come close to sniffing Cooperstown.
   53. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 07, 2008 at 03:39 PM (#2662296)
I wish I could still remember which sportswriter it was, but he had a Q-and-A in the newspaper late in Kingman's career. A reader noted that Dave Kingman had a shot at 500 home runs, and if he made it, wouldn't he be a Hall of Famer? I can't remember the writer, but I remember the response word-for-word: "I don't care if he hits a thousand home runs. I saw him play."

"I saw him play." From a voting BBWAA writer, and it's tough to think of a reply colder or more cutting than that.
   54. Chris Dial Posted: January 07, 2008 at 03:55 PM (#2662305)
"I saw him play." From a voting BBWAA writer, and it's tough to think of a reply colder or more cutting than that.

Hell, there are writers saying that *NOW* about Blyleven and Raines (and Santo).
   55. Chris Dial Posted: January 07, 2008 at 04:13 PM (#2662320)
Say he played two more years and hit 500 homers. He retires in 1988 and makes the ballot in 1994. It's the same ballot Phil Niekro and Don Sutton are on. Despite them having the magic number 300, they ain't going in that year. Is Kingman going to get more support than Niekro? Whadaya suppose Kingman's batting average would've been had he played two more years. He hit .210 in 1986. Two more years (and 1000 AB) of that, and he's at .219 for his career. His case is far worse than those two.

Well, you are comparing apples and oranges. Kingman is a hitter; those guys are pitchers being compared to Seaver and Carlton. Plus, you are shortstacking Kingman like crazy. 1987 was a BOOM year. Offense jumped 10%. You are assuming Kingman doesn't benefit from any of that. The players that benefitted most were the HR hitters. Kingman would likely have hit 40 HRs, and then fell some to 25 in 1988, and then 15 or so in 89. So he winds up around with 522. MORE than Ted Williams!! Woot! or somesuch. So he comes on the ballot a year later.

1995 neither of those two get elected. Plus Mike Schmidt shows up on the ballot. That'll make Kingman look bad.

Does it really? He's not as good, but writers don't differentiate between position players very well. But yes, he gets to wait a year.

1996, the pair of 300 game winners still ain't getting elected. In fact, that was the first ballot in a quarter century no one got 75%.

Hitters and pitchers are different. But okay, Kingman just climbs in vote totals - similar to Mathews and Killer.

1997, Niekro finally goes in.

And why can't Kingman be the hitter elected here?

1998, Sutton sneaks in barely over 80% of the vote. I don't see Kingman coming close to Sutton.


Why? Is that analysis? Because he doesn't have to be similar to Sutton - hitters and pitchers are different (I think; I know you studied). So there you go - Kingman waits the same 10 years that Killer and Mathews waits. It isn't crazy. Yes, he still may not ever get in, but he gets votes. And I pointed out being a member of the 500 HR club has a LOT of money/prestige associated with it. When Ted Williams was on his last legs, teh exposure Kingman would have garnered from those shows would have upped his electability.

It seems the "lesser shoe-ins" merely had to wait 4-6 ballots. Nothing to dramatic.
   56. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 07, 2008 at 04:14 PM (#2662323)
The writer wasn't trying to convey "to these experienced eyes, he just doesn't look like my image of what a Hall of Famer should be." The message was "Kingman sucks."
   57. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: January 07, 2008 at 04:15 PM (#2662325)
The HOF is certinaly no stranger to guys that "someone" was "foolish" to put in, and I think that Kingman had a very good chance of fitting that bill with 500 HRs.


Fridge, the important stat you are forgetting is batting average. There is no way the writers would have put a slugger with no defensive value in the hall with a batting average of .236, much less someone in the .220's, which a Kingman playing through the 80's would have been. There was a huge debate at the time about Harmon Killebrew and his .256 batting average lowering the standards of the Hall, and he had 573 HRs, a MVP (and five other top 5 finishes), and a 13 time All-Star. There is no way, NO WAY, a .225 hitting, 525 HR, no top 10 MVP finishing, 3 time All Star Dave Kingman would get in. 500 HRs may have gotten him over 5% and a couple of years of ballot hang around time, but that's about it.
   58. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: January 07, 2008 at 04:19 PM (#2662331)
So he winds up around with 522. MORE than Ted Williams!! Woot! or somesuch.


