By Jesus Perez Vichot (Chuchi)
In most cases we refer to the best home runs in history taking into account the total number of home runs he hit during his career. However, not always the one who totaled the highest figure should be considered “the best” home run hitter.
The average is a fundamental element when determining the best in any category and in the specific case of feature film hitters, in my opinion it is essential. I am of the opinion that when choosing the best sluggers you have to keep in mind the time in which each one played, the difference that he made with respect to the rest of his contemporaries, the ball and bats that were used, the stadiums and other characteristics important that should not be underestimated.
In the National Baseball Series in Cuba, the batter who hit the most home runs in his career is Orestes Kindelán, from Santiago and eternal fourth batter of the national teams. “El tambor mayor” shot 487 homers, but his frequency of Home Runs (HR) per Times at Bat (VB) is not the best. Kindelán gave 1 HR for every 13.3 VB. It is true that reaching such a high number of home runs is synonymous with consistency, durability and power at the bat, but if you do not have the best frequency, you should not be considered “the best”.
Thanks to the compilation and contribution of my good friend Arnelio Álvarez de la Uz, I bring you an updated list of the players with the best home run frequency in the history of the National Baseball Series (HR by VB):
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PLAYERS WITH FREQUENCY OF 1 HR in less than 20 VB:
1- Romelio Martínez: 15 SNB, 370 HR (Frequency: 12.8).
2- Orestes Kindelán: 21 SNB, 487 HR (Frequency: 13.3).
3- Alfredo Despaigne: 14 SNB, 257 HR (Frequency: 13.6).
4- Lázaro Junco: 18 SNB, 405 HR (Frequency: 14.3).
5- Pedro José Rodríguez: 15 SNB, 289 HR (Frequency: 14.5).
6- Omar Linares: 20 SNB, 404 HR (Frequency: 14.8).
7- Joan Carlos Pedroso: 16 SNB, 300 HR (Frequency: 15.1).
8- Luis Giraldo Casanova: 17 SNB, 313 HR (Frequency: 16.9).
9- Gabriel Pierre: 18 SNB, 306 HR (Frequency: 17.4).
10- Leonel Mía: 15 SNB, 272 HR (Frequency: 17.6).
11- Yulieski Gurriel: 15 SNB, 282 HR (Frequency: 17.9).
12- Yosvani Peraza: 18 SNB, 249 HR (Frequency: 17.6).
13- Antonio Muñoz: 24 SNB, 371 HR (Frequency: 18.1).
14- Daniel Lazo: 15 SNB, 223 HR (Frequency: 18.3).
15- Juan Carlos Millán: 12 SNB, 222 HR (Frequency: 18.3).
16- Frederich Cepeda: 23 SNB, 328 HR (Frequency: 19.5).
17- Alejo O’Reilly: Daniel Lazo: 16 SNB, 240 HR (Frequency: 19.5).
17- Oscar Machado: 19 SNB, 207 HR (Frequency: 19.6).
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ACTIVE PLAYERS WITH BEST HR FREQUENCY per VB (minimum 200 HR):
1- Alfredo Despaigne: 14 SNB, 257 HR (Frequency: 13.6).
2- Frederich Cepeda: 23 SNB, 328 HR (Frequency: 19.5).
3- Yoelvis Fiss: 21 SNB, 229 HR (Frequency: 24.7).
4- Danel Castro: 27 SNB, 229 HR (Frequency: 32.2).
It would not be fair to fail to mention other great SNB homers who, for having played during the so-called “dead ball” era, their home run totals and frequencies do not appear among the best in the history of these domestic championships, for example: the Rolando “Gallego” Valdés from Camagüey, who was the leader in the first two national series with three home runs in each. Jorge Trigoura also led the third series with three homers. But the most consistent and recognized for his huge hits in the first decade of these tournaments was Don Miguel Cuevas, who led the fair fourth with five homers. Lino Betancourt, Erwin Walters, Raúl Reyes, Armando Capiró, Felipe Sarduy and Agustín Marquetti were other of the most outstanding in the home run locker.
