The 2005 Dave Kingman Award
by Armas Batista, Baseball Evolution
October 18, 2005
Well, its that time again. Time to give out the post-season hardware. I can think of no where better to begin than by handing out the 2005 Dave Kingman Award, "to the Player Doing the Least with the Most."
First of all, so as to not appear unappreciative, I would like to congratulate Dave Dellucci on his performance this season. Dave entered the 2005 season with 44 career home runs in 9 seasons, and then broke out for 29 this year. Quite impressive.
Unfortunately for Dave, his 65 RBIs and .251 AVG make him a candidate for the AL Kingman this season. Fear not though, Dave you scored 97 runs in just 128 games and managed an OPS of 870. Impressive indeed. No Kingman for you!
The Dunner was our favorite whipping boy this season after stating in Spring Training that he needed to learn to take fewer pitches early in the count. Much to our lack of surprise, Big Adam's AVG slumped 19 points this season to .247, and he hit 6 fewer home runs than he did last year. With 40 home runs and a .247 AVG, Dunn is an excellent Kingman candidate.
Unfortunately for Adam Dunn, who may in the end turn out to be the next Dave Kingman, he comes up a bit short this season. Despite his ridiculous 134 hits in 160 games, Dunn walked plenty, struck out less than last year, and scored 100 runs and RBIs. Sorry, Adam. Don't worry you'll get one before its all over and Dunn with.
I can not lie when Jay Gibbons followed up his 23HR 100RBI performance of 2003 with a 10-47 performance in 2004, I was fantastically disappointed. Therefore, I was very excited that Gibbons came back this season to the tune of 26 HR and a .516 SLG.
Gibbons actually had a solid season, despite the fact that he only drove in 79 and only scored 72. He managed to keep his Ks down, striking out 56 times (which is 8 fewer than last season, and he played 42 more games this season). His runs and his RBIs, combined with his .317 OBP make him a Kingman candidate, but his 833 OPS and his .277 AVG prevent him from taking home the hardware.
A caveat I knew for a fact that Burnitz was going to suck this season for the Cubs, since he played in Colorado last season and it was his only good season out of his last three. Truth be told, he did not in fact suck, and actually fared much better than the guy he replaced in rightfield for the Cubs.
In fact, despite his .435 SLG and his 87 RBI/84 runs in 160 games, Burnitz comes up short of the Kingman. Interesting, Burnitz hit the 600 at-bat mark for the first time 1998, and yet struck out the fewest times he has ever struck out in a full major league season. Because of this, and his robust .322 OBP, Burnitz comes up short, or rather, not short enough.
A little story bunch of years ago, my brother Eric and I took in a New Orleans Zephyrs game. We were rather unimpressed with a Zephyrs team which included Adam Everett and Morgan Ensberg, but we were taken with Jason Lane immediately, cheering wildly for him for no reason whatsoever.
That having been said, I was very excited to see Jason Lane "bust out the woopin' stick" this season with 26 home runs after managing only 4 in 107 games in 2004.
Nevertheless, Lane's season was a bit one dimensional 32 Walks to go with 105 Ks; 65 runs and 78 RBIs despite the 26 home runs, and despite getting 500 at-bats; a .316 OBP. I am confident that Jason will only improve next season, but if he doesn't, maybe he can try again at the Kingman, because he narrowly missed it this year.
I picked the Cleveland Indians to win the AL Central this season, and Casey Blake was one of the reasons for that. Really thought he was ready to break out this year. Instead, he broke down.
Blake hit 23 HR this year. But that is where the good news ends. To go with those 23 homers, he scored only 72 runs, and had an embarrassing 58 RBI in 523 at-bats. His batting average dropped 30 points to .241, and his OBP dropped 46 points down to .308. His OPS was a laughable .746. Not what we were looking for, Casey. But never fear Kingman would have been proud.
Perhaps the most shocking thing about Joe Crede this season was that he was better this year than last. He raised his OBP up over .300, raised his SLG 36 points, and his average went up as well.
Nonetheless, Crede finds himself a Kingman candidate because, despite his 22 home runs, he managed only 62 RBI and only 54 runs. Had he played a full season (only 132 games) he would have probably won out, but never fear Crede you truly did the least with the most this year.
Call it a sophomore slump. Call it big league adjustments. The rigors of playing a full season. Whatever. Morneau followed up a fantastic 2004 season in which he hit 19 home runs in 74 games by hitting 22 homers in 141 games. His SLG fell 99 points, and his OBP went from a decent .340 to a terrible .304, and he managed only 62 runs and 79 RBI in 141 games.
Unfortunately for Barajas, he is ineligible for the Kingman Award for two reasons he is a catcher, and he only played 120 games. So, his 21 home runs is a bonus, regardless of his other stats.
His other stats, nonetheless, are in fact Kingman-esque. He scored only 53 runs and drove in only 60 RBIs, which means he did very little when he wasn't hitting home runs. He walked only 26 times, and his OBP was a paltry .306. The good news for Rod is that his AVG, OBP, and SLG were all better than last year, so he may be getting better.
Don't be fooled by the 74 RBI and 66 runs that go with the 21 HR. Don't let the .768 OPS or .236 AVG get you down. This guys is a hoss, and should only get better.
Soriano was, frankly, too good to legitimately contend for the Kingman he went 30/30, and managed over 100 runs and RBIs. However, his other stats were truly Kingman-esque 33/125 BB/K ration, .269 AVG, .309 OBP, .512 SLG. He would produce fewer runs, he'd be in easily.
You know, lots of players can hit homeruns but do little else. It is easy to stroke a low batting average and hit a lot of homers. In short, lots of guys can do very little with a lot.
But it takes a special quality to earn the Kingman. You cant describe it, but you know what it is. Kingman had it. Tony Batista had it. Tony Armas had it. Just that certain quality that sets the truly unproductive players apart from all the others.
Pedro Feliz has this quality.
As Keith, Scott, and I sat at a Dodgers Spring Training game in Vero Beach this past Spring, we became aware that there was an article about "The Secret Weapon" in Baseball Weekly. The crux of the article was that the Giants were not only not worried about Barry Bonds being injured, they were actually happy to have Barry out of there, because it meant that now they would get to use Pedro Feliz more.
Needless to say, the three of us were merciless. By the end of the game, everyone around us knew in no uncertain terms exactly how we felt about Pedro Feliz. We were not merely skeptical of the possibility that Feliz would do well this year, we were adamantly sure that he would not. There was no doubt the Giants were full of baloney.
Well, "The Secret Weapon" did not disappoint. In 156 games, Feliz managed to walk only 38 times. He scored 69 runs and drove in 81 RBIs, despite his 20 home runs. His .250 AVG was rivaled only by his .422 SLG. But the clincher was the OBP.
The clincher for any Kingman clone, the separator if you will, is the OBP. Pedro Feliz's OBP this season was .295. There is no way around it if you can't get on base better than 30% of the time, you are truly doing very little with what you have. Remarkably, Feliz's lifetime OBP, through 6 seasons, is .290. Kingman-esque indeed!
So, congratulations Pedro Feliz. You are the 2005 Dave Kingman Award winner.