Kansas City Royals
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All-Time Team – Kansas City Royals
First Base – Mike Sweeney
I could have opted for John Mayberry here instead, but Mike Sweeney had more good years for the Royals. Sweeney spent 13 years in a Kansas City uniform, serving as a regular member of the team’s starting lineup in seven of those seasons. Sweeney batted over .300 five times for the Royals, posting a mark in excess of .320 on three separate occasions. He also hit more than 20 home runs six times, and he knocked in more than 100 runs, scored more than 100 times, and accumulated more than 40 doubles two times each. Sweeney had his best year in 2000, when he hit 29 homers, drove in 144 runs, scored 105 others, collected 206 hits, and batted .333. Two years later, he batted a career-high .340. He appeared in five All-Star Games as a member of the team.
Second Base – Frank White
Frank White spent his entire 18-year major league career with the Royals, accumulating just over 2,000 hits for the team. He also hit 160 home runs for Kansas City, easily the most of any second baseman in franchise history. Yet, White made five American League All-Star Teams primarily on the strength of his outstanding defense, which earned him a total of eight Gold Gloves.
Third Base – George Brett
Was there ever any doubt? George Brett was not only the greatest third baseman in Kansas City history – he was arguably the American League’s greatest player at the position ever. The only man ever to win a batting title in three different decades, Brett topped the junior circuit in hitting for the second time in the magical season of 1980, when he flirted with the .400-mark for much of the year. He finished the campaign with an average of .390, along with 24 home runs, 118 runs batted in, and a league-leading .454 on-base percentage and .664 slugging percentage, earning A.L. MVP honors in the process. One year earlier, Brett became one of a handful of players to surpass 20 home runs, 20 triples, and 20 doubles in the same season. He had another sensational year in 1985, when he hit 30 homers, knocked in 112 runs, scored 108 others, batted .335, compiled a .436 on-base percentage, and led the league with a .585 slugging percentage.
Shortstop – Fred Patek
Jay Bell had the greatest single season of any Kansas City shortstop (21 HRs, 92 RBIs, .291 AVG in 1997). But that was Bell’s only year with the Royals. Meanwhile, Fred Patek spent nine seasons in Kansas City, during which time he stole 336 bases, collected 1,036 hits, scored 571 runs, made three All-Star Teams, and earned one top-10 finish in the league MVP voting.
Left Field – Willie Wilson
David DeJesus presented another option. So, too, did Johnny Damon, who had five productive years for the Royals before he began a somewhat nomadic existence after he left the team at the conclusion of the 2000 campaign. In the end, though, Willie Wilson seemed to be the best choice for the starting left field job. The speedy switch-hitter spent 13 full seasons in Kansas City, batting over .300 five times, scoring more than 100 runs twice, and stealing more than 40 bases on seven separate occasions. Wilson won a batting title, made two All-Star Teams, and earned two top-10 finishes in the league MVP voting. He had his best year in 1980, helping the Royals capture the American League pennant by batting .326, stealing 79 bases, and leading the league with 230 hits, 133 runs scored, and 15 triples – one of five times he topped the circuit in three-baggers.
Center Field – Amos Otis
Carlos Beltran may have been a slightly better player than Amos Otis during his time in Kansas City, but Beltran spent only five full seasons with the Royals. Meanwhile, Otis remained a regular member of Kansas City’s starting lineup for 14 years, hitting a total of 193 home runs for the club, while also driving in 992 runs, scoring 1,074 others, collecting 1,977 hits, stealing 340 bases, and batting .280. Otis earned five All-Star selections, three Gold Gloves, and four top-10 finishes in the league MVP voting as a member of the team. He hit more than 20 homers twice, knocked in more than 90 runs three times, scored more than 100 runs once, stole more than 30 bases five times, and batted over .300 twice. Otis had his two best years in 1973 and 1978, hitting 26 homers, knocking in 93 runs, and batting .300 in the first of those campaigns, en route to earning a third-place finish in the league MVP voting. He hit 22 home runs, drove in 96 runs, and batted .298 in 1978, earning in the process a fourth-place finish in the balloting.
Right Field – Danny Tartabull
Although Al Cowens was a more complete player than Danny Tartabull, he had only one big offensive year for the Royals, finishing second in the A.L. MVP voting in 1977, when he hit 23 home runs, knocked in 112 runs, scored 98 others, and batted .312. Meanwhile, Tartabull, who also spent some time at the DH spot during his five-year stint in Kansas City, posted huge offensive numbers in three of his five seasons with the club. After hitting 34 homers, driving in 101 runs, scoring 95 others, and batting .309 in 1987, Tartabull hit 26 home runs and knocked in 102 runs the following year. He ended his five-year run with the team in 1991 by hitting 31 homers, driving in 100 runs, batting .316, and posting a league-leading .593 slugging percentage, to earn All-Star honors for the only time in his career.
