We would like to welcome you to a new series here at Royals Blue. We will continue to post segments breaking down the 300 best players to ever play for Kansas City. There will be some familiar names, some not so familiar, and probably a few surprises along the way.
These are the Top 300 Kansas City Royals Players ranked in descending order. Each player's ranking is based on the Modified Production Index Formula (MPIF). Position players and pitchers, respectively, have a formula that is used to rank their overall contribution to the Kansas City Baseball Franchise in their Royals' career. The position player and pitching formula are located HERE.
The following players, ranked from #120 to 91, have biographical and statistical information about their tenure in Kansas City.
RANK #120 – JIM ROOKER (#13) – Starting Pitcher (1969-1972)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 966.47
26th Royals Player in Franchise History
Jim Rooker was selected from the Detroit Tigers in the 1968 Expansion draft to play for the Kansas City Royals. He became part of the starting rotation in the 1969 season. Despite having a respectable 3.75 ERA, Rooker’s record was only 4-16. On July 7, 1969, Rooker became the first Royal to hit two home runs in one game against the Minnesota Twins, despite being a pitcher. Rooker improved his record to 10-15 in 1970. On June 4, 1970, Rooker pitched a no-hitter 11 1/3 innings against the New York Yankees before taking the loss. In 1972, he was traded back the the Pittsburgh Pirates for pitcher Gene Garber. Rooker holds the club record for the most home runs by a pitcher in franchise history with five. He also had 32 hits, 20 runs and 23 RBIs, more than any other pitcher in Kansas City history.
RANK #119 – BOB HAMELIN (#3) – Designated Hitter (1993-1996)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 968.34
356th Royals Player in Franchise History
Bob Hamelin was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 1988. He made his major league debut on September 12, 1993 and played 16 games late in that season. In 1994, Bob Hamelin became the first rookie in Royals history to start on opening day as designated hitter. He hit six home runs in his first month in the majors and was batting .361. Hamelin ended up hitting 24 home runs on the season along with 65 RBIs and a .282 batting average. The season, however, was cut short by the baseball strike, but Hamelin did manage to win the American League Rookie-of-the-Year honors. The 1995 season was not so pleasant. Hamelin only managed a .168 batting average and was sent down to AAA Omaha more than once. In 1996, Hamelin was the opening day first baseman for the Royals. He continued to have problems and by April 22, he only had a .184 batting average and one home run. Jose Offerman was moved to first base from shortstop and Hamelin was moved back to the designated hitter position to concentrate on his batting. After a brief time at AAA Omaha, Hamelin came back with some power and was able to raise his average to .255. In 1997, after a miserable spring training, the Royals had seen enough and they released Hamelin. He would eventually be picked up by the Detroit Tigers. Hamelin hit a career .241 for the Kansas City Royals with 42 home runs. His career 648 plate appearances as a designated hitter is sixth all-time in franchise history.
RANK #118 – PAT SHERIDAN (#15) – Right Field (1981-1985)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 976.39
167th Royals Player in Franchise History
Pat Sheridan was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 1979. He made his major league debut on September 16, 1981. He only appeared in three games that season and did not return to the major leagues until 1983. This time around, Sheridan became the everyday right fielder for the Royals, batting an impressive .270 and stealing 12 bases. He began the 1984 season in center field in place of the injured Willie Wilson. By mid-May, Sheridan returned right field. His batting average went up to .283 and stole 19 bases. His best game came May 19, 1984 against the Texas Rangers when Sheridan hit a grand slam home run in a 6-2 victory. In 1985, his performance slipped to a .228 batting average. Although beginning the season as a starting outfielder, his lack of power prompted the Royals to acquire Lonnie Smith from the Cardinals. Sheridan’s role for the remainder of the season was as a utility outfielder. Sheridan represented the Royals in the nearly every game of the 1984 ALCS, 1985 ALCS and the 1985 World Series. He started four of the seven games of the 1985 World Series in right field. Sheridan was released the following year and picked up by the Detroit Tigers. He hit .267 in his Royals career with 42 stolen bases. He played 1,632 1/3 innings in right field.
RANK #117 – BRIAN BANNISTER (#19) – Starting Pitcher (2007-2010)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 997.99
654th Royals Player in Franchise History
Brian Bannister was traded by the New York Mets to the Kansas City Royals for relief pitcher Ambiorix Burgos. Brian is the son of all-star pitcher Floyd Bannister, who played for the Royals between 1988 and 1989. In his first season, Bannister became a part of the Royals starting rotation. In June, he was one of only two pitchers to win five games during the month and sported an ERA of 2.75. He was named the Rookie-of-the-Month and finished the season in third place for American League Rookie-of-the-Year honors. He ended the season with a 3.87 ERA and a 12-9 record, leading the team in wins for the season. Bannister had a major downturn in 2008 when his ERA shot up to 5.76, giving up a major league leading four grand slams for the season. In 2009, Bannister turned things around until he suffered a season-ending rotator cuff injury. In 2010 season, Bannister split time between Kansas City and the minor leagues. It would be his last season in the major leagues. Bannister finished his Royals career with a 35-49 record and ERA of 5.13 in 108 starts.
