Saturday, July 01, 2006

Ed Kranepool

The Mets are slumping, not hitting, beset by nagging injuries, and the most exciting player in the major leagues has been optioned to Norfolk. But they still have a double-digit lead, so no analysis will be forthcoming at this point.

On to another topic. The other day, I caught an SNY feed of a Mets game and Ed Kranepool briefly joined the Mets' broadcasters for a non-eventful chat. Gary Cohen, I believe, referred to him as one of the most popular Mets of all time. As someone who was there from the start, I beg to differ. I'm sure Ed is a nice guy, good family man, very bright, business savvy, and wealthy beyond my wildest expectations. This doesn't change the fact that he was one of the biggest disappointments in Mets' history. I will grant that he had some very big hits in 1969. His contributions to the team over time were considerable, if only because he kept getting chances, probably because no one else wanted him. But to me, he will always be the prime example of how frustrating it was to be a Mets' fan in the sixties.

The Mets signed him for a huge bonus. He was a local kid from the Bronx who shattered Hank Greenberg's records at James Monroe High School, big and strong, and proclaimed as the young star who would lead the way. He was thrust into the major leagues, but from the start he played much older than his age. He was not only slow, but he always looked like he was playing in slow motion. His power numbers were extremely disappointing. He'd get off to a blazing start one year, but before long, he was down to his customary .260 range. There have been many worse players on the Mets for sure, but how many teams can win a pennant with a slow-footed first baseman who'll hit .260 with 10 homeruns and 50 rbi's. Yet, that was a typical season for Kranepool. Despite that, the Mets kept him around for years and years. At the time Kranepool signed, the Houston team, the Colt .45's, signed the similarly touted Rusty Staub. The Mets were very fortunate to later acquire Staub who did some fabulous work for them. Did Kranepool have even one year to compare with Staub ? If you're not old enough to remember him, just take a look at Kranepool's year-by-year stats on baseball-reference.com. Then, ask yourself, how did a guy with these kinds of numbers, (and whose "intangibles" were either to put it kindly, negligible, or probably more accurately, negative) stay on the same team year after year ? Because no one else would want him, that's why. Kranepool does not even have another major league equivalent - baseball-reference lists Jim Spencer, but I always thought Spencer was a superior glove, and anyway, how many people would proclaim Spencer as anything other than a journeyman. Kranepool was no journeyman. He never played anywhere in the major leagues, except for the Mets. He was merely mediocre. And considering the expectations for him, that makes him my least favorite Met ever.

4 Comments:

Blogger Kranepool said...

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3:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The comment was that Kranepool was one of the most 'popular' Mets, not one of the 'best.' Most of your argument actually supports that position, not dispute it. As a mediocre player part of the reason he was able to stick aroud so long was because he was popular. I too have been around since the beginning, and Kranepool clearly is one of the most popular Mets of all time.

11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You forget Krane was a great pinch hitter later in his career - hitting .396 in this role from 1974 thru 1978. He still holds the single season pinch hitting average of .486 (1974). He hit 3 pinch homers in 1978 including a walk off on opening day of that year. He also played in a tough hitter's ball park and in a time when pitching dominated.

6:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually there were periods when Ed Kranepool carried the team with his hot hitting. Then he'd crash back down to earth as the Mets lineups usually featured weak hitters and Hall of Fame quality pitching. But Ed became a cult hero to many frustrated Mets fans who suffered through some horrific losing seasons. He'd pinch hit in the eighth inning in a hopeless cause with the team behind and the fans at Shea would go crazy. From what I've heard, Krane made countless appearances on the team's behalf at hospitals, Little League dinners, and Rotary Club meetings. Not many players today would bother with that stuff. The Krane did and he still does. He's a hero to many. So what if he didn't have Mantle's statistics? Mickey wouldn't give fans the time of day.

5:19 PM  

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