Catcher - Darrell Porter
Although Darrell Porter spent only four years in Kansas City, he did enough during that time to edge out John Wathan for the starting catcher’s job. Porter hit a total of 61 home runs for the Royals, having his finest major-league season for the team in 1979, when he hit 20 home runs, knocked in 112 runs, scored 101 runs, batted .291, and walked a league-leading 121 times, en route to earning a ninth-place finish in the league MVP voting. Porter appeared in three All-Star Games as a member of the Royals.
Designated Hitter - Hal McRae
One of the best designated hitters in A.L. history, Hal McRae did an exceptional job for the Royals in that role for more than a decade. Although he also spent a considerable amount of time in the outfield his first few years with the team, he gradually settled in to the DH spot, providing the Royals with an outstanding right-handed bat in the middle of their batting order. After finishing a close second to teammate George Brett in the 1976 batting race with a mark of .332, McRae hit 21 homers, knocked in 92 runs, scored 104 others, batted .298, and led the league with 54 doubles the following year. He had his best year, though, in 1982, when he batted .308, hit 27 home runs, scored 91 runs, and topped the junior circuit with 133 runs batted in and 46 doubles. McRae earned three All-Star selections and two fourth-place finishes in the A.L. MVP voting during his time in Kansas City.
Starting Pitcher – Bret Saberhagen
The owner of the greatest single-season performance of any Royals starting pitcher, Bret Saberhagen won two Cy Young Awards in his eight years with the team. The right-hander captured the honor for the first time in Kansas City’s championship campaign of 1985, when he finished 20-6 with a 2.87 ERA. Saberhagen won the Award again in 1989, when he led all A.L. starters with a record of 23-6, a 2.16 ERA, 12 complete games, and 262 innings pitched. He compiled an overall record of 110-78 over the course of his eight seasons in Kansas City, along with an ERA of 3.21. He appeared in three All-Star Games and placed in the top 10 in the league MVP voting in each of his Cy Young seasons.
Starting Pitcher – Dennis Leonard
Spending his entire 12-year career in Kansas City, Dennis Leonard won a total of 144 games for the Royals – the second most in the history of the franchise. The right-hander surpassed 20 victories on three separate occasions, having his finest season in 1977, when he finished 20-12, with a 3.04 ERA, 244 strikeouts, and 21 complete games. Leonard won at least 13 games for the Royals seven straight times, posting a career-mark of
Starting Pitcher – Paul Splittorff
The only Royals hurler with more career victories than Leonard is Paul Splittorff, who pitched for the team from 1970 to 1984. Spending 13 of his 15 years in Kansas City as a full-time starter, Splittorff compiled an overall record of 166-143, along with an ERA of 3.81. The left-hander won at least 12 games eight times, posting 20 victories once and surpassing 15 victories another three times.
Starting Pitcher – Kevin Appier
Pitching for the Royals from 1989 to 1999, before finishing out his career with them in 2003 and 2004, Kevin Appier compiled an overall record with the team of 115-92, along with a very respectable 3.49 ERA. He won at least 12 games in six of seven seasons at one point, surpassing 15 victories on three separate occasions. Appier had his two best years in 1992 and 1993, posting a combined record of 33-16, while also compiling ERAs of 2.46 and a league-leading 2.56, respectively.
Starting Pitcher – Larry Gura
Although both Zack Greinke and Mark Gubicza won Cy Young Awards for the Royals, Larry Gura claimed the final spot in the starting rotation due to the greater number of quality seasons he posted during his time with the club. After being cast aside by both the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees, Gura found a home in Kansas City, spending the 1976 to 1984 campaigns making significant contributions to the Royals. Gura became a regular member of Kansas City’s starting rotation in 1978, posting a record of 16-4 and an ERA of 2.72 in his first year as a full-time starter. The lefthander finished with double-digit victories in each of the next six seasons as well, winning 18 games on two separate occasions. Gura finished 18-10, with a 2.95 ERA and 16 complete games for Kansas City’s 1980 pennant-winning club. He left the Royals early in 1985 having compiled an overall record of 111-78 with them.
Closer – Dan Quisenberry
The Royals’ closer in both of their pennant-winning campaigns, Dan Quisenberry saved a total of 238 games for the team in just over eight full seasons. The right-hander posted 12 victories and a league-leading 33 saves for Kansas City’s 1980 A.L. championship squad, before going on to lead the league in saves in four of the next five seasons as well. Quisenberry also won eight games and saved 37 others for the 1985 world champions. He saved more than 40 games and compiled an ERA below 2.00 two times each. Jeff Montgomery will ably assist Quisenberry in the Kansas City bullpen.
Manager – Dick Howser
Whitey Herzog posted a higher winning percentage during his five years in Kansas City (.574 to .525), and he led the Royals to three straight A.L. West titles and two second-place finishes. But Dick Howser piloted the Royals to their only world championship. After leading Kansas City to 90 victories in 1982, Howser took a team far less talented than the one Herzog managed during the 1970s to the world championship in 1985. The Royals finished the regular season 91-71, before displaying the grit and determination of their manager by overcoming three-games-to-one deficits in both the ALCS and World Series, en route to winning the only World Series in franchise history.
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