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The 2007 Dave Kingman Award
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The 2007 Dave Kingman Award
“Doing the Least with the Most.”
by Asher B. Chancey,
November 21, 2007

As you are all well aware, the 2007 baseball season saw a significant reduction in the number of homeruns being hit by major league baseball players. While the season featured two 50 homerun hitters (which people simply must remember is two more than the 1980's produced at all), players as a whole hit 429 fewer homeruns than they did they year before.

So what does this all mean regarding the Dave Kingman Award? Will this be the year that we are forced to give the Award to someone with fewer than 20 homeruns? Will this be the year that someone wins the awards with an on-base percentage over .300?

Oddly enough, despite the power shortage, this year’s Kingman candidates are just as good, if not better, than ever. Before we announce the winners of this year's Dave Kingman Award, let's take a look at the Kingman Runners-Up:

Andruw Jones, CF, Atlanta Braves

Key Stats – 154 games, 26 homeruns, 83 runs, 94 RBI, 70 BB 138 K, .222/.311/.413/.724

Remember 2005, when Andruw Jones looked like he was ready to mature into an elite baseball player? Well, Jones came all the way back down to earth in 2007, and put up the worst numbers of his career. Now 31 and a free agent, we have to wonder whether we are about to see a decade of Andruw Jones' center field prowess in a new uniform, or whether Jones’ career is nearing its end. His walks and homeruns were essentially the only way he got on base in 2007.

Geoff Jenkins, LF, Milwaukee Brewers

Key Stats – 132 games, 21 homeruns, 45 runs, 64 RBI, .255/.319/.471/.790

I feel bad for Geoff Jenkins – he toiled for the Brewers for a decade, and now as the team appears destined for greatness, Jenkins has been told that he is part of the past. Not that you can blame the Brewers. Jenkins hit 21 dingers in 2007, but barely managed 100 combined runs and RBI.

Jason Bay, LF, Pittsburgh Pirates

Key Stats – 145 games, 21 homeruns, 78 runs, 84 RBI, 59 BB, 141 K, .247/.327/.418/.745

Jason Bay was 28 in 2007, but declined like he was 38. The only statistic in which he improved was double plays, hitting into seven fewer than the year before, but that is probably what happens when you simply stop making contact with the ball. In truth, this is not an award Bay should ever be eligible for, because he is usually on on-base machine. Not this year.

Khalil Greene, SS, San Diego Padres

Key Stats – 153 games, 27 homeruns, 89 runs, 97 RBI, 32 BB, 128 K, .254/.291/.468/.759

A fan wrote to me this summer and said something along the lines of “Hey, how about that Khalil Greene? I bet you didn’t think he was a hitter, did you?”

Guess what? I still don’t. Of the players discussed so far, Greene is the most Kingman-like. 2007 was the first season in which Greene played more than 139 games, and the first in which he had over 484 at-bats (for the record, he played 153 games and had 611 at-bats). Nevertheless, in addition to setting a career high with 27 homeruns, 44 doubles, and 128 strikeouts, Greene managed the second lowest walk total of his career with 32; in 2006 he had seven more walks in 199 fewer at-bats. In a lesser year, I would have no qualms with giving the Dave Kingman Award to Khalil Greene.

Jermaine Dye, RF, Chicago White Sox

Key Stats – 138 games, 28 homeruns, 68 runs, 78 RBI, 45 BB, 107K, .254/.317/.486/.803

Honestly, I expected some decline from Dye’s career year in 2006, but this was ridiculous. He lost over 200 points on his OPS, nearly scored half as many runs and RBI as the year before, and watched his average drop 61 points. And that was after a resurgent second half of the season. Dye followed a career year with a career-worst year. What should we expect next year?

Josh Fields, 3B, Chicago White Sox

Key Stats – 100 games, 23 homeruns, 54 runs, 67 RBI, 34 BB, 125 K, .244/.308/.480/.789

Only the Chicago White Sox could lose one Kingman candidate (Joe Crede) and promptly replace him with another. True, Fields’ runs and RBI totals are not as unimpressive as they appear given that he only played in 100 games, but look at that strikeout per game rate! That is prolific. And this guy appears to be allergic to taking a walk.

Richie Sexson, 1B, Seattle Mariners

Key Stats – 121 games, 21 homeruns, 58 runs, 63 RBI, 51 BB, 100 K, .205/.295/.399/.694

Richie Sexson may be the worst non-injury return on a huge contract in the history of baseball. In 2006, Richie was deceptively bad. This season, there was no way to disguise how bad Richie was. Knowing that the Mariners paid Sexson $15 million for this performance is the type of thing that makes you start to think of all the people in the world who could be fed for a year for that amount of money. Richie Sexson is Exhibit A for the argument that baseball contracts should be heavily weighted in favor of performance bonuses and away from guaranteed money.

Sexson wasn’t the worst player in baseball in 2007, but he was definitely the worst player for the dollar. Right now, J.D. Drew is somewhere in Boston thinking, “Come on, Richie, do SOMETHING to earn your money.”