And a lower batting average than Mark Belanger. C'mon Chris, you're old enough to remember Killebrew. Hell, even Raggie Jackson and Mike Schmidt had their detractors due to their low batting averages. Batting average has been at least as important as milestones to the Hall voters.
   59. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: January 07, 2008 at 04:26 PM (#2662335)
The writer wasn't trying to convey "to these experienced eyes, he just doesn't look like my image of what a Hall of Famer should be." The message was "Kingman sucks."


In Kingman's signature year of 1979, he was 11th in MVP voting behind two relief pitchers and Ray Knight among others. That was his career high water mark. One of the knocks against Gil Hodges is that he was never better than 7th in the MVP, and he had a bunch of HOF teammates to contend with. Only twice in his career was Kingman the top MVP recipient on his own team.
   60. AROM Posted: January 07, 2008 at 04:33 PM (#2662336)
I can't buy any of this.

In 1987 Kingman was 38 years old. His skills were declining. While his HR total was steady, his batting average goes from .260-.230-.200. He actually took a decent number of walks in 1985, but stopped doing that in 1986, hence the .255 OBP. Sure, some teams didn't care about OBP back then but if Kong's average keeps slipping who wants to play a sub - .200 hitter?

The fact that Jackson signed as a free agent tells me that collusion was not preventing Kong from getting a contract. The way the owners worked it was to collude against the guys whose original teams wanted to keep them. The A's didn't want Kong anymore, just as the Angels didn't want Reggie. As long as he wasn't looking for big money, collusion was not standing in his way of getting a job. Seems that Kong's salary demands weren't keeping him out of the game, not if he was willing to go back to AAA to keep playing.

What kept him out was that nobody thought he could play anymore. His AAA numbers support that evaluation. If he hit 15 homers in 100 AB in AAA, he likely would have gotten a job somewhere in 1987, but he just wasn't good enough anymore.

And there's no way he gets 75% of the votes, even if he had 500 homers.
   61. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: January 07, 2008 at 04:59 PM (#2662352)
To elaborate on the batting average thing. Dave Kingman currently sports the second lowest batting average in history among players with 6000 or more career (Kingman has 6677) ABs. Only Ed Brinkman and his .224 in 6045 is lower. Being extremely generous and giving Kingman two more years like 1986 gives him 512 career HRs and a .232 batting average in over 7500 ABs. You think anyone (or everyone) would bring up the fact that he had by far the lowest batting average in history among players with over 7500 ABs? For the record, the next worst is Darrell Evans and Graig Nettles at .248. Do you think having a batting average 30 points lower than Don kessinger (in a similar number of AB's) would be a point in his favor?
   62. Dag Nabbit is a cornucopia of errors Posted: January 07, 2008 at 05:41 PM (#2662398)
As great a milestone as 300 wins is, 500 HRs was actually a much more exclusive club in the early-mid 90s.

No one could hit 500 homers in the deadball era. In the liveball era, 14 hit 500 and 9 won 300 when Kingman would've hit the ballot.

and in the status of players included on those lists.

If Kingman makes it, the status of players on that list goes down tremendously. People didn't know who Eddie Plank was because he pitched so long ago. People just plain didn't think much of Kingman. As noted earlier in this thread, he couldn't even crack the top 10 in MVP voting when he nearly hit 50 homers (and only one other guy was over 35).

and in the status of players included on those lists. For several historical reasons not necessary to delve into here, the 500 HR list exclusively contained household names (Aaron, Ruth, Mays, Robinson, Killebrew, Jackson, Schmidt, Mantle, Foxx, McCovey, Williams, Banks, Matthews, Ott),

And why were there so many familiar names on the list? Because so many more players had recently joined the club.

far fewer sports writers will trumpet their picks as "having more wins than Eddie Plank!" than would trumpet their picks as "having more HRs than Ernie Banks!"

Don Sutton's case wasn't that he had more wins than Eddie Plank. It's that only 2 pitchers in the previous 70 years won more games. Forget Plank, he had more wins than Tom Seaver.

