A Biography in 1,000 Players No. 92 Harmon Killebrew (Number 10 First Base)

Just to let it be known, Harmon Killebrew is my favorite player. However, I didn’t give him any extra points, but I did always know where he was when developing this formula. However, I did put things into the formula which hurt Killebrew in the rankings.

Killebrew has a poor ball in play average. One of the reasons I remember is he hit a lot of fly balls. Killebrew was strong and he hit the ball in the air. Some of his fly balls were in the air a long time. Unfortunately, that gave the outfielder awhile to go get the ball. However, it also led to some long homeruns. He hit one out of Comiskey I remember watching on TV. That ball flew over everything. I think the Twins lost 5-1. Killebrew after hitting it just trotted around the bases with his head down. That is what he did when hitting a homerun, trot around the bases with his head down.

Killebrew in one way at looking at WAR had the highest negative number for defense of all the hall of fame position players. Therefore, some of the people on the site concluded he was the worst fielder. However, when you look at it in detail that isn’t true. Let’s compare Killebrew and McCovey by position. At first base per season, Killebrew was 1 run below average per season (1,200 for Baseball Reference). McCovey was 5 runs below per season, giving Killebrew the victory.

Let’s try left field. McCovey was 9 runs below average. He was so bad he played only 256 games in left field. Killebrew was -6 runs per game in left field but has to play 471 games there as he wasn’t as bad as McCovey. What kills Killebrew is that he played 791 games at third base where he was 10 runs below average. He was quite frankly a terrible third baseman. I’m sure Killebrew and the team knew this. Yet the Twins kept moving him to third. The good news for McCovey is he couldn’t play third as he was left handed. In 1969 they hired Billy Martin a great baseball mine. He had a young third baseman coming to the team with him name Graig Nettles. Martin decided to keep Killebrew at third. Killebrew moved back to third base as Rich Reese took over at first when Killebrew came back from an injury. That was nice, “Oh we were you were hurt, let’s move you to a more difficult position you haven’t played in a couple of years to welcome you back.”. Killebrew did it.

So, playing third based screwed him up and he couldn’t hit and got to move back to third base. No, Killebrew went out and won the MVP as the Twins won their division with 97 victories. A quiet determined man.

 

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Author: Douglas Byzewski

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