Sunday, August 5, 2012

#204 Junior Kennedy - Chicago Cubs

Junior Kennedy wanted to play so badly that he often took the field before anyone else was at the ball park and ran the bases.

Ok, all kidding aside, since he isn't wearing a helmet it looks like Kennedy is partaking in a pre-game running drill.  Although no more than 32 years-old when this pic was he is looking more senior than Junior in these pics. 

This is Kennedy's fifth Topps card and you may recall his '79 rookie card in which he dons a plain red helmet.

Player:  Junior Kennedy was a first round pick of the Orioles in 1968 but never made it up to Baltimore.  After the '73 season he was traded to the Reds in the Merv Rettenmund - Ross Grimsley trade.  Kennedy made his major league debut with the Reds in '74 and was mainly used to rest Joe Morgan in late inning blow outs.  He went 3-19 in this role and didn't return to the majors until 1978. 

With Joe Morgan getting older, the Reds kept Kennedy with the big team in '78 and he started 41 games at second base in both '78 and '79.  He batted .255 and .273 and walked about in about ten percent of his plate appearances. Kennedy's lack of any power was his downfall as he slugged under .340 both years.  Even during his good minor league seasons he never had more than 25 extra base hits.

After Morgan left in 1980, Kennedy's role expanded and he started 92 games.  He batted .261/.325/.335 and showed good range at second.  Ron Oester emerged as the starter in '81 and Kennedy played little, knocking 11 hits in 44 at bats. 

Kennedy was sold to the Cubs and they used him semi-regularly in '82.  Batting 271 times in a career best 105 games his average slipped to .219.  By the end of the season Ryne Sandberg had moved from third to second.  Kennedy played just 17 games in '83 and was released in August which turned out to be the end of his career. 

Flipside: Not a lot to say here other than Kennedy's lack of power is evident.  Only 39 XBH's through 1,019 career at bats.

Oddball:  After playing at AAA Indianapolis for four straight seasons Kennedy somehow ended up property of the Giants in '77.   I can't find a record of his transaction going from the Reds to the Giants but it is known that the Reds bought him back after he tore up AAA Fresno at a .316/.408 clip.

History:  Kennedy's career started as an understudy to Joe Morgan and ended backing up Ryne Sandberg, two of the greatest secondbasemen of all time.  Kennedy retired with a .248/.325/.299 line in seven years of action.  He was regarded as a good glove man during his day, which is supported by his 2.6 career dWAR.

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