- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 195 lb.
- School Middle Georgia Junior College
- High School Northside High School
- Debut April 9, 1986
- Final Game September 22, 1992
- Born August 20, 1963 in Vienna, GA USA
Kal Daniels was a tremendously talented athlete whose injury problems cut his major league career short to seven seasons. Even when his career was only half over, he had already had six knee operations. In his best seasons, he combined a high batting average, high on-base percentage, and good slugging percentage with lots of stolen bases.
Out of high school, Daniels was drafted by the New York Mets in the third round, 58th overall, of the January 1982 amateur draft. Continuing on to junior college, he signed as the seventh pick of the secondary phase of the 1982 amateur draft by the Cincinnati Reds and scout Cam Bonifay.
In his first professional season, he hit .367 for the Billings Mustangs and stole 27 bases in 67 games. He also slugged .517, mostly showing doubles power. After spending 1983 in Cedar Rapids where he hit .251/~.335/.365 and stole 31 in 40 tries, in 1984 he hit .313/~.419/.525 with 43 stolen bases in 54 tries and helped the Vermont Reds win an AA Eastern League Championship along with Paul O'Neill and Chris Sabo. Daniels was named to the EL All-Star team as an outfielder and finished 5th in the league in average, tied for third in homers and third in steals.
In 1985 with the Denver Bears in 72 games, he hit .302/~.385/.565. He led the American Association in slugging percentage and was rated the #1 prospect in the AA by Baseball America, edging out outfield mates Eric Davis (#2) and O'Neill (38); O'Neill joined him on the All-Star team. Daniels was also rated as a better prospect than Andres Galarraga and David Cone. Injuries limited his time.
The next year in Denver, Kal hit .371/~.501/.674 in 42 games.
Major league play
He came up for part of 1986, debuting in good style with a .320 average, .398 OBP and a .519 slugging percentage in 74 games. The next year, 1987 was even better, with a .334/.429/.617 line, and 26 stolen bases in 108 games. He did not have enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting championship, but if he had, his slugging percentage would have ranked # 1 and his batting average would have ranked # 3.
With the Reds in 1988, when he finally had enough at-bats to qualify for the batting championship, his .291 was 10th in the league, and his .397 on-base percentage led the league. He also stole 27 bases in 33 attempts. He was suspended in September for throwing a bat into a dugout.
In 1989, Kal Daniels wanted a $325,000 salary. Owner Marge Schott was offering $300,000. They settled the debate by flipping a coin. Daniels won and made an extra $25,000 for the year; his salary increased each year between 1986 and 1992, going from $60,000 in 1986 to $2.5 million in 1992. Injuries limited him to 55 games in 1989, and he was traded in the middle of the year to the Los Angeles Dodgers, with Lenny Harrisin return for Mariano Duncan and Tim Leary.
After the 1989 season, his stolen base totals dropped off - this was because he had to undergo a knee surgery (the sixth of his career), that evidently "stole" his ability to steal bases. In 1990, he again played well, finishing seventh in the league in both on-base percentage and in slugging percentage, with a batting average of .296. His OPS was third in the league. He hit 3 of his 5 career grand slams that season. Daniels finished 27th in MVP voting that year, the only time he received any votes. In 1991 and 1992 he dropped off sharply, and was traded to the Chicago Cubs in mid-season 1992 to end out his career. It was in his stint with the Cubs that he played a position other than left field, getting 8 games at first base and committing one error.
His career stopped right before expansion in 1993. Had he been able to keep playing, expansion might have helped his stats, since the National League batting average jumped 12 points between 1992 and 1993.
During his lifetime, in major league play, he combined a decent .285 batting average with a high .385 on-base percentage and a strong .479 slugging percentage. He stole 87 bases, mostly in his first three seasons, and got caught only 26 times.
Superficially, he is most like Bob Cerv statistically, which is to say that the similarity scores method shows his career stats as being most like Cerv's. However, similarity scores did not take into account some factors. For example, Daniels accomplished in seven seasons what it took Cerv twelve to accomplish.
A much more meaningful comparison is to Monte Irvin, the great Negro Leaguer and major leaguer who is in the Hall of Fame. Monte's eight seasons in the major leagues are the third most-similar comparison to Daniels using the similarity scores method, and Irvin's on-base percentage is much closer to Daniels than is Cerv's.
His principal teammates were Eric Davis, Paul O'Neill and Rob Murphy; he played 6 years with all three of them. He wore the number 28 throughout his entire career. After his retirement, Daniels worked occasionally at the Mark Johnson Baseball Academy in Warner Robins, Georgia, owned by catcher Mark Johnson.
- NL On-Base Percentage Leader (1988)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 2 (1987 & 1990)