The Royals all-time 25-man roster

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Royals all-time 25-man teamA year ago, when this was posted, the Royals were under .500 at 48-49, thanks to a 9-17 record since the 10-game winning streak put them at 39-32 and in first place – 1.5 games ahead of Detroit. At seven games out of first-place Detroit and in third place, we thought an all-time Royals roster would cheer fans/readers up.

Now, the Royals (69-46) have it on cruise control as they have all but locked the AL Central in what will be their first division title in 30 years. Leading the division by 12 games and winning at a .600-clip, the Royals are on pace for 97 wins and homefield in the playoffs.

To qualify, a player had to play a minimum of four seasons in Kansas City (for example, Wade Davis is ineligible).

Enjoy.

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C Darrell Porter (1977-80)

Porter played just four seasons in Kansas City, but was an All-Star three times (1978-1980), finished in the Top 10 in the AL MVP voting twice (1978-79) and was the every day catcher for three division champs. He ranked second in the AL in on-base percentage in 1979 (.421), reaching base a league best 284 times with 121 walks, also a league high. Posted an incredible 4.75 WAR as a Royal.

1B John Mayberry (1972-77)

Mayberry, a Royals Hall of Famer, was a true slugger and made an impact right away in Kansas City, winning 1972 Royals Player of the Year. In his six seasons in a Royals uniform, Mayberry averaged 24 home runs and 94 RBI, and a two-time All-Star. In 1975, he became the first Royals player to post a 30-plus home run season (34), and twice he led the league in walks. He posted the Royals first three 100-plus RBI seasons, and ranks among the Royals all-time leaders in home runs (143) and RBI (552).

2B Frank White (1973-90)

White, although still not a MLB Hall-of-Famer (HE SHOULD BE), became one of the greatest second basemen in baseball history. The Royals Hall of Famer, two-time Royals Player of the Year and a five-time All-Star, he was the first American League second baseman to ever collect EIGHT Gold Gloves. Renowned for his defense, White was a complete player. He was named ALCS MVP in 1980, hitting .545 and he batted cleanup and led all players with six RBI in the 1985 World Series. He finished his career second on the Royals all-time list in games played (2,324), at bats (7,859), and hits (2,006).

SS Freddie Patek (1971-79)

Only a .241 hitter as a Royal, but he was a three-time All-Star and led the AL in steals (53) in 1977 and triples (11) in 1971. Shared Royals Player of the Year honors with Amos Otis in 1971 and finished sixth in the MVP voting. He also hit for the cycle that year on July 9. Manager Whitey Herzog called him the greatest artificial turf fielding shortstop he ever managed, ranking him ahead of Ozzie Smith. When asked by a reporter what it felt like to be the smallest player in the major leagues, Patek replied, “I’d rather be the smallest player in the majors than the tallest player in the minors.”  

3B George Brett (1973-93)

A Royals and Major League Baseball Hall of Famer, Brett was one of the best clutch hitters of all-time who was feared by opposing teams and managers alike and will forever define Royals baseball. An 8-time Royals Player of the Year, a 13-time All-star, a member of the 3,000 hit club (3,154) with a with a lifetime batting average of .305 and the first player (and only) to win a batting title in three different decades (1976, ’80, ’90). He hit .390 in 1980 in winning the MVP and led the Royals to their first World Series in 1985. In each season from 1977-1981, he had more doubles than strikeouts. In 1980, he HOMERED more times than he struck out – only one of two players to do that since 1951. He has career totals of more than 300 home runs, 600 doubles, 100 triples and 200 stolen bases as well as owning the all-time American League record for intentional walks. Not known for his defense, he worked hard at it and improved in that area and earned a Gold Glove in 1985. In 1999, Brett was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame with the fourth-highest vote percentage ever recorded (98%), where only nine voters left him off their ballots.

LF Willie Wilson (1976-90)

The speedster debuted in 1976, played significantly for the first time in 1978 and became a regular in 1979, where he stole a Royals record and league-high 83 stolen bases, and maintained his regular presence in the outfield and atop of the Royals order until 1988. Had a mammoth 1980 season, where he finished fourth in the MVP race, leading the league in AB’s (705), hits (230), runs (133) and triples (15), while hitting .326 and became the second player in MLB history with 100 hits from each side of the plate. He stole 79 bases while winning the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards. He was not an All-Star that year, and only was twice (82-83) and was Royals Player of the Year in 1981 and won the batting title in 1982 (.332). Wilson led the league in triples five times and set all-time Royals records with an amazing 13 career inside-the-park home runs and 612 stolen bases. He averaged 50 SB’s a season throughout his 19-year career and ranks 12th all-time in that category (668).

