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The inevitable happened this week when long time Kansas City fan favorite Mike Sweeney was announced as the 26th member of the Royals hall of fame. This is an honor which was greatly deserved for a player who was one of the lone bright spots during some of the worst stretches of baseball the Royals fan base has ever had to endure. He wrote bible verses with his autograph and produced the second highest career slugging percentage of any Royal, behind only Danny Tartabull. He hit the second most home runs of any Royal behind none other than the KC immortal George Brett, and along the way still had the 4th highest Royals batting average of all time.
Mike Sweeney was truly one of the best hitters to ever step in the box for Kansas City. Even when looking at an all encompassing stat such as fWAR, Sweeney still came in 9th all time in Royals history, right behind John Mayberry and directly above an interesting name and face that we all remember…..David DeJesus who at 19 fWAR comes in at #10 (its best if you read that in a Casey Kasem voice).
I posed the question on twitter, "Does David DeJesus deserve to be in the Royals Hall of Fame" and got a pretty universal no. The case I make here isn't necessarily that i think he SHOULD be in…but that there is a much stronger argument than anyone, including myself, ever realized.
David DeJesus falls in 11th all time in Royals position player WAR, and if you look at those that are all ahead of him, there is a case that all should (or already are) in the Royals hall of fame. Alex Gordon is almost a sure lock at this point and the only thing that may keep Carlos Beltran out is indifference, but deserves at the very least a strong consideration based on his achievements.
Offensively, DeJesus was no juggernaut. He seemed to always just be kind of average, rounding out his Royals career with a .289/.360/.427 line. These are good numbers, but came mostly in a time when numbers around the game were inflated. I was actually surprised to see that they were so good over his career when it never seemed like he was a force during his time.
Even still, his offensive runs above average according to fangraphs put him 13th place on the all time Royals squad, right above the trio of Bo Jackson, Wally Joyner and Willie Wilson. He falls in just behind Darrell Porter, Billy Butler and Kevin Seitzer, though there is a pretty big drop off between #12, Darrell Porter (54.6 Off runs above average) and #13 DeJesus (38 Off runs above average).
Defensively, DeJesus comes in at #22 Royal all time with 23.3 runs above average defended according to fangraphs. His closest comparisons being Mike Macfarlane and John Wathan of note. He played much of that in center field as well.
(Just as a fun side note, Chris Getz comes in at #29 on this list with 8.6 runs above average, there is a large drop off after DeJesus on this list.)
DeJesus never once made an All-Star game, did not win a single gold glove and never hit more than 13 home runs in a season. He did hit with an OPS of .800+ 4 of his 7 seasons and hit a ton of doubles (187 as a Royal), hitting at least 23 a season between 2005 and 2010. Only one year did he have a batting average lower than .281, and that was when he still hit .260/.351/.372 in 2007, his worst year offensively.
So does David Dejesus deserve to be in the Royals hall of fame? Probably not. But when thinking about some of the best all time Royals, don't be afraid to include him in your list. He has earned that distinction by giving 7+ years of above average play with both his bat and glove in a Kansas City Royals uniform.
He was a lesser version of Alex Gordon before Alex came along in that by being proficient at everything, he becomes a very good overall baseball player. The stats support that, even if sometimes our memory doesn't. He may not deserve a bust, but he certainly deserves to have his case heard.
(He is not yet eligible, but when he is make some noise KC!)
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