RANK #116 – DANNY DUFFY (#23) – Starting Pitcher (2011-2016)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 1,005.61
736th Royals Player in Franchise History
Danny Duffy was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 2007. He made his major league debut starting a game on May 18, 2011. Duffy had 20 starts in his first season with the Royals, pitching a 5.64 ERA and a 4-8 record. After only six starts in 2012, Duffy tore his UCL and missed the rest of the season and most of 2013 season due to Tommy John Surgery. He returned on August 7, 2013 and started five games. He was shut down after his fifth start due to soreness. By 2014, Duffy was fully recovered. He began the the month of April in the bullpen, but by May was made a part of the starting rotation. Duffy had an outstanding outing on May 17, 2014 against the Baltimore Orioles, where he pitched seven scoreless innings to earn the 1-0 win. His season ERA was 2.53, one of the best in the major leagues. Duffy suffered a slight injury in September, but was able to return to the lineup for the Royals’ playoff berth. In the first appearance in the playoffs in 29 years, Duffy began pitching in long relief out of the bullpen. Duffy struggled in the World Series with a 4.91 ERA in two appearances. His struggles continued in 2015 with a 4.35 ERA in 24 starts with the Royals before being sent to the bullpen in September. He had six scoreless appearances in the bullpen and was named to the postseason pitching staff for Kansas City. He struggled in the postseason with a 6.00 ERA in six appearances, but did earn a win in the ALCS against Toronto. Duffy helped the Royals win the second-ever World Series Title. He has a career 3.80 ERA with the Royals in 92 appearances as of 2015. Duffy is still pitching for the Royals.
RANK #115 – YORDANO VENTURA (#30) – Starting Pitcher (2013-2016)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 1,007.74
775th Royals Player in Franchise History
Yordano Ventura was signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Royals in 2008, when he was only 17 years old in the Dominican Republic. He was brought up to the big leagues in September of 2013 and pitched three games. He astounded players with his fastball which was clocked at over 100 miles per hour. In 2014, Ventura made the starting rotation and became an instant success. Dubbed “Ace” Ventura, he led the team, along with James Shields, with 14 victories. He recorded 10 strikeouts against the San Diego Padres on May 5 in a no-decision. He had more starts than any other rookie pitcher in Royals history. He was considered the hardest-throwing starting pitcher in baseball. Ventura helped catapult the Royals into their first playoff berth in 29 years. Despite having a very shaky appearance in the Wild Card game against the Oakland Athletics, Ventura dazzled during the rest of the playoffs. His 3.20 ERA was the best among Royals’ starting pitchers. He pitched a 1.46 ERA in the World Series with a crucial victory in Game 6 against the San Francisco Giants. In 2015, he was named the Opening Day starter for the Royals. Unfortunately, he struggled most of the season. He had been suspended due to his temper on the mound and his ERA was 4.73 by the All-Star break. After August 1, Ventura turned things around. He went 8-1 with a 3.23 ERA during that span and recorded 86 strikeouts in 80 innings pitched. He helped Kansas City to their second playoff berth in a row. Ventura struggled in the ALDS with a 0-1 record and a 7.74 ERA in two appearances. Things improved during the ALCS against Toronto, pitching 10 2/3 innings with a 3.38 ERA. He only made one start in the World Series, giving up five runs in 3 1/3 innings and had the only loss for the Royals against the New York Mets. Despite this setback, the Royals were able to win the World Series for the second time in franchise history. He has a 3.61 career ERA in Kansas City and 27-19 record as of 2015. Ventura is still pitching for the Kansas City Royals.
RANK #114 – CHRIS HANEY (#33) – Starting Pitcher (2007-2010)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 1,015.46
338th Royals Player in Franchise History
Chris Haney was traded to the Kansas City Royals, along with Bill Sampen, by the Montreal Expos for Archie Corbin and Sean Berry in August of 1992. He was immediately placed in the starting lineup, starting seven games in his first season with the Royals with a 3.86 ERA. Haney began the 1993 season at AAA Omaha before being called up to Kansas City. He started the remainder of the season, but had a disappointing 6.06 ERA and 9-9 record. Most of 1994 was spent in Omaha, but in 1995, he was recalled to the Royals with great success. His 1995 ERA dropped to 3.65 in 13 starts for the Royals. His big break came in 1996, when he started 35 games for the Kansas City. He became the second-most productive starter behind Tim Belcher and had a career high 228 innings pitched. Although giving up a league-leading 267 hits, Haney managed a 10-14 record and 4.70 ERA. The next season saw Haney in the minors again for most of the time, but in 1998, he returned to the Royals for most of the season. That season, he split time as a starter and relief pitcher and his ERA shot up to 7.03. His contract was sold to the Chicago Cubs in September. Haney had a 33-40 record with the Royals in 99 starts.