James also filed the following comment on Kingman: "The thing about the Dave Kingman Hall of Fame debate is that almost nobody [except Chris Dial -- ed.] really thinks that he belongs in the Hall of Fame or has any real chance to get there. What he has is a chance to attain a single level of performance -- 500 homers -- which is usually associated with the Hall of Fame. I trust the judgment of the voters enough that I'm not really worried about their selecting him."

Also, as far as Bill James's ranking of Kingman in '87 goes, remember that in '87, Bill James was pretty far out of the mainstream thinking of baseball front offices

Can you find any evidence of anyone ever saying Kingman was a Hall of Famer when he played? I remember the 1980s - arguing Kingman wasn't a Hall of Famer was most certinaly not outside mainstream thinking here.

If Bill James is ranking him as the eighth best DH, most clubs would have put him higher

?

Why? This makes no sense. Do front offices automatically assume every player is two slots better than James thought? What killed Kingman was batting average. Do you really think teams paid less attention to batting average than James?

Well, you are comparing apples and oranges.

You're arguing a big magic number would get him in. Let's look at other guys with big magic numbers. If that's a person's main claim, they had trouble getting in.

1987 was a BOOM year. Offense jumped 10%.

Batting average went up by 3 points. I still assume his batting average remains around .210. And the next year, 1988, offense went back to where it was. Kingman was getting older and declining in general. I don't see him hitting over .210.

You are assuming Kingman doesn't benefit from any of that. The players that benefitted most were the HR hitters. Kingman would likely have hit 40 HRs,

Exactly two men hit more than 34 homers in the AL in 1987.

and then fell some to 25 in 1988, and then 15 or so in 89.

If he hits 24 homers at age 39 with a batting average around .200, no one will take him the next year.

So he winds up around with 522. MORE than Ted Williams!! Woot! or somesuch. So he comes on the ballot a year later.

Why? Is that analysis?

Is your article analysis?

It seems the "lesser shoe-ins" merely had to wait 4-6 ballots.

Only if Kingman was held on the same level as them. I remember Sutton and Niekro when they were in the 200s wins. They were seen as good or really good pitchers if not great. Kingman wasn't in their class.

I can't believe I got sucked into this debate. Arguing 500 homers would get Dave Kingman into Cooperstown in absurd on the face of it.
   63. Chris Dial Posted: January 07, 2008 at 05:42 PM (#2662399)
C'mon Chris, you're old enough to remember Killebrew. Hell, even Raggie Jackson and Mike Schmidt had their detractors due to their low batting averages. Batting average has been at least as important as milestones to the Hall voters.

I agree. And I think this is really what would have been keeping him out. Brooks Robinson had these issuesdiscussed when he was up for election. I know that would have been a problem. But again, even short of HOF election, they *couldn't* keep him from the 500 HR Club posters. Check those out from 1995. they had all thoese guys around to sign. It was a big big deal.

And articles like this mattered. (This is why 500 HRs is different than 300 Wins - a lot of those guys hit 300 wins (and a few more close)

"In the first 120 seasons of major league baseball, which brings us through the 1995 season, 14 players hit 500 home runs. From 1972 through 1983, only one player, Willie McCovey, joined The Club. And from 1988 through 1995, nobody reached 500 home runs."

That's a very powerful statemnet.
   64. Boots Day Posted: January 07, 2008 at 06:18 PM (#2662445)
Chris, can you find anyone at all who was saying in 1985 or 1986 that Kingman either would have made or should have made the Hall of Fame had he reached 500 homers? It seems a big part of your argument is that the writers, who were too dumb to know about OBP, would have been blinded by the homers, but my recollection is that they weren't. As the James quote indicates, nobody really thought Kingman had a chance, which is how I remember it too.
   65. Roadblock Jones Posted: January 07, 2008 at 07:11 PM (#2662521)
I grew up a huge Kingman fan too, warts and all. To me the great unknown of his career was whether he'd have reached 56 HRs in 1976 had he not broken his wrist in an attempt to field.

He was on pace for 50some when that injury occurred in July. He missed about 6 weeks and *still* finished 2nd in the NL in home runs that year. So 56+ was a possibility.

