Sunday, November 24, 2019

All-Time Teams: Royals

In my rush to complete the L.A. teams by Thanksgiving, I almost forgot Kansas City. Here's the Royals' All-Time Team:

 Manager: Ned Yost
Home: Kauffman Stadium

Leading off for the Royals.. the Center Fielder.. Amos Otis

Amos Otis is second on the Royals' career list in WAR, total bases, and runs scored. A five-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner, Otis finished third in AL MVP voting in 1973. The speedy center fielder stole a league-leading 52 bases in 1971 and all but one of his 341 career swipes were with Kansas City. I thought that Willie Wilson would be starting here but Amos had a bit more pop and a better on-base %. His 193 home runs and 992 RBI are third in team history, and he has more career hits than Wilson and Frank White.

Batting second for Kansas City.. the Third Baseman.. George Brett

The only Royals player inducted into Cooperstown, George Brett is the franchise standard-bearer in nearly every statistical category. His 3,154 career hits are 18th all-time, and he's the only player in history to win a batting title in three different decades. Brett was a 13-time All-Star, a three time Silver Slugger winner, and was named the 1980 AL MVP after batting .390 and leading the Royals to their first World Series. Brett was ALCS MVP in 1985, a year in which he finished second in league MVP voting, won his only Gold Glove, and led the Royals to their first Championship.

Batting third.. the Right Fielder.. Danny Tartabull

A Royal for just five seasons, Danny Tartabull nonetheless leads the franchise in career OPS, OPS+, and slugging. His .376 on-base % is third in team history. Tartabull smashed 124 home runs for the Royals in just 657 games, more than any right fielder and all but two full-time outfielders in team history. In 1991, Danny led the majors in slugging with a .593 % and made his only appearance in the All-Star Game.

Batting fourth.. the First Baseman.. Mike Sweeney

Mike Sweeney represented the Royals in five All-Star games through their lean years of the early aughts. A steady high-average hitter, Sweeney batted .300 or better five times, including .340 in 2002. His .299 average as a Royal is third in team history, and only George Brett has more homers with the club. Originally a catcher, Mike moved to first base and eventually became a full-time DH - one of the few positions where the Royals have depth. Sweeney finally made the playoffs at the very end of his career, with the 2010 Phillies.

Batting fifth.. the Designated Hitter.. Hal McRae

Moving Mike Sweeney to first base is Hal McRae, one of the game's first great designated hitters. McRae made three All-Star teams, finished fourth in AL MVP voting twice, and won a Silver Slugger in 1982, after leading the league in doubles and RBI. McRae batted .300 or better in six full seasons, accumulating 2,091 career hits. Hal is second in team history with 449 career doubles and fifth among all Royals with 169 home runs. He also managed the club for four years. We'll make sure he sticks to swinging the bat on this All-Time team.

Batting sixth.. the Left Fielder.. Alex Gordon

The #2 overall pick in the 2005 draft, Alex Gordon has produced more career WAR than that year's #1 and #3 picks combined. His 36.6 total is fourth in Royals history and a good chunk of that has come from his stellar defense. The seven-time Gold Glove award winner and three-time All-Star was perhaps the best defensive left fielder of the decade. Gordon could also hit a little bit, smacking a league-leading 51 doubles in 2012. His 186 career home runs are the fourth-highest total in Kansas City history.

Batting seventh.. the Catcher.. Salvador Perez

Salvador Perez has caught more games than anyone in franchise history - and he's still just 29 years old. The 2015 World Series MVP caught all 31 of the Royals' playoff games in 2014 and 2015, and is one of the few remaining players from that title-winning team on the current Royals roster. In just eight seasons, Perez has made six all-Star teams, won five Gold Gloves, two Silver Sluggers, and hit 20+ home runs in each of his last four seasons. The only reason "Salvy" bats behind Gordon here is because Gordon gets on base at a higher rate.

Batting eighth.. the Second Baseman.. Frank White

This Royals' All-Time team is strong on defense - which would be beneficial considering they wouldn't score many runs. Frank White won eight Gold Gloves in his eighteen years with Kansas City. The five-time All-Star was named ALCS MVP in 1980, collecting six hits in eleven at-bats against the Yankees. White won his only Silver Slugger at age 35, tying a career high with 22 home runs in 1986. His games played and hits totals are second in Royals history.

Batting ninth.. the Shortstop.. Freddie Patek

Freddie Patek was a three-time All-Star for the Royals in the 1970s. He finished sixth in AL MVP voting in 1971, when he led the majors with 11 triples. The speedy shortstop stole 30 or more bases eight consecutive seasons from 1971-78, and his 336 swipes as a Royal are third in team history. Patek's career on-base percentage was higher than Frank White and Salvador Perez, however "The Flea" was small in stature and had zero power. Patek would have been a perfect fit for the Golden Age of baseball. Here, he's a slightly better option than U.L. Washington.