RANK #113 – MARK LITTELL (#17) – Closing Pitcher (1973-1977)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 1,020.185
79th Royals Player in Franchise History
Mark Littell was selected in the 1971 baseball draft by the Kansas City Royals. Littell made his major league debut on June 14, 1973. He was the youngest pitcher ever to start for the Royals until Bret Saberhagen in 1984. He was brought up from AAA to start seven games in June and July. He posted a 1-4 record with a 5.68 ERA. He was given the nickname “Air Head” by his teammates because they believed him a bit flaky. He spent the entire 1974 season and most of the 1975 season at AAA Omaha. He was brought back up in 1976 as a closer for the Royals, making 60 appearances with an amazing 2.08 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 104 innings pitched. He did not give up an earned run in his first 17 2/3 innings that season. He made 16 saves that season and was named the Royals Pitcher-of-the-Year in the first year that the Royals made the playoffs. He closed most of the 1977 season with a 3.61 ERA in 104 2/3 innings pitched, spot-starting five games, struck out 106 on the season. At the end of the season, the Royals felt they needed a left-hander in the bullpen, so they traded Littell, along with catcher Buck Martinez, to the St. Louis Cardinals for Al “The Mad Hungarian” Hrabosky. Littell had an 3.32 ERA in his 123 appearances with the Royals. Littell, along with Steve Mingori and Hipolito Pichardo, are the only Royals pitchers to have at bats in the designated hitter age of baseball prior to interleague play in 1997.
RANK #112 – ROGER NELSON (#35) – Starting Pitcher (1969-1972, 1976)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 1,020.186
17th Royals Player in Franchise History
Roger “Spider” Nelson was the first overall pick in the 1968 Expansion Draft by the Kansas City Royals. In the Royals inaugural season, Nelson made an immediate impact by pitching a 3.31 ERA with 89 strikeouts in 29 starts. Although he only had a 7-13 record in that first season, Nelson along with Wally Bunker became a formidable pair of starters for the Royals. However, injuries took its toll and Nelson pitched very little over the next two seasons. But by 1972, he bounced back with a career year, pitching an 11-6 record with a 2.02 ERA, 120 strikeouts and only 31 walks. In his last game of 1972, which was also the last game in Municipal Stadium history, Nelson pitched a complete game shutout of the Texas Rangers. At the end of the season, Nelson was named the Royals Player-of-the-Year. After the 1972 season, Nelson was traded, along with Richie Scheinblum, to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Wayne Simpson and Hal McRae. He bounced around several teams over the next few years until being signed by the Royals again in 1976. He only pitched three games before officially retiring. He pitched 418 1/3 innings in 83 appearances with the Royals.
RANK #111 – LUIS AQUINO (#27) – Middle Relief Pitcher (1988-1992)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 1,021.31
262nd Royals Player in Franchise History
Luis Aquino was traded to the Kansas City Royals from the Toronto Blue Jays for Juan Beniquez in July of 1987. After throwing a no-hitter in the minor leagues, Aquino was promoted to the Royals and in his first seven games he pitched a 2.79 ERA. He earned a spot in the bullpen in 1989 with some spot starts, recording a 3.50 ERA. On July 15, 1989, Aquino pitched a complete game 7-1 victory over the New York Yankees. He missed part of the 1990 season with a chest injury, but managed a 3.16 ERA, 4-1 record, and 28 strikeouts in 20 appearances. In 1991, he again pitched both as a starter and from the bullpen. On June 28, 1991, Aquino pitched a 11-0 complete game shutout of the Oakland Athletics, striking out seven. In his last season with the Royals, he missed three months of the beginning of the season with a shoulder injury. When he returned, he started in 13 of his 15 games of the season with an ERA of 4.52. After the season, his contract was sold to the newly created Florida Marlins. Aquino’s overall record with the Royals was 22-19 with 55 starts in 114 appearances.
