Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I Bet YOUR Favorite Player List Doesn't Include THIS Guy.....

One of my favorite players of all-time in baseball is probably a guy you've never heard of, and that's okay. I'm not even quite sure why I latched onto him like a barnacle, but I did.

Ken Phelps was a lefthanded-hitting first baseman/DH who played mainly for the Seattle Mariners, and a few years with the Yankees toward the end. He was no Hall of Famer, no All-Star, but I thought he was the bee's knees.

Phelps: A fellow August 6 baby

Phelps fascinated me because he was, without question, one of the most efficient homerun hitters the game has ever seen. Here are some of his yearly stats, courtesy of

1984 SEA 290 AB 24 HR .241 BA
1986 SEA 344 AB 24 HR .247 BA
1987 SEA 332 AB 27 HR .259 BA
1988 SEA/NYY 297 AB 24 HR .263 BA

Now, those are some awesome HR/AB ratios, don't you think? The batting averages are mediocre, and he struck out a TON, but Ken Phelps was this hidden power gem that nobody ever mentioned, it seemed.

And, we shared the same birthday (August 6), so that made him even more cool in my book.

I'm not sure how I found out about Phelps' power spikes, considering he was playing for the Mariners when I first was made aware of him. Regardless, once I unearthed him, I was careful to keep him to myself. I realized that the one thing more cool than Ken Phelps himself was not telling anyone about him, as if I was the only one who knew who he was.

I always wondered why, with those power numbers, Phelps wasn't more of a full-time player -- even as a DH, for his glove work was unsightly. Maybe he couldn't hit lefty pitchers. But Phelps lasted about a dozen years in the majors, almost always with lousy teams. Even the Yankees were subpar when Phelps played for them in 1989-90.

Projected over 600 at-bats, Phelps would have consistently hit 50+ homers every season in those years indicated above. And I don't think he was a steroid user, either.

Ken Phelps: the greatest homerun hitter you (probably) never heard of.

TOP TEN LIST: Day IX (and final day)

Okay, guys, I'm kind of wimping out here. I realized how difficult picking just ten closers would be, so let me just name a few that struck my fancy:

Lee Smith (Cubs and St. Louis)
Rollie Fingers (Oakland, Milwaukee)
Bruce Sutter (St. Louis)
Goose Gossage (Yankees, Seattle)
Mariano Rivera (Yankees)
John Hiller (Detroit)
Jeff Reardon (Boston/Minnesota)

To name a few.

Picking these Top Ten lists was a whole lot more nerve-wracking than I thought. That's mainly because of what happened: Cal Ripken, Jr. being omitted from shortstops, and Paul Molitor from first base/third basemen.

My apologies, gentlemen.


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