Over the past week I’ve been nursing my post-football/pre-baseball sickness that seems to creep in every year at this time. The only cure is to scour the internet for spring baseball statistics, check up on the top prospects and remind yourself of everything forgotten about the last baseball season.
Then it happened. I went to the Kansas City Royals web site. It was right there. . .mocking me.
“The Top 50 Greatest All-Time Kansas City Royals from 50 Years of Royals Baseball.”
I did what I shouldn’t have. . .I clicked the link and No. 50 came up. . .Jarrod Dyson.
Yes, that Jarrod Dyson.
After my computer finished crashing and I stopped swearing at it and the list, I made a decision. I’m coming up with my own “Top 50 Greatest Royals from the First 50 Years.” After all, if you start the list with Jarrod Dyson it’s going to be a flawed list. That’s nothing against Dyson and his time in blue but to even mention him as one of the top Royals of all-time means that you literally started watching Royals baseball in 2014 and stopped halfway through 2016 when they weren’t doing so well.
I completely understand that no “all-time team” will ever be written without criticism. I’m sure this one will be torn apart.
I also understand that the Royals web site list was voted on by the fans which confirms my fear of the bandwagoners leading the voice of the Royals fans now and not the ones who actually watched and paid attention when they were losing 100 plus games a year with Runelvys Hernandez trotting out to the mound as the next big thing. (Note: He didn’t make the list.)
If your a KC fan and your favorite Royal isn’t in my top 50 there is no need to email me. Just copy and paste this respond and it’s all good, “Ahh, Sorry! Yeah he was just outside of my Top 50!”
Steve Balboni? “Ahh, Sorry! Yeah he was just outside of my Top 50!”
Jamie Quirk? “Ahh, Sorry! Yeah he was just outside of my Top 50!”
You get the idea. I also didn’t list any of the positions these guys played because if you don’t know where Freddie Patek played in the field then you shouldn’t be voting on an all-time list.
This list isn’t scientific. It’s a mixture of actual stats, Royals who won awards, their contributions during key seasons, and my own opinions. So here you go. . .the official “Jason Dannelly Top 50 Royals from 50 Years of Kansas City Baseball Because It’s February and He Needs Something to Write About” list!”
TIE 50. Bob Hamelin – 1994 AL Rookie of the Year. Yeah. . .you forgot that didn’t you. He makes the list because he won the award. Don’t look up the rest of his career.
TIE 50. Angel Berroa – 2003 Rookie of the Year. That was one of the few things that went well for the Royals in that decade as ’03 was sandwiched between 100 loss seasons.
49. Joakim Soria – His second stint with KC sours his first stint when he was lights out as a closer and was one of the few exciting things to watch in the late innings during some of KC’s darker years. Someone tell my brother-in-law to stop yelling at my list because I put Soria on the list.
48. Mike Macfarlane – In 1992 and 1994 Mac led the American league being hit by pitch more than anyone. His 717 hits are second most for any Royals catcher only behind Perez.
47. Jose Offerman – He only spent three seasons with the Royals but managed to bat over.300 in his career for KC.
46. Cookie Rojas – Four-time All-Star for the Royals from 71-74 and ranks 16th all-time in hits.
45. Al Cowens – Won a gold glove in 1977 while batting .312 in the best season of his career. For those of you non KC fans reading this. . .no this is not OJ’s friend Al Cowlings. Different people thankfully.
44. Dick Drago – In five seasons with KC he was the opening day starter twice and won 61 games. He never threw fewer than 200 innings in a season with KC. Might have one of the Top 5 all-time names in Royals history.
43. Al Fitzmorris – Tied for ninth in wins all-time. Crazy stat, in 1098 innings he only hit 9 batters.
42. Alcides Escobar – It’s either him or Fred Patek as the best ever for the Royals at SS.
41. John Wathan – Here’s why I like Wathan. . .he spent his entire career with the Royals. Was a backup catcher, then the starter, then the backup and won a World Series with them in ’85. His best season was probably 1980 when he batted .305.
40. Jermaine Dye – To be honest, he was a pretty good Royal but his success after leaving KC makes his trade for Neifi Perez sting even worse. Who? Exactly.
39. Mike Moustakus – Single season home run leader. Statistically speaking he might not be the best but was a major reason the Royals won in 2015.
38. David DeJesus – Good career in centerfield in an era where the Royals weren’t very good. He was a .289 career hitter, which ties him with Willie Wilson.
37. Greg Holland – Without him, the Royals don’t make their run to the postseason in 2014 and 2015. He closed out a lot of games to help win the regular season breaking the single season saves record in 2014 with 47.
36. John Mayberry Sr. – His 34 HRs ties him the 4th highest single season total and was also a two-time All-Star.
35. Johnny Damon – In 2000 he had one of the best seasons for a Royals hitter ever with a .327 average and 214 hits.
34. Lou Piniella – Rookie of the Year in the Royals first year of existence and help to build the Royals into a solid team in the 70’s.