CF Amos Otis (1970-83)

The gifted outfielder was named Royals Player of the Year three times and was selected to five All-Star teams. Known as one of his era’s best center fielders, he won three Gold Gloves. In 1976, he led the league with 40 doubles and helped the Royals capture their first American League West title. Otis became a clear Kansas City fan favorite throughout his 14-year career and finished among the Royals all-time leaders in hits (1,977), home runs (193), runs scored (1,074), stolen bases (340) and games played (1,891).

RF Carlos Beltran (1998-2004)

Beltran’s best years as a pro were in Kansas City, although none of his eight All-Star appearances came in a Royals uniform. Splashed onto the scene in 1999 as the centerfielder and made up a very talented outfield, flanked by Johnny Damon and Jermaine Dye, who together led all big-league starting outfield trios with 546 hits, 108 doubles, 24 triples, 298 RBI and 41 assists and Beltran (.298 with 22 homers, 108 RBIs, seven triples and 27 stolen bases) earned Rookie of the Year honors, registering all but two of the first-place votes. In 2001, at the age of 24, matched George Brett as the youngest Royals Player of the Year, where he hit .358 in the second half of the season. He became just the third Royal to play all 162 games that year and led the Royals in every significant offensive category. In 2003, he became just the sixth player in big league history to record three seasons with 100 runs, 100 RBIs and 30 steals, joining Barry Bonds, George Sisler, Honus Wagner, Kiki Cuyler and Ty Cobb. Beltran was named an All-Star in 2004, but ended up playing in the game representing the Astros after a trade, replacing an injured Ken Griffey, Jr. Hit .287/.352/.483 with 123 HR, 516 RBI and 164 SB as a Royal, earning two Royals Player of the Year awards.

DH Hal McRae (1973-87)

McRae’s hard-nosed style of play set the tone for his teammates. He won two Royals Player of the Year honors and was selected as an All-Star three times. McRae led the league in doubles twice and RBI (133) once, in 1982. One of the first players to take the designated hitter role to star status, he finished his career second on the Royals career list in both doubles (449) and RBIs (1,012). McRae later managed the Royals from 1991 to 1994, posting a 286-277 (.508) record and had this epic tirade: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kamDqL-AGzI

Bench

Royals all-time bench

C Salvador Perez (2011-current)

Perez, just in his fifth season, is already a three-time All-Star and became the first position player to start the Mid-Summer Classic since Jermaine Dye in 2000 last season and joined three other Royals (two which are on this roster) – Alex Gordon, Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain – as the first players to get voted in by the fans since Dye (who was the first since Bo Jackson) this season. He has a great chance to be the best catcher in franchise history, but he isn’t quite there yet. He is, though, the best defensive catcher to ever wear a Royals uniform, hands down. He already owns two Gold Gloves and the Royals catcher record with 14 pickoffs. Perez has a decent slashline (.278/.305/.430) so far in his young career, but his plate discipline remains woeful. As a result, his batting average, OBP and OPS have dropped every season.

DH/1B/C Mike Sweeney (1995-2007)

Sweeney, a five-time Royals All-Star, two-time Royals Player of the Year and Royals captain from 2003-2007, enters the Royals Hall of Fame tonight. He was one of the most feared right-handed hitters in the American League from 1999-2005, where he compiled a .305 average with 161 home runs and 683 RBI and finished second in the batting title twice, hitting above .330 THREE times. He set the franchise record for RBI (144) in 2000 – the second best offensive season (.333/.407/.523, 29 HR – a career-high, also matched in 2001) in Royals history (George Brett, 1980) – where he finished second in the league. His .299 average is the second-best to Brett in franchise history. Sweeney played his first four years as a catcher and was nearly traded to the White Sox before moving to first base in 1999 after Jeff King’s sudden retirement in April. His career took off from there before injuries really slowed him down. In 1999, he posted the best fielding percentage for a first baseman in more than 20 years and posted a 25-game hitting streak – the third longest in franchise history. On August 13, 2000 he reached the 100 RBI mark faster than any player in Royals history. Sweeney’s .340 average in 2002 is the second best in franchise history, only behind Brett’s .390 in 1980. He is only one of five Royals to ever record a steal of home. Sweeney led the Royals in hitting six times and from 1999-2004, walked more times than he struck out five times and tied the other year (64 each in 2001).