Breaking that record plus 500 dingers... maybe that gets him some more consideration. But it was not to be.
   66. Traderdave Posted: January 07, 2008 at 07:14 PM (#2662525)
There's been a lot of ink spilled on Kingman over the years, and his personality is always mentioned. What was he like? Anecdotes besides the dead rat? (that one gets repeated often, was it his only gaffe?)


Also, I never knew until today that he played AAA ball in '87. Was he really offered no MLB job at all, or (as I suspect) did he decline lowball offers while trying to prove himself in Phoenix?
   67. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 07, 2008 at 07:37 PM (#2662554)
One other thing I remember about Kong was that he always started growing a beard in September for hunting season.
   68. Chris Dial Posted: January 07, 2008 at 08:58 PM (#2662676)
The fact that Jackson signed as a free agent tells me that collusion was not preventing Kong from getting a contract.

Have you looked at Reggie's contract? He took a huge paycut, *AND* he did it just to come back to his roots and retire as an A.

As long as he wasn't looking for big money, collusion was not standing in his way of getting a job. Seems that Kong's salary demands weren't keeping him out of the game, not if he was willing to go back to AAA to keep playing.

He didn't have to look for big money. He had taken a huge paycut the previous season and went out and finished second in the league in HRs. The AAA contract doesn't resound with me. He's plenty pissed he wasn't given a real contract, I'm sure, and wasn't happy with the prospect of having o "win" one. I can see a player not having his heart inthat - that doesn't mean the evaluation was right at all.
   69. AROM Posted: January 07, 2008 at 09:20 PM (#2662705)
Second in the league in homers and Kingman was still a replacement level DH. I can't see that he deserved a real contract.

If he had started the year as a DH for somebody I'm not convinced he was still good enough to have held the job. I didn't even know he played AAA until today, his performance there seems to confirm that he was done.
   70. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: January 07, 2008 at 09:29 PM (#2662715)
He had taken a huge paycut the previous season and went out and finished second in the league in HRs


And last in the league in batting average, by a pretty healthy margin. Kingman's .255 OBP was the 5th lowest of the 80's. The 4 people worse than him and the 5 people better than him were all in their 20's and were valuable contributers on defense. Of all the players to post an OBP of less than .300 in the 80's, only gold glove catcher Bob Boone, gold glove second baseman Frank White, and Steve Garvey were as old or older than Kong. Garvey was to play 27 more games the rest of his career. Going back to the 70's, only Brooks Robinson and Luis Aparicio accomplished the feat at age 37+. There's simply no precedent for a player of that age and no defensive attributes continuing his career after such an anemic batting performance.
   71. JPWF13 Posted: January 07, 2008 at 09:38 PM (#2662726)
What was he like? Anecdotes besides the dead rat? (that one gets repeated often, was it his only gaffe?)


Generally as fans all we get are anecdotes...

The impression the media fostered, which may or may not be accurate, was that he was moody, aloof, uncoachable, lazy, [insert random personality negative here].

The general impression was that he seemed to take no great pains to make himself a better player. He didn't HAVE to be as a bad a fielder as someone like Greg Luzinski- he had a better arm, he ran better, he seemed to know where a batted ball was headed early enough- but

he was just as awful if not worse.

I've read about his approach to batting practice- did he work on anything? Pitch recognition, going the other way, not popping up? Nope, he "worked on" BP the same way I go about it at a golf driving range- trying to answer the question "gee just how far can I hit the ball?"

His home runs provided real value of course, but he may just have been replacement level- or worse- at literally every* other aspect of the game. He was an extremely poor position no matter where he was tried, he had the raw tools to at least be average, but never put them to use.
He was a poor baserunner, he wasn't slow when young- but was a poor baserunner nevertheless.
His BABIP was awful, just awful, .252 for his career- keep in mind that many power hitters have BABIPs better than average- and he hit the ball damn hard- when he hit it- and he wasn't that slow, and was willing to bunt for hits...

Pop ups, his whole career, pop ups, as others have mentioned, the highest pop ups you've ever seen, not random occurances either, all the friggin time.

