Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Forgotten Stars Pt. 8: Ellis Kinder

When a team that has as long a history as the Red Sox it is natural to have players who have been largely forgotten. These are some players who simply do not get mentioned anymore or are largely forgotten.
Ellis Kinder was part of one of the greatest trades in Red Sox history.  Kinder had been in the Major Leagues for just two years, despite the fact that he was already 33 when he was acquired by Boston.  The Red Sox sent three spare parts to the St. Louis Browns for Kinder and another player just one day after sending six other spare parts to the Browns for Vern Stephens and Jack Kramer.  Kinder, Kramer, and Stephens were all major parts of the Red Sox core for the next few seasons and none of the players sent to the Browns amounted to much.

Kinder had a good season in 1948 and was a reliable pitcher, going 10-7 with a 3.74 ERA in 178 innings.  But it was his 1949 season that really guaranteed him a spot in Red Sox history.  That season, in which Boston fought down to the wire for a playoff spot, Kinder was one of two reliable pitchers Manager Joe McCarthy had (the other was Mel Parnell).  Down the stretch, Parnell and Kinder started or relieved in almost every game.  That simply does not happen anymore.  When the dust settled, Kinder ended up with a 23-6 record and a 3.36 ERA in 252 innings.  He pitched in 43 games, starting 30.  He lead the league in winning percentage and shutouts and finished fifth in the MVP vote.

In 1950, Kinder began transitioning into the bullpen full-time.  He still started 23 games, but came on in relief in another 25.  His numbers dipped a little as he was just 14-12 with a 4.56 ERA.  But in 1951, he became a bullpen ace.  He was 11-2 with a 2.55 ERA.  He started just two games, coming on in relief in another 61.  He lead the league in appearances, games finished and saves with 14.  His strikeout-to-walk percentage also improved significantly.  Kinder was injured in 1952, pitching in significantly fewer games, but his ERA stayed about the same and he saved four games.  1953 though was another terrific season as Kinder was 10-6 with a 1.85 ERA in 69 games, all in relief.  He lead the league in appearances, games finished, and saves with 27 once again.

After the 1953 season, Kinder's ERA rose a little but he was still an effective bullpen ace.  He was traded after a good 1955 season in which he was 5-5 with a 2.84 ERA.  He pitched for the Cardinals and White Sox before hanging it up.

Kinder was ahead of his time.  There were not a lot of great bullpen pitchers in the 1950's.  Kinder was definitely one of the few. 

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