SS Alcides Escobar (2011-current)

It was slim pickings in the middle infield. With Esky’s versatility, we assume he could play second base if needed, although the team may be better off with Patek at second and Esky at short. Although yet to win a Gold Glove, he has been the best defensive shortstop in the American League during his tenure. He has been up and down at the plate .264/.300/.347), but has posted consecutive good seasons at the plate for the first-time in his career. The All-Star is consistent as they come in stealing bases, where his is one of the best, stealing 22 or more bases in each season as a Royal (only 11 this year) with an exceptional 81% rate (139/170).

3B/1B Kevin Seitzer (1986-91)

Seizter splashed on the scene right away as a rookie in 1987, becoming the ninth rookie in A.L. history with 200+ hits, tying for league lead with 207, finishing second in the Rookie of the Year voting and was named to the 1987 AL All-Star team. Hit .294 in six seasons – third best in club history (minimum 500 games played). One of only three Royals with a six-hit game (6-6 on 8/2/1987 vs. Boston).

OF Alex Gordon (2007-current)

Gordon was tabbed as the next George Brett and received a standing ovation in his first MLB AB in the 2007 season opener at the K against the Red Sox and struck out to Curt Schilling and he hid have some hot stretches, but by 2009, he was optioned to the minors in August, returning when rosters expanded in September. In 2010, after another thumb injury, Gordon started the season on the DL and then optioned to Omaha again by May, where he would make the position change to the outfield (originally right field, before a switch to left) and returned in July as an outfielder. It’s the best thing that happened to his career as he had a breakout season in 2011, winning Royals Player of the Year honors, setting a Royals record in outfield assist, leading the league with 20 and won his first of four straight Gold Gloves. He was a nominee in the fan vote for the All-Star Game, finishing third behind Paul Konerko and Victor Martinez, but would make consecutive All-Star appearances the next three seasons in 2013, 2014, 2015, but missed the game due to injury the final two years. In 2012, he led the majors in doubles (51), falling three short or Hal McRae’s franchise record. The 2014 Platinum Glove Winner continues to be one of the most under-the-radar players in baseball.

Honorable Mentions (AAA): OF’s: Danny Tartabull, Jeremaine Dye, Bo Jackson, Johnny Damon, 3B Joe Randa

***

Rotation

Royals all-time rotation

SP Bret Saberhagen (1984-91)

Saberhagen, the Royals Hall of Famer became the Royals ultimate big-game pitcher mixing incredible skill and mound presence with precise command. The four-time Royals Pitcher of the Year won two American League Cy Young Awards: the first in 1985 after going 20-6 (2.87 ERA) and again when he posted a club record in wins (23) and led the league in ERA (2.16) in 1989. That same year Saberhagen also won a Gold Glove. In 1985, his nearly perfect postseason performance helped the Royals capture their first (and only) World Championship. Named World Series MVP, Saberhagen went 2-0 (0.50 ERA) with two complete games, including an 11-0 Game Seven shutout.

SP Zack Greinke (2004-2010)

Greinke had a losing record (60-67) as a Royal, with a 3.82 ERA – the highest ERA of any of the four teams he has played on – and only had a winning record twice (other than a 1-0 season in just three appearances in 2007), but he played on some really bad teams and was really good beginning in 2008 after a slow start to his career. After a solid rookie campaign in 2004, Greinke had a disastrous season in 2005, going 5-17 with a 5.80 ERA and then “quit” baseball the following spring training, only to return late in the season after pitching in the minors. A bullpen stint for a good part of 2007 was a blessing for Greinke, where he learned how to throw hard and carried it with him back into the rotation, for a 13-10 season in 2008 and a dominant 2009, where he was an All-Star and won the Cy Young with just 16 wins – the fewest ever at that time for a Cy Young winner (Felix Hernandez went just 13-12 in winning the award the next year) – while leading the league in ERA (2.16) and WHIP (1.073) while posting six complete games and three shutouts. His final season in 2010 was marred with little run support, a losing record (10-14) and an admitted lack of effort down the stretch as the Royals continued to lose. He was traded in the offseason. Of course, he’s 75-25 since. Dude was still a STUD, here.