The Starting Pitcher for the Royals.. Bret Saberhagen

Bret Saberhagen was one of the top starters in the American League when healthy (and in odd-number years.) A two-time Cy Young award winner and three-time All-Star, "Sabes" was the MVP of the 1985 World Series, allowing just one run in two complete game victories against the Cardinals. He has the lowest WHIP in franchise history, the lowest ERA among Kansas City starters, and the second-highest WAR. Bret's career total of 58.8 is higher than Hall of Famer Whitey Ford.

Now let's take a look at the Royals' bench and bullpen:

Catcher: Darrell Porter
1st Base: John Mayberry
Infield: Kevin Seitzer
Outfield: Willie Wilson
Designated Hitter: Billy Butler

Porter was a four time All-Star who played a near-equal amount of games for three different teams. Mayberry finished second in AL MVP voting in 1975. Seitzer had a .380 OBP across six seasons in Kansas City. Wilson has more stolen bases than any Royal, and his 688 career steals are 12th all-time. This is the first All-Time team without a fifth outfielder; Butler was a better option than David DeJesus, and I had to get "Country Breakfast" in here somehow.

#2 Starter: Kevin Appier
#3 Starter: Dennis Leonard
#4 Starter: Paul Splittorff
#5 Starter: Mark Gubicza

Appier leads all Royals pitchers in WAR and strikeouts, and his 130 ERA+ is highest among K.C. starters. Leonard was an innings eater, tossing more complete games and shutouts than any hurler in team history. Splittorff leads the franchise in starts, wins, and innings pitched. Gubicza is in the team's top three in WAR, wins, strikeouts, innings pitched, and shutouts. He's also the franchise leader in walks allowed, and his WHIP was higher than Splittorff's.

RH Reliever: Steve Farr
RH Reliever: Kelvin Herrera
RH Reliever: Joakim Soria

RH Reliever:
Jeff Montgomery
RH Reliever: Greg Holland
RH Reliever: Dan Quisenberry

Farr edged out Doug Bird based on a lower ERA and a higher K/9 ratio. Soria had a sub-2 ERA and 40+ saves in 2008 and 2010.  Montgomery earned 304 saves, most in Royals history. Holland's 47-save season in 2013 included a 1.21 ERA and a 342 ERA+. Quisenberry led the AL in saves and finished top-3 in Cy Young voting four straight seasons.

I'm going to hit 'pause' on the All-Time Teams series until after the holidays. I've got plenty of other sports card-related topics to discuss, including recent purchases before and after Black Friday. I've also got a 12 Days of Christmas series in the works, which will dive into Starting Lineup and McFarlane sports figures, as well as some of my all-time favorite Christmas gifts. 

Thanks for reading these All-Time Teams posts!



  1. Love to see Amos Otis and Freddie Patek getting some love. They had some special teams in the 1970s.

    1. They sure did. Too bad they kept running into the Yankees (though they finally beat them in '80)

  2. Good list. I would have to include Greinke on the starting pitchers list for his monster Cy Young season alone. Every start by him that year was appointment television.

    1. Greinke was on the D-Backs team. Chris did note that there was a good case for putting him here instead.

      If Ted Abernathy had pitched there a bit longer, he'd probably have a bullpen spot. He had a 2.31 ERA in 144 appearances for the team, including an amazing 1.70 in his final season at the age of 39.

    2. Yeah it was a tough call leaving Greinke off this roster. He had some great years and some not so great years in KC, but I assigned him to Arizona(instead of Curt Schilling, which was another tough call)

  3. One of the most impressive things about this series is the research and work you've put into it. My first thought after reading this was "How did David Cone not make the team? He won a Cy Young with them!" Then I hoped on Baseball Reference and was reminded he was only in KC for a few seasons. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks Matt! There's a good chance you'll see Cone in New York. 

  4. Willie Wilson might be one of the best bench players in this series so far. It's also nice to see some modern guys make the starting roster. Nice work!

    1. My father in law saw Wilson play in High School here in NJ. He said WW was the best player he'd ever seen.

  5. A post, or posts, about favorite Christmas presents sounds like it'll be fun, I will now be looking forward to that :)

    1. I've got at least three in mind, might end up with as many as six in that subset. Hope you enjoy them!

  6. I've been enjoying this series so far.. I'll admit, I have an idea of what the Jays lineup might look like. .

  7. Wow. Amos Otis being 2nd on the Royals career WAR list is kind of a shocker. Then again... there's a lot less superstars than I imagined. Lot's of Hall of Very Good players though. Like Henry, it was nice to see Otis on this list... along with Willie Wilson, Bret Saberhagen, and Dan Quisenberry.