posted on Apr, 3 2006 @ 01:59 PM
CAREER GRAND SLAM LIST
(Please remember, the fun list-making game I thought of will begin on May 1, after I file this monster brief of mine.)
I am going to begin by giving y'all the bottom half of the Top 10 Career Grand Slam List:
8-10. Dave Kingman, 16. Don't those of you who remember Kong just KNOW pitchers walked other hitters with first base open, knowing of his pitiful
career batting average and telling themselves he was only a "mistake hitter?" Then 16 of them proceeded to throw some "mistake" that turned into one
of the "1 in 15 at bats" he was famous for, but with the bases full?
I remember the guy very well, and say whatever else you want to about him, he was a GREAT clutch hitter. I specifically recall three grand slams with
the A's in 1984. In his final season (1986), he won three games with walk-off HR's for the A's--one off Ron Frickin' Guidry, on whom I'd laid
$160/100 on the road. Just grooved a 3-2 fastball to Kingman, the pitch he was born to kill, and Kingman hit it to the top of the LF bleachers, into
the teeth of a strong bay breeze--in the bottom of the 9th. I still remember Lon Simmons' going nuts on the radio. I was going nuts, too, but not in
the same way....
8-10. Hank Aaron, 16. Not as good a HR/AB hitter as Kingman. When you've said that, you have run out of things to say on Kingman's side of the
8-10. Babe Ruth, 16. In the final years of his career, he looked a lot less physically impressive than the 6'6" Kingman.
6-7. Jimmie Foxx, 17.
6-7. Ted Williams, 17.
OK. Now I will give clues for the rest of them:
#4-5, PART ONE. 18 grand slams.
This guy is generally regarded, I think, as a disappointment in the sense he didn't have as great a career as was expected of him. And I can't see
his getting into the Hall of Fame, nor would I dream of voting for him.
But with that said, I think he was a very fine player for a lot of years. If Cooperstown does summon him someday, well, they've got dozens of less
qualified members. Purists will squawk about his enshrinement, but only for a brief while, before they go back to the really egregious injustices.
I won't give his position, but he was an infielder whose big position was not 1B. And he was very good. For his career, he committed 14% fewer
errors than the average contemporary player at his position. He also had well over 10% better range than average. In a corner outfield position,
those stats don't translate into many runs, but for a guy who played 1,887 games at this position, that makes a huge difference. And I'm not the only
one who was impressed. The dude won SIX Gold Gloves in the 1990's.
On offense: He played his career in pitchers' parks, and most of it with a team with an immense tradition of losing. He had mediocre runs created
stats, but scored and drove in over 1,000 runs, hit nearly 300 HR's and had well over 300 doubles. He was an abysmal base stealer, but had the good
sense to accept that fact and stop trying. In one season, he had 31 doubles, 34 HR's, 105 RBI's and 96 runs scored. Put that together with his
fielding, and you've got a near-great player, given his position and those GG's. What you DON'T have is someone you would expect to hit 18 career
grand slams, much less be in this kind of company.
4-5, PART TWO. 18 grand slams.
This man played in the 1960's and 1970's. He was not a good first baseman, and was a horrible left fielder, but he was one of the most devastating
power hitters of all time. Had he played in the 20's and 30's, it is frightening to contemplate how many HR's he would have hit. As it is, he hit
over 500. Though dwarfed by a greater teammate in his 20's, he had a hellacious season in 1969, at age 31, leading the league by 17 points in
on-base, by 49 points in slugging (over Aaron), by 1 in HR's (ditto), by 3 in RBI's and by 9 in runs created. He led the league by almost 15% in HR
per at bat. And then there's intentional walks. The #2 man in the league that year was Hank Aaron, with 19. This guy had 45.
And, as you'd guess from the over 500 HR's, this guy was no one-year wonder. Besides being in the Hall of Fame, he had fantastic slugging averages in
the context of the brutal 1960's, the era of sky-high pitchers' mounds and reduced scoring. From 1962 through 1970, his slugging averages were: .590,
.566, .412, .539, .586, .535, .545, .656, .612.
For those of us who saw and remember this man, trust me: It is frightening to contemplate what he would have looked like, with his 6'4" body and
incredibly massive wingspan, if HE had gobbled the stuff modern cheaters gobble. He had a significantly better career HR/AB ratio than Mays or
3. 19 Grand Slams
A recent Hall of Fame inductee. People who place emphasis on huge seasons will never give this guy the credit I do. I consider him probably one of
the five best first basemen of all time. The well-known stat on him is that he drove in 75 or more runs for 20 consecutive seasons, winding up
with 504 HR's and 1917 RBI's. But he never hit more than 33 HR's--an amazing stat for a member of the 500 HR club--and never drove in more than 124
runs. Never led the league in batting, slugging, runs scored, total bases or runs created, but was as steady a player as you could want... which is
why that word was in his nickname.
Retired in 1997.
2. 20 grand slams A currently active player who should have several years left in him. A controversial figure, but I like the guy and
I've never heard him linked to HGH, steroids, etc. Has almost a .600 career slugging average, which no non-cheater with 10 or more full seasons
(except hopefully him) since Ted Williams has been able to say.
#1. 23 grand slams Pure logic dictates this guy should be #1. He played on phenomenal teams, including the one which is still named, far
more often than any other, as the greatest of all time. Played for the same team his entire career, and, although almost all experts agree he was the
greatest ever at his position, he almost always had a teammate who was better, including the ultimate better player, who tended to get walked a hell
of a lot AND batted .342 for his career. Since the two men at the top of the order were also solid, this guy got an inordinate number of chances to
bat with the bases loaded, and being a fantastic hitter in his own right (.340 lifetime average, with loads of power), he delivered 23 grand slams in
his tragically shortened--but RBI loaded--career.
HOW MANY OF THESE FIVE CAN YOU NAME?
(Hootie, please give others a one-day head start.)