SP Kevin Appier (1989-99; 2003-04)

Ape and his trademark delivery equaled one of the most dominating pitchers in his era. The Royals Hall of Famer was a three-time Royals Pitcher of the Year and retired as the club’s all-time strikeout leader with 1,458. He made more Opening Day starts (7) than any Kansas City pitcher before him. He posted the lowest ERA (2.56) in the league in 1993 and was named to the 1995 American League All-Star team. He also threw a pair of one-hit games and finished his career among the Royals top 10 in almost every pitching category including wins (115), ERA (3.49), shutouts (10), games started (275) and innings pitched (1,843.2).

SP Mark Gubicza (1984-96)

Gubicza, a Royals Hall of Famer, anchored the Royals pitching staff for over a decade. He was named Royals Pitcher of the Year two times and by the end of his career had recorded the second-most innings pitched in club history (2,218 2/3). After his 13 seasons, Gubicza was also the Royals all-time strikeout leader (1,366). On Aug. 27, 1988, the two-time All-Star set a franchise record with 14 strikeouts in a single game. His 132 career wins gave him the third-most ever collected by a Royals pitcher.

SP Dennis Leonard (1974-86)

A true workhorse, Leonard, the Royals Hall of Famer, was named Royals Pitcher of the Year three times, had three 20 win seasons and finished his career leading the Royals all-time list in complete games (103) and shutouts (23) and he was second in wins (144). He also held the club’s single-season bests in starts (40), complete games (21), innings pitched (294.2) and strikeouts (244). From 1975-1981, Leonard collected 130 wins – the most by any right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball.

Bullpen

Royals all-time bullpen

Closer Greg Holland (2010-current)

Due to a combination of factors, Holland, who was the best closer in the American League the last two seasons, has not been the same in 2015. His velocity was down earlier in the year. Since a DL stint, it has slowly climbed, but his control has wavered as he has walked more batters this year (21) than he did all of last year (20) in 30 less innings. Last night, he struck out the side for the second time in three outings, but the middle outing was his fourth blown save of the year – a career worst matched also in 2012, when he was 16/20 – as he allowed all six batters he faced to reach base, seeing his ERA climb to 4.15 (now 4.04) – well-above his career 2.40 mark.

Holland had a woeful debut in 2010, posting a 6.75 ERA, but posted three seasons under a 1.82 ERA in the next four before this one. Holland took over as the full-time closer when Jonathan Broxton was traded to Cincinnati in 2012. Since, the two-time All-Star has converted 91% of his saves (135/148), including this year – still better than any other Royals closer – and established a Royals save record (47) in 2013 and won the Mariano Rivera AL Relief Pitcher of the Year Award just last season.

Set-Up Dan Quisenberry (1979-88)

The Royals Hall of Famer is most remembered for his unconventional signature submarine delivery and his emergence in the bullpen was key to the Royals finally capturing their first American League pennant in 1980. He was named Royals Pitcher of the Year four times and was also selected to three American League All-Star teams. Quiz won American League Fireman of the Year honors and led the league in saves five times, including a then record-setting 45 in 1983. He finished second in the Cy Young voting in 1983 and 1984 and third in 1982 and 1985.

RP Joakim Soria (2007-2011)

The Royals found a gem in Soria, who they picked up as a Rule 5 pick in 2007 after seeing him pitch a no-hitter in the Mexican League. After protecting him early in the season, he was the closer midway through the season, and dominant the next three seasons, making the All-Star Game twice. Soria, riddled with elbow issues in 2011, still saved 28 games, but his ERA (4.03) and WHIP (1.276) was way up and his strikeouts (9.0) per nine were down. Prior, the “Mexicutioner’s” curveball was unhittable. When he was up in the count and hitters knew it was coming, they still couldn’t hit it. He missed all of 2012 with Tommy John surgery, before moving on to the Rangers in 2013. Oh, by the way, he was the Tigers closer this year before being moved to Pittsburgh. He had a 89% save success rate as a Royal.

