The all time best players on the Kansas City Royals

12 Apr

In 1969 Ewing Kaufman entered the world of professional baseball on the grand scale as owner of the expansion team the Kansas City Royals filling a void left by the Athletic’s departure for Oakland. Like most expansion teams they began with a smattering of pro level talent in the old Municipal Stadium before moving to Royals Stadium in 1973. During the Royals history many fine players have come through the organization, some for their full career and others briefly, this is an examination of the best players in Royals history.

 The first name that comes to mind when discussing the Royals is number five, Hall of Fa,er George Brett. Brett spent his entire career in Royal blue primarily as a third baseman although his last couple of seasons saw a move to first base. In a career that spanned twenty one seasons Brett set the baseball world on fire, winning one MVP award and finishing in the top three four more times. A lifetime .305 hitter, Brett collected 3,154 hits with 307 round trippers and 1,595 RBI’s. Brett made thirteen trips to the All Star game, added in a Golden Glove and four Silver Slugger Awards to go with his world series ring. Something that shows his true consistencey was his winning a battle title in three different decades, including 1980 when he hit an amazing .390 that called attention to his prowess around the globe. George Brett truly is the All-Time face of the franchise.

Hal McRae may have spent his first four season in Cincinnati but once he landed in Kansas City he found a home for the next fifteen. Hal was primarily a designated hitter (DH) and outfielder for the Royals during his tenure. While McRae will never find his way to Cooperstown, he did gain entrance to the Royals Hall of Fame by compiling career numbers which boasted 2,091 hits, 191 homers, and 1,097 RBI’s to compliment his .290 average. McRae was a two time All Star and snagged a pair of number four finishes in MVP balloting alomg with a 1982 Silver Slugger Award. The role McRae played in elevating the organization and keeping them competitive can never be denied or underestimated.

Outfieldier Williw Wilson was the Royals first round pick im 1974 and made his debut with the big club in 1976. Wilson was known for his speed on the bases and his ability to cover seemingly emdless ground in center field. Over Wilsons nineteen year career, all with the Royals, he piled up 2,207 hits, 668 steals and a .285 career average to accompany his gold glove and pair of Silver Slugger awards. Wilson also garnered an 1982 batting crown as well as led the league in triples five times, and stolen bases once. Wilson was the spark plug of the Royal’s offense and the glue that held their outfield together during the franchises prime years.

Paul Splittorff spent his entire fifteen year career with the Royals compiling a winning percentage of .536 and posting 166 victories to make him the Royals All-Time wins leader. Paul posted twenty wins for the Royals in 1973, and nineteen in 1978 for his two highest single season totals. Splittorff was a crafty lefty who managed only 1,057 strikeouts but an impressive 3.81 ERA shows he knew how to keep his team in the game and provide a chance to win every time he took his turn in the rotation. While these are far from the type of numbers needed for Cooperstown, they earned him entrance to the Royals Hall of Fame and a place in the hearts of Kansas City fans.

 For a period of time there was no more dominant closer than Dan Quisenberry. While the “Quis” only had a twelve year career, from 1980-1985 he was the man to finish off foes for the men in blue. Quis racked up thirty or more saves five times, twice passing foty. Over the span of his career he picked up fifty six wins to go along with 244 saves and a 2.76 career ERA. While with the Royals Quisenberry amassed five top ten finishes in MVP balloting and anothe five top five finishes in the Cy Young race, twice as runner up. Quis won five Fireman of the year awards and led the league in saves five times as well. Dan Quisenberry to this day may be the best clser in Royals history.

No mention of Royals greats would be complete without the man who took the field at second base for eighteen years, eight time gold glove winner Frank White. White collected 2,006 hits, 178 career thefts, and a .255 career average. While these numbers may not stand out against today’s players, White was integral to the Royals success. He anchored an infield with his amazing fielding and leadership. White may have never enjoyed the accolades showered upon many of his teammates but it in no way made him less valuable to the franchise.

Since the Royals played their first game countless stars have crossed through the organization including Brett Saberhagen, Lou Pinella, Amos Otis, Carlos Beltran, Johnny Damon, Tom Gordon, Dennis Leonard, and Mike Sweeney. Some only stayed a few years, some several. Most found their fame and best years in other organizations, and some only compiled a couple good years in royal blue which is all that keeps them from my list of Royals greats. Of course like anything in baseball it’s always open to debate, but the six players outlined are all truly Royals greats.

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