Whether facing a camera, microphone, a guest on his show Kiner's Korner, or a 95 MPH fastball, Ralph Kiner demonstrated excellence in everything that he did. He passed away on Thursday at the age of 91, leaving behind a Hall of Fame legacy both on the field and in the broadcast booth.
If it wasn't for a back injury that forced his early retirement at the age of 32, we may already know Ralph Kiner as the greatest home run hitter of all-time. Instead, the fact that Kiner was more than a commentator is sometimes forgotten by the modern fan. Incredible, when for an eight year span, he hit home runs with Ruthian dominance.
Ralph Kiner led the league in home runs seven consecutive seasons between 1946-1952. To put that in perspective, Barry Bonds led the league in homers only twice in his career. And what makes Kiner's home run hitting prowess so amazing is how many more he hit than the next most powerful hitter in the league at the time, Stan Musial.
|Period||Home Run Leader||Second Leader||% Difference|
|1946-1953||Ralph Kiner (329)||Stan Musial (221)||48.9%|
|2006-2013||Albert Pujols (291)||Miguel Cabrera (287)||1.4%|
In modern day terms, if Albert Pujols were to hit 49% more home runs than the next best power hitter, Miguel Cabrera, he would have had to hit 136 additional home runs over the past seven seasons, or nearly 20 more home runs per year.
More than just a power hitter, between 1947-1952, playing at the same time as some of baseball's greatest legends, Kiner was one of the most valuable players in baseball. His fWAR between 1947-1952 was fourth highest, trailing only Stan Musual, Jackie Robinson, and Ted Williams.
|3||Ted Williams||Red Sox||3164||159||626||183||40.5|
|5||Pee Wee Reese||Dodgers||3991||64||415||110||29.9|
As the name of this baseball site suggests, we attempt to look beyond the box score when evaluating the game of baseball. Ralph Kiner was an all-time great baseball player. But he was also a commentator who found a way to look beyond the traditional ways of broadcasting. He had a unique style, often times mixing up names, jumbling sentences, and offering other idiosyncrasies that this writer has himself. His viewers could relate to him, while also awe at his baseball knowledge.
Ralph Kiner will be remembered by generations of Mets fans for his work as a broadcaster. Baseball fans should remember that he was also one of the greatest ballplayers, too.
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