* Oddly enough, he could bunt reasonably well.
   72. AROM Posted: January 07, 2008 at 09:54 PM (#2662743)
Nobody hit popups higher than Kong. Didn't his popups the roofs of domed stadiums now and then?

If we could put a freakshow Hall for extreme abilities, regardless of how valuable they were to winning games, he'd go in.

Rob Dibble and Mark Wohlers for their fastballs.
Bo Jackson for all around athleticism.
Herb Washington for speed.
That guy who threw the 'ephus'.
Jose Lind for being able to jump over cars.
   73. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: January 07, 2008 at 09:59 PM (#2662752)
If we could put a freakshow Hall for extreme abilities, regardless of how valuable they were to winning games, he'd go in.


That would be the Steve Dalkowski HOF

Rob Dibble and Mark Wohlers for their fastballs.
Bo Jackson for all around athleticism.
Herb Washington for speed.
That guy who threw the 'ephus'.
Jose Lind for being able to jump over cars.


Ron Hunt.

Rip Sewell threw the ephus.
   74. Boots Day Posted: January 07, 2008 at 10:01 PM (#2662755)
Terry Mulholland for his pickoff move.

You know, this has been a really interesting discussion about a player who's fun to talk about. The fact that Chris is dead wrong in his fundamental premise shouldn't detract from that. Thanks for bringing up the topic, Chris.
   75. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: January 07, 2008 at 10:08 PM (#2662766)
Shawon Dunston for his throwing arm
Eddie Gaedel for his OBP.
Charles "Victory" Faust for his mascotability.
   76. Srul Itza Posted: January 07, 2008 at 10:14 PM (#2662778)
Just ask guys like Sutton and Murray- not to say that Kong is necessarily more deserving than those guys, but neither of them would have gotten in at 285 wins or 475 homers.

Why do people keep forgetting that Murray ended up with 3,255, 12th all time and 1,917 RBI, 8th all time? The 500 home runs may have been why he was First Ballot, but with that many hits and RBI's, he was going in.
   77. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: January 07, 2008 at 10:22 PM (#2662798)
Why do people keep forgetting that Murray ended up with 3,255, 12th all time and 1,917 RBI, 8th all time? The 500 home runs may have been why he was First Ballot, but with that many hits and RBI's, he was going in.


Absolutely. After 1995, Murray had 479 HR, 3071 hits, and 1820 RBI and had just batted .323 for an historic team. He was a mortal lock at that point.
   78. spycake Posted: January 07, 2008 at 10:44 PM (#2662822)
Jose Lind for being able to jump over cars.

Does Joey Gathright get in too?
   79. Ron Johnson Posted: January 07, 2008 at 10:51 PM (#2662829)
Let me second Boots here. I'm reasonably confident that Chris' central premise is wrong but I'm glad that Billy Beane wrote the article.
   80. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 07, 2008 at 10:52 PM (#2662830)
There's simply no precedent for a player of that age and no defensive attributes continuing his career after such an anemic batting performance.

The Twins did bring back Rondell White for the 2007 season.

You know, this has been a really interesting discussion about a player who's fun to talk about. The fact that Chris is dead wrong in his fundamental premise shouldn't detract from that. Thanks for bringing up the topic, Chris.

Agree.
   81. Boots Day Posted: January 07, 2008 at 10:52 PM (#2662832)
Ozzie Smith for his backflips.

Joe Charboneau could open beer bottles with his eye socket.
   82. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 07, 2008 at 10:54 PM (#2662834)
John Kruk for navel depth.
   83. Best Dressed Chicken in Town Posted: January 07, 2008 at 11:12 PM (#2662855)
Well, I seriously doubt teams were particularly OBP centric in 1987, since they aren't in 2007.

Don't have to be OBP-centric to realize .255 is horrendous.
   84. JPWF13 Posted: January 07, 2008 at 11:15 PM (#2662862)
The Twins did bring back Rondell White for the 2007 season.


and gave him 119 PAs...
   85. Chris Dial Posted: January 08, 2008 at 02:43 AM (#2663006)
I am very glad people are enjoying the discussion. I can't imagine Jim Rice is really that close to being a HOFer. HE shouldn't be. Compare him to the HOF LFs, and he stinks. And some of those guys shouldn't be in the HOF. I don't care to compare him to players that aren't in the HOF.