Sammy Sosa, DH, Texas Rangers

Key Stats – 114 games, 21 homeruns, 53 runs, 92 RBI, 34 BB, 112 K, .252/.311/.468/.790

How bad of a season was it for the Texas Rangers? Sosa played 114 games after missing all of last season and being four years removed from his last good season, and led the team in homeruns while finishing second in RBI and doubles. That Sosa kept his OBP over .300 is impressive; that it was over .310 is astonishing. Sosa was a surprisingly productive player in 2007 (which is to say he was productive at all), and I even hesitated before including him on this list!

Marcus Thames, OF, Detroit Tigers

Key Stats – 84 games, 18 homeruns, 37 runs, 54 RBI, 13 BB, 72 K, .242/.278/.498/..776

This is really an “Honorable Mention” because Thames only played 86 games in 2007. But what he accomplished was impressive – almost a strikeout per game, on pace for roughly 25 walks over a full season, 18 homeruns but little other offense, and that .278 on-base percentage.

Pedro Feliz, 3B, San Francisco Giants

Key Stats – 150 games, 20 homeruns, 61 runs, 72 RBI, 29 walks, 70 strikeouts, .253/.290/.418/.708

That's right, Pedro Feliz has managed to not win the Award for 2007. Obviously, Feliz was no slouch – 20 homeruns and an OBP ten points under .300 is tasty. Additionally, Feliz has continued to refuse to budge from his ethic of only driving in runs by hitting homeruns. But the voters have grown tired of The Secret Weapon. You can almost hear then saying, “Why only 20 homeruns, Pedro? Why not 25 or 30?” And how is someone supposed to vote for Pedro Feliz when he only strikes out seventy times? A few more walks, and his K/BB ratio would have been under 2:1!

Pedro turns 33 next year, and will apparently be leaving the San Francisco Giants. He still has some good years ahead of him, so we probably haven’t heard the last of him. But for 2007, Pedro just got on base too much, didn’t hit quite enough homeruns, and didn’t swing and miss nearly enough to keep up with this year’s most Kingmanesque players.

Ladies and Gentleman, its gives me a great sense of honor and pleasure to announce the 2007 Dave Kingman Award Winners:

American League – Juan Uribe, SS, Chicago White Sox

150 513 563 55 120 18 2 20 68 1 9 34 112 0.234 0.284 0.394 0.678 0.254 74 -22.4

At some point we are going to have to acknowledge that there must be something in the water on the South Side of Chicago. No fewer than four Kingman clones – Joe Crede, Jose Valentin, Juan Uribe, Josh Fields – have starred for the Sox the last few years, and a handful of others have had Kingmanesque seasons. As for Uribe, his 2007 was a dandy – 20 homeruns without managing 70 RBI or 60 runs in 150 games is classic. His 34 walks and 112 strikeouts is typical. His average in the .230s, on-base in the .280s, slugging well under .400, and OPS under .700 – well, that is stuff dreams are made of. Congratulations to Juan Uribe, the 2007 American League Dave Kingman Award.

National League – Chris B. Young, CF, Arizona Diamondbacks

148 569 624 85 135 29 3 32 68 27 6 43 141 0.237 0.295 0.467 0.763 0.349 89 -13.1

It has been a true joy to watch the emergence of Chris B. Young as a true Kingman clone this season. In a year in which homerun production was down around the league, Young finished tied for tenth with none other than Albert Pujols with 32 homeruns. But Young is no Pujols. Look at that .237 average! Look at that .295 on-base percentage! He hit 32 homeruns without getting his slugging percentage over .500 (or .470 for that matter). His OPS+ was under 90, and he struck out almost 100 more times than he walked. Pujols could never accomplish these things.

There is a little known story that I would like to share about Chris B. Young. On September 22nd, Young’s on-base percentage sat at .299432, which rounded down to .299. Had his OBP gone over .300, Young would have been in serious danger of not winning the Kingman Award. Bob Melvin, the Arizona Diamondbacks' manager, offered to let Young sit, rather than risking having his OBP go up over .300 in the final week of the season. But Young declined – he didn’t want to win the Dave Kingman by percentages or technicalities; he wanted to earn it. So, Young played on, and in his final six games, he managed to reach base only seven times in 27 plate appearances. When all was said and done, his OBP was well below .300, leaving no doubt in his mind of in the mind of players, coaches, and fans that Chris B. Young was truly the Dave Kingman Award winner.

If one wonders to what Young owes his special Kingmanesque qualities, one need only look to his minor league pedrigree. Though Young was a rookie with the Diamondbacks this season, he is actually a product of none other than the Chicago White Sox minor league system. To the White Sox front office, this has to feel like a sweep – the Diamondbacks may have the player with the hardware, but the White Sox brass will know that they developed both 2007 Kingman Award winners into the players they are today.

Today is a great day for Chris B. Young, but one does have to wonder one thing about Chris B. Young: Can Chris B. for Real? He is only a rookie, and he would not be the first rookie to struggle to get on base early on but learn plate patience and bat control as he matured as a player. Also, with his kind of power, it may only be a few seasons before he is batting third, fourth, or even fifth in the Diamondbacks order, which would definitely drive his RBI totals upward.

But that is all in the future. For today, Chris B. Young can enjoy his Dave Kingman Award. We’ll not worry about what he will do tomorrow, but rather enjoy what he has earned, today.

Questions? Concerns? Comments? Asher lives in Philadelphia, PA, and can be reached at