RP Jeff Montgomery (1989-99)

Monty, the Royals Hall of Famer, was a three-time All-Star and 1998 Royals Pitcher of The Year. He led the club in saves for a decade and broke the traditional closer mold with an unconventional four-pitch repertoire. In 1993, he was American League Fireman of the Year with a league-leading 45 saves, which also tied the Royals club record. Montgomery was MLB’s 10th pitcher to reach the 300-plus saves mark, and the first to collect all of them with one club. He finished his career atop the Royals all-time list in appearances (686) and saves (304).

RP Tom Gordon (1988-1995)

At 5-foot-9, “Flash” was told he was too small to play professional baseball. He was told he would never make it as a starter, he would never make a reliable set-up man and he definitely could not be a closer.  Yet he proved his critics wrong. He was named Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Award in 1989 and was a three-time All-Star in 1998, 2004, and 2006 – none of which were with the Royals, where he was a part-time power arm in the pen and starting pitcher. He finished second in the Rookie of the Year balloting in 1989. Gordon began his career as a starting pitcher with the Kansas City Royals late in the 1988 season and became a sensation in Kansas City the following year, posting a 17-9 record and a 3.64 ERA, and he was named The Sporting News’ American League rookie Pitcher of the Year. Gordon recorded 153 strikeouts in 1989, the tenth highest total in the American League, which earned him the nickname “Flash.” He was versatile, starting no fewer than 11 games in any season while in KC. He was a full-time start in 1988, 1990 and 1994 and 1995 and primarily a relief pitcher in 1989 and 1991-93. As a Royal, he posted a 79-71 record with a 4.02 ERA, 1.415 WHIP and 1.70 SO/W rate.

RP Charlie Leibrandt (1984-89)

Leibrandt’s best years were the three he spent in Atlanta, but he was pretty damn good in Kansas City, going 76-61 with a 3.60 ERA, 1.315 WHIP, 1.72 SO/BB rate with 34 complete games and 10 shutouts. He was not a power pitcher by any means, averaging just 4.4 K/9 and was used almost exclusively as a starter in KC, but he just missed our rotation and had more votes than any other possible reliever, so we stuck him here. He posted five straight seasons with a winning record before a 5-11 mark in his last season in a Royals uniform, where he was eventually demoted to the bullpen. His best year came in the World Series year of 1985, where he finished fifth in the Cy Young, went 17-9 and posted a 2.69 ERA. But, for as good as he was in the regular season, Leibrandt may be best known for his postseason failures and hard luck. In 1984, facing elimination from the Tigers in the Best-of-Five ALCS, he tossed a complete game, but lost 1-0 on a fielders choice in the second inning. The following year, Leibrandt was beat badly by the Blue Jays in Game 1 of the ALCS. In Game 4, he took a 1-0 lead into the ninth inning, but saw Quisenberry allow both of his inherited runners to score, losing 2-1. In the World Series, he took a 2-0 lead into the ninth inning, but the Cardinals scored four, for the win. He replaced an injured Saberhagen in Game 7 of the ALCS that year, sending the Royals to the World Series and was picked up by the offense in Game 6 of the World Series, where he took a 3-hitter into the ninth inning. The Royals rallied and won the game 2-1 on a one-out bases-loaded bloop single by pinch-hitter Dane Iorg, in the infamous Don Denkinger game.

Honorable Mention: SP’s: Steve Busby, Larry Gura; RP’s Steve Farr, Steve Mingori

Herzog and Burke

Manager Whitey Herzog (1975-79)

Herzog led the Royals to three straight American League West titles from 1976-78. The 1977 Royals, perhaps the best team in franchise history, to a club record 102 wins. The first 13 players inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame all played during his five years in Kansas City. In each of those seasons, the Royals posted a winning record and never finished lower than second place. Herzog’s Kansas City career ended as the Royals all-time winningest manager, posting a record of 410-304 (.574).

General Manager Joe Burke (1973-92)

Under Burke’s guidance, the Royals enjoyed unprecedented success, winning six division crowns, captured two American League pennants and a World Series championship during his tenure. The Royals also set attendance records, which included 11 seasons that surpassed the 2 million mark – something that had not been done since 1991 until this season, where the Royals topped the 2 million plateau last night in the fewest amount of games in franchise history. Burke was named Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year in 1976 and honored with Kansas City’s “Mr. Baseball” Award in 1978.

***

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