33. Lorenzo Cain – You can’t not put Cain on this list. Wilson is still better but Cain was electric.
32. Joe Randa – 11th all-time in hits, 9th in doubles. Randa had a career .288 batting average with KC and has definitely forgotten giving the lack of success of the teams he played on.
31. Darrell Porter – Royals starting catcher for four seasons including the ’80 AL Championship team. Ranks #1 all-time on the “players with thick glasses” list.
30. Larry Gura – Fifth all-time in wins and was a 1980 All-Star.
29. Wade Davis – Probably the most dominating closer for the Royals over a short period of time when it mattered. In the 2015 postseason he never gave up a run and struck out 18 batters in 10.2 innings. Let’s not mention his time as a starting pitcher. . .ever.
28. Bo Jackson – I mean. . . He has to be on this list. I don’t need to explain this any further.
27. Bud Black – Part of the ’85 championship and an opening day starter for three straight years. In 1984 he threw eight complete games.
26. Tom Gordon – FLASH finished 7th all-time in KC’s win category. He is another guy you hated to see get away from KC. In 1988 he was the minor league player of the year for KC while playing in Omaha.
25. David Cone – If the Royals hadn’t been in the business of selling off talent he would have been one of the Top 5 starting pitchers ever for KC.
24. Danny Tartabull – The Bull batted .290 with KC and hit 34 HRs during the ’87 season. He was an All-Star in 1991 and led the AL in slugging percentage.
23. Billy Butler – Just stop. . .I know you are bitching about this selection but Butler ranks in the top 10 of nearly every Royals offensive category.
22. Kevin Seitzer – Batted .323 during his All-Star season in 1987. He also led the AL in hits the same season and was an all-time great in the original “R.B.I Baseball” on Nintendo.
21. Salvador Perez – No chance the Royals have their recent run with a different everyday catcher. He can only move up on this list.
20. Eric Hosmer – Turned into a great first baseman for the Royals and was a clutch hitter during the World Championship. Four Gold Gloves and counting.
19. Freddie Patek – Three-time All-Star playing nine seasons for the Royals. For 8 consecutive years, Patek posted 30 or more stolen bases and he led the American league in double plays turned 4 straight years.
18. Zac Greinke – Not great career stats but the dude won the Cy Young Award and one of the biggest talents KC ever had.
17. Charlie Leibrandt – Was 17-9 in 1985 as part of the Royals Championship team. Ranks 8th all-time in wins and his 2.69 ERA in ’85 was second best in the league.
16. Alex Gordon – Despite his ups and downs Gordon is one of those players that just has you wanting that MVP season out of him. Likely will retire the most decorated outfielder in Royals history. He has five Gold Gloves, was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2014 and 2017 and has been a three-time All-Star.
15. Steve Busby – Ninth all-time in wins and his 22 wins in 1974 are second best all-time for KC. He pitched his entire career for KC and was a two-time all-star.
14. Carlos Beltran – 1999 Rookie of the Year. Had a great career before being dealt for Mark Teahen, John Buck and Mike Wood. I might need to start drinking now.
13. Mike Sweeney – His .340 batting average in 2002 is second only to Brett’s .390. He also made five All-Star game appearances.
12. Jeff Montgomery – The best long term relief pitcher for the Royals during their up and down years.
11. Hal McRae – Best all-time DH for KC. His 54 doubles from ’77 are still a team record. Now put that in your pipe and smoke it.
10. Kevin Appier – KC’s all-time strikeout leader and 1995 All-Star game selection. Named opening day starter six times which is the most for any Royal. Fourth on the all-time wins list with 115.
9. Willie Wilson – Has the most hits ever in a season for the Royals and a team stolen base record that will never be touched. 13 of his career 41 homeruns were inside the park.
8. Mark Gubicza – Third all-time in wins, second in strikeouts, games started and innings pitched. First all-time in Royals mullets.
7. Dan Quisenberry – The most decorated reliever ever for the Royals. Won the AL Relief Award five times.
6. Dennis Leonard – Three 20 plus win seasons, second all-time in wins and won the 1986 Hutch Award. . .I’m going to pretend I know what that is without having to Google it. In 1977, Leonard threw 21 complete games while starting 37. That’s a decent average.
5. Amos Otis – Three-time Gold Glove winner who spent 13 seasons with the Royals ranking 3rd all-time in hits.
4. Paul Splittorf – All-time wins leader with 166 and had a 3.81 ERA. He never threw a pitch for anyone but KC.
3. Bret Saberhagen – Two-Time Cy Young Winner, World Series MVP and was the last Royal to throw a no-hitter.
2. Frank White – Five All-Star game appearances, eight gold gloves, ’86 Silver Slugger Award. Not much more to say.
1. George Brett – This is no surprise and I don’t even need to defend this pick. I don’t need to list any stats either. If you don’t think he’s the greatest Royal ever then you are just trying to be trendy or controversial for no reason.