Kong, one of the greatest power sluggers in baseball history, ranked 20th all-time on the career long ball list when he hung up his spikes. Since then he has fallen to 35th place on the all-time list, ahead of such legendary HOF sluggers as Billy Williams, Duke Snider and Johnny Bench, to name but a few. Kingman hit the ball far, but his detractors will tell you that’s all he did.
The first overall pick in the June Draft of 1970, Kingman joined the parent club in 1971 and hit a respectable .278; he would only top that mark once in his career. In 1972 he blasted 29 homeruns, but his long ball totals fell the next two years. But in 1975, Dave cemented his status as one of the game’s top flight long ball threats when he crashed 36 balls over the fence. Those 36 homers topped Major League left fielders.
Kingman finished second in homeruns with 37 in 1976. Used primarily as a right fielder that season, Kong topped Major League right fielders with a .506 slugging average. In 1977, Dave set a record that has yet to be duplicated when he blasted a homerun with four different teams in the same season. The big man wore the threads of the Mets, Padres, Angels and Yankees during the ’77 season. Granted free agency by the Yankees after the season, Dave signed with the Cubs and had his greatest seasons playing in Wrigley Field.
Hitting .230 during the 1970s was a stretch for Kong but when he caught on with the Cubs in ’78, he started putting up respectable batting averages. He hit a combined .227 in 1977 with four teams then upped his mark to .266 with the Cubs in ’78. At the top of his game in 1979, Kong led the National League in homeruns (48) and slugging average (.613). Dave was the only National League left fielder with 100+ RBI and he paced his position peers in runs scored. Named to the NL All-Star team, Dave had a career high .288 batting average.
Dave was hitting the ball just as well in 1980 when injury struck and limited him to just 81 games. Before the ’81 season started, the Cubs traded him to the Mets for outfielder Steve Henderson. The Mets used Kong as a first baseman in ’81 and he tied Hall of Famer Eddie Murray for most homeruns by a Major League first baseman.
Unable to hit for the high averages he hit in Wrigley, Dave’s power numbers didn’t suffer however. He led the National League in homeruns during the 1982 season despite an unflattering .204 batting average. When his batting average fell below .200 in 1983, the Mets lost interest in their slugger and released him.
Dave began his tenure with the A’s in 1984 when they signed him to be their designated hitter. In his first year as a DH, Kingman paced all designated hitters with 35 homeruns and 118 RBI. The following year, 1985, Dave tied Don Baylor for most RBI by a DH. His final year, 1986, as an unusual one for a player taking his final bow. He crushed 35 homeruns–a record that still stands for a player in his final year.
G 1,941/R 901/H 1,575/2B 240/3B 25/HR 442/RBI 1,210/SB 85/BB 608/SO 1,816/BA .236/SA .478/OBP .302