I looked more at Mathews track record. HE got a low percentage for the first few seasons (Killer did not - he happened to come out when FRobby and Aaron were eligible). I think Kong could have gotten 20% of the vote, and as I've mentioned several times, even being not elected, the difference between 475 HRs and 500 HRs is a ridiculous number of appearances and a level of immortality.

And thanks again.
   86. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: January 08, 2008 at 02:44 AM (#2663008)
The Twins did bring back Rondell White for the 2007 season.


First, White was 34 in 2006, not 37.

Second, I'm pretty sure he was already under contract for 2007. No way the Twins give him a $2.5 million contract in 2007 (the exact same he got in 2006 after hitting .313 in 2005) after hitting .246/.276/.365.
   87. Boots Day Posted: January 08, 2008 at 03:27 AM (#2663048)
I can't imagine Jim Rice is really that close to being a HOFer.

That's another good topic. What does everyone think about Jim Rice's qualifications for the Hall?
   88. Chris Dial Posted: January 08, 2008 at 03:32 AM (#2663055)
I think they stink. But I am a small Hall guy.
   89. Anthony Giacalone Posted: January 08, 2008 at 06:26 AM (#2663137)
That was a cool but completely ridiculous conclusion, Chris, based on an absurd premise and a complete disregard for an historical reality that I know you remember. Now tell me how Mookie would have gotten 2800 hits and made the Hall of Fame!
   90. Jose Canusee Posted: January 08, 2008 at 04:46 PM (#2663368)
For the Dalkowski HOF: Wasn't it Joe "Tarzan" Wallis that was known to dive into hotel pools from the room window or roof?
Some early Giants article told about mgr Charlie Fox trying to cheer Kingman on as he fumbled grounders in an attempt to make him a 3B as they had a full outfield and 1B spot. Funny that the A's tried to do the same with McGwire.
One Oakland memory of Kong: 8th inning, 4-4 tie vs. Yankees (5/25/84 on Retrosheet). A's start a 2-out rally and score. Jay Howell walks in another run to make it 6-4. Yogi brings in someone named Curt Brown to face Kong with the bags full, everyone is tense with the "Jaws" theme, they flash a message with a person's name who would win a car if there was a grand slam. IIRC, the first pitch goes out of the park.
   91. Ron Johnson Posted: January 08, 2008 at 06:32 PM (#2663484)
Anthony, were you were around for Alex Goddard's argument about Mookie Wilson's Hall of Fame case.

For those who missed it, in 2001 in a discussion that had long since left the rails Alex came out with the following:

"There are players on the current ballot (Rice, Conception, Tiant) who I regard as Hall of Fame-calibre players. There are others not on the ballot who I also regard as Hall of Famers (Mookie Wilson, for one)."

To which I replied: "OK, I'll bite. What on earth is Mookie Wilson's HOF case?"

"Clutch performer, solid otherwise. His numbers are as good as lots of others, except he didn't play as long"

And I swear I'm not making this up. I asked who he thought was Wilson's best comp. And he replied, "Kirk Gibson"
   92. Anthony Giacalone Posted: January 09, 2008 at 06:28 AM (#2664141)
I don't see how I can argue with that logic either, Ron. Thanks.
   93. Scott Fischthal Posted: January 12, 2008 at 06:55 PM (#2667000)
Just saw this thread and thought I needed to add a coda linking it to the now infamous data sliced, selective endpoints case for Jim Rice in the HOF. You know the one:

"Jim Rice hit more homers than anyone in the AL for a 12 year stretch"

presented as evidence of his being a dominant and feared hitter. The stretch in question is 1975-86, and Jim Rice hit 350 homers.

Dave Kingman hit 365.
   94. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 12, 2008 at 07:13 PM (#2667010)
If Kingman had played in Fenway, there would have been more than a 15-homer gap, too. Of course, Rice was still the superior hitter by far.
   95. Scott Fischthal Posted: January 13, 2008 at 04:34 AM (#2667244)
<quote>Rice was still the superior hitter by far</quote>

Without question. It just points out how silly the arguments for Rice have gotten in the mainstream media.

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