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That is why when a ranking or comparison is made to find the “best” (in this case, home run), we must analyze the players and their results by season. In the first 30 years of SNB my top 5 home runs would be:
1- Pedro José Rodríguez: The Cheíto thing was huge. In the XVI SNB, with a wooden bat, he was the leader in HR with nine. He then led HRs in the first three aluminum-bat series and twice led HRs in Selective Series. He hit 289 homers until his career was cut short by that famously unfair call. No other slugger of his era came close to his HR rate (1 per 14.5 VB).
2- Agustín Marquetti: He led the HR department three times in the wooden bat stage. Like Cheíto, he was able to hit with aluminum, connecting in his 22-season career a total of 207 HRs (1 for every 32.5 VB). When he hit 19 HRs in 1968-69, no one had previously hit 14 homers in a season.
3- Armando Capiró: In series XII he established a new home run record with 22. The home runs of tall capitalism were based on his wrists, he made them look easy. His 162 home runs and frequency (1 per 24.7 VB) look impressive, considering he played in an era where pitching ruled the roost in SNB.
4- Miguel Cuevas: The first great SNB slugger. He led HRs a couple of times and for several years was top of the line in this department. His 83 home runs perhaps do not say everything that he was, for coinciding in a stage where hitting a home run was great news. He also doesn’t impress with his HR rate (1 per 34 VB). But just like with Marquetti, at the time he played, he was an excellent average.
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5- Antonio Muñoz: When he connected 19 HR in the XIII edition of the SNB, he did it in approximately two dozen games less than when Marquetti achieved the same amount five years before. He led the home run department in SNB four times with a wooden bat and four other times he led this locker in Selective Series with an aluminum bat.
Picking a top 5 home run hitter from the past three decades is pretty tough. The aluminum and wooden bats were also used, with different structures or championship formats. The fact that players like Luis Giraldo Casanova or José Dariel Abreu himself are not in my top 5 does not mean that I did not take them into account, in fact they would be positions 6 and 7 respectively. But in my opinion, these are my top five:
1- Romelio Martínez: The home runs of the Bejucaleño are full of anecdotes. His huge hits broke the same tile of a house that damaged a blackboard in a stadium. Nobody has exceeded his HR frequency (1 per 12.8 VB). His 370 homers out of 1,289 hits connected in his career speak for himself of the great power and natural home run swing that he possessed. He led the Selective Series home run chart three times, so the pitching was more focused. When Romelio hit the ball with his bat, it cried.
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2- Orestes Kindelán: The maximum slugger in the history of the SNB cannot be missing. One of the most complete hitters, power and average, a combination of greats. He was only 13 HR short of the 500, it is still something inexplicable. Luxury frequency (1 HR for every 13.3 VB). He was one of the most fearsome hitters of his time, eternal fourth batter for the national teams. The drum major led the home run department in Selective Series four times.
3- Lázaro Junco: Another of the great sluggers of his generation. That pair that he made with Julio Germán was intimidating. Junco hit 405 homers (second historical place). He led the SNB in home runs nine times and the Selective Series once.
4- Alfredo Despaigne: His hiring in Japanese professional baseball has prevented the man from Granma from increasing his offensive numbers, including home runs. But he already has more than two hundred and the frequency (1 HR for every 13.6 VB) is one of the best in the history of the National Series. He is one of the most powerful men in SNB, his three wood bat home run crowns prove it.
5- Omar Linares: “The child” is not only considered the most complete player in the history of the SNB, but as a slugger and feature-length hitter he has also been one of the greatest. More than 400 home runs and 1 HR for less than 15 times at bat are proof of this. Linares led the home runs in 1 Selective Series, that of 1992. Coinciding with figures such as Kindelán, Romelio or Junco, prevented him from leading the SNB in home runs. But his consistency was impressive, every year he was at the top of the list.
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So if I am already at a crossroads with no way out, I have no choice but to expose who in my opinion has been the greatest home run hitter in our domestic championships. His name: Romelio Martinez. I have not seen anyone connect balls like those of the “fat man”. He didn’t hit 400 career home runs, he was the victim of that inexplicable mass retirement. You may or may not agree with my choice, but I am completely sure of something, if Statcast had existed in Cuba at the time Romelio played, the dimensions of the home runs of the fat man would be located at the top of these lists.
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LIST: True home run hitters of the Cuban ball