RIP Harmon Killebrew

We here at notinhalloffame mourn the loss of Harmon Killebrew, An amazing Minnesota Twin and one of the best power hitters of all time.  The Hall of Fame Baseball star will be missed well beyond the borders of Minnesota.
Last modified on Thursday, 19 March 2015 18:47

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0 #3 Darryl Tahirali -0001-11-30 00:00
Harmon Killebrew was a classic one-tool player and an exemplar of the Three True Outcomes of hitting: BB, SO, HR. Indeed, Killebrew is the Godfather of subsequent TTO hitters such as Mark McGwire, Jim Thome, and Adam Dunn, sluggers who are more apt to walk, strike out, or hit a long home run than most other players.

I do not mean to frame these comments in a backhanded manner. Nor is this in any way a comment on his passing. Killebrew handled his own demise with grace, courage, and dignity in a manner that surpasses all his baseball accomplishments.

No, these comments are to note that Killebrew was in some very significant ways ahead of his time. During his playing career, he was thought of as a player who could "only&q uot; hit home runs and drive in runs. Of course, he hit a lot of home runs, and usually pretty far; he retired fifth in all-time home runs, and only Babe Ruth hit them more frequently. And although RBIs are considered overrated by today's statheads, somebody has to drive 'em in, and Killebrew drove in 100 or more nine times, leading the league in RBIs three times.

But Killebrew never hit for average, did not run (his 19 career stolen bases are balanced by 18 caught-steal ings), and he was a defensive liability wherever you put him, particularly at third base or in the outfield. His forte was the big fly--and one talent underrated during his career but which now drives the Moneyball crowd into paroxysms of ecstasy: he could take a walk. A lot of them.

Killebrew led the AL in walks four times (in intentional walks three times), and is 15th all-time in walks. He sports a respectable .379 on-base percentage, more impressive considering his batting average is just .256. It's tempting to say that opposing teams just pitched around him, but those Senators/Twi ns teams had, early in Killebrew 9;s career, Jim Lemon and Bob Allison in the lineup, adding Tony Oliva and Rod Carew later in the 1960s.

Killebrew was the AL MVP in 1969, with 49 HR, 140 RBI, 145 BB, and a .276/.427/.5 84 line. But his more impressive year might have been in 1967: 44 HR, 113 RBI, 131 BB, .269/.408/.5 58. The numbers are lower than 1969, but the difference is that in 1967, pitchers threw from the 15-inch mound, and in 1969 it was lowered to 10 inches. The difference? In 1968, MLB proved that pitching dominated the game when Bob Gibson recorded an amazing 1.12 ERA and Denny McLain posted 30 wins, the last man to do so. Killebrew came in second in MVP voting in 1967. The first-place player? Carl Yastrzemski, who only became the last player--so far--to win the hitting Triple Crown (Killebrew did tie with him in HR).

As for the third True Outcome, strikeouts, Killebrew is currently 22nd lifetime, but his acolyte Adam Dunn is only nine K's behind him as of this posting; Dunn will easily surpass Killebrew--p robably this week--unless he retires tomorrow. The difference now is that strikeouts don't have the stigma that they did back in Killer's day.

Is Harmon Killebrew a Hall of Famer? For what he did in his time, while pointing the way to today's sluggers--ye s, indeed. Keep hittin' 'em a country mile, Harmon, wherever you go.
0 #2 Knuckles -0001-11-30 00:00
Paul Bunyan, indeed.
0 #1 Frillacak -0001-11-30 00:00
The Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame slugger Harmon Killebrew has succumbed to esophageal cancer. The pride of Payette, Idaho, 11-time MLB All-Star and 1969 American League MVP was 74 years old. The Associated Press reports that Killebrew passed away peacefully in his sleep at his Scottsdale, Ariz., home on Tuesday, accompanied by wife Nita and their family. I read this here: Baseball great Harmon Killebrew, 74, has died, ([censored]:// He will always be remembered.

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