Saturday, September 14, 2013

An Unusual Stat Regarding Dave Kingman

Photo by Ed Leyro/Studious Metsimus (although technically it was taken by the security dude)

Back in July, I had the pleasure of meeting former Met first baseman/outfielder Dave Kingman.  Although Kingman was sometimes unapproachable as a player, I found him to be quite affable and a pleasure to talk to.  And after taking a few photos and having a short conversation about his two stints as a Met, I realized that I had rarely written anything on Kingman.  I had also rarely done any research on the player known as Sky King during his time with the Mets.  So today I'm going to kill two birds with one Kong blast.

I was looking at Kingman's career and found something very unusual about his 1982 season.  Besides hitting 37 home runs on a team in which there were no other hitters who managed more than 13 homers, Kingman also "slugged" only nine doubles.  That's 37 homers, nine doubles.

For someone known to hit the ball a long way, I found it odd that Kingman managed to hit so few doubles in 1982, especially when he played so many road games in the cavernous Busch Stadium and Astrodome.  I also wondered just how rare it was for someone to finish a season with 30 or more homers and fewer than 10 doubles.  The answer?  Let's just say Ike Davis has more stolen bases this year than there are players with that homer/double combo.

In 1955, Gus Zernial of the Kansas City Athletics became the first player in major league history to collect 30 homers in a season where he failed to hit 10 doubles.  Zernial hit 30 HR for the A's while managing to collect only nine two-base hits.  Forty-five years later, Mark McGwire joined Zernial on this list when he swatted 32 homers for the St. Louis Cardinals.  McGwire hit only eight doubles for the Cards in 2000.  McGwire came close to repeating the feat in 2001, but fell one homer short.  Big Mac hit 29 HR in his final season in the majors, while clubbing a mere four doubles.

In between Zernial and McGwire, there was Dave Kingman.  In 1982, the Mets' first baseman launched a then-franchise record 37 home runs, but only managed to hit nine doubles.  A flurry of two-baggers in September almost prevented Kingman from joining this exclusive club, as Kong collected four of his nine doubles in the season's final month.  From June 23 to August 28 - a span of over two months - Kingman played in 54 games and had 213 plate appearances.  He hit 14 homers in that time period but did not have a single double.  That's zero in the 2B column.

2B or not 2B.  That was the question with Dave Kingman in 1982, and more often than not, it was not 2B for Kingman in the doubles department.  Kingman is one of only three players in major league history to amass 30 or more home runs in a season he failed to reach 10 doubles.  Furthermore, Kingman's 37 HR are the most of any player on this short list, five more than the amount hit by Mark McGwire in 2000.

Dave Kingman truly had one of the most unusual offensive seasons in 1982, not just for the Mets, but for any hitter in baseball history.

1 comment:

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