RANK #110 – DAVID CONE (#17) – Starting Pitcher (1986, 1993-1994)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 1,024.62
227th Royals Player in Franchise History
David Cone was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. He was selected in the draft by Kansas City in 1981. He made his major league debut on June 8, 1986. In his first year in the majors, Cone had a rough time as a relief pitcher. He made only 11 appearances and ended with a 5.56 ERA. Cone was traded in 1987 to the New York Mets, along with a minor league player, for Ed Hearn, Rick Anderson and a minor league player. While in New York, Cone had a brilliant career including a no-hitter. After 5 1/2 seasons in New York, he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992. After the 1992 season, he signed as a free agent with the Kansas City Royals, becoming the highest paid pitcher in baseball. His first season was a disappointment for Cone. He finished 1993 with a 11-14 record with a 3.33 ERA. However, Cone had a fantastic season in 1994. He pitched a 2.94 ERA with a 16-5 record in the strike-shortened season. Between May 11 and May 22, 1994, Cone pitched three straight complete game shutouts against the Minnesota Twins, Seattle Mariners and California Angels, respectively. He finished the season the American League Cy Young Award winner. When the players went on strike that ended the season, Cone became one of the Major League Baseball Players Association representatives in the negotiations with Major League Baseball. In April of 1995, Kansas City traded Cone to the Toronto Blue Jays for Chris Stynes and two other minor league players. Cone had a 3.29 career ERA with the Royals and a 27-19 record. He had 344 strikeouts in 449 innings pitched with the Royals.
RANK #109 – BILL PECOTA (#32) – Utility Player (1986-1991)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 1,035.69
234th Royals Player in Franchise History
Bill Pecota was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 1981. He broke into the majors in 1986 in some spot appearances in the infield. Pecota batted .254 in 445 appearances with the Kansas City Royals. He earned the nickname “I-29” due to the number of times he travelled between Kansas City and AAA Omaha. His best season was in 1991 when he became the primary third baseman for the team for the injured Kevin Seitzer. His best game came in the first game of a doubleheader against the New York Yankees on July 14, 1989, when he went 3-5 with two home runs and three RBIs in a 14-5 victory. In late 1991, he was traded, along with Bret Saberhagen, to the New York Mets for Kevin McReynolds, Gregg Jefferies and Keith Miller. Pecota had two inside-the-park home runs while playing with the Royals. He became the only Royals player in franchise history to play every position during his career in Kansas City. He made his only pitching appearance on June 24, 1991 against the the California Angels, pitching two innings with one earned run. Bill Pecota also has the distinction of having a baseball statistic named after him, called PECOTA (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm). PECOTA was created in 2002 as a sabermetric system of forecasting player performance.
RANK #108 – DAVID HOWARD (#6) – Shortstop (1991-1997)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 1,037.74
304th Royals Player in Franchise History
David Howard was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 1987. He made his major league debut on April 14, 1991 at second base against the New York Yankees. Howard primarily played shortstop in 1991, but did play four other positions. He only batted .214 in his first season. His second season only saw slight improvements to his batting average and he spent most of 1993 and 1994 in the minor leagues or on the disabled list. He was an emergency pitcher for one game in 1994 where he pitched two innings and only gave up one run. In 1995, he became a full-time utility player for the Royals again, splitting time between second base, shortstop and the outfield. His best season came in 1996 when he became the everyday shortstop for the Royals. Although he only hit .219, he had the best fielding percentage of any shortstop in the American League. In the off-season, the Royals had acquired shortstop Jay Bell, and Howard was cast back into the role of utility player. At the end of the season, Howard was granted free agency and he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals. Howard is eighth all-time in Royals history for innings played at shortstop with 2,626 2/3. He finished his Royals career with a .229 batting average.
RANK #107 – JORGE ORTA (#3) – Designated Hitter (1984-1987)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 1,045.32
202nd Royals Player in Franchise History
Jorge Orta was traded to the Kansas City Royals from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Willie Aikens in late 1983. He began the season as a backup outfielder. However, due to his poor performance in the outfield, Orta was moved to designated hitter and platooned in that role with the aging Hal McRae. The platoon was very successful, utilizing Orta’s left-handed bat and McRae’s right-handed swing. His first season with the Royals was outstanding, hitting .298 with nine home runs. The two continued to platoon in the 1985 season and both players hit for a combined 19 home runs and 114 RBIs. He became only the fifth Royals player to start at designated hitter on opening day of 1985. In the 1985 World Series, there was not designated hitter, so Orta was relegated to pinch hitting. In Game 6, Orta was brought in to pinch hit for outfielder Darryl Motley. His weak single was one of the most controversial calls in World Series history because he was called safe when the replay clearly showed that he was out. The Royals went on to win Game 6 in the bottom of the ninth inning and move on to win the World Series. McRae and Orta went on platooning the designated hitter position in 1986 with moderate success, but age began taking its toll on both players. However, Orta did have the best game of his Kansas City career on September 14, 1986 against the Seattle Mariners when he went 3-5 with a home run and four RBIs in the 10-3 victory. In 1987, Kevin Seitzer was moved to third base and Steve Balboni was made the primary designated hitter. Both Orta and Hal McRae were released in mid-July. Orta hit .277 in his Royals career with 24 home runs and 145 RBIs. He is fifth all-time in franchise history for plate appearances as designated hitter with 1,182.
RANK #106 – PETE LACOCK (#8) – First Base (1977-1980)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 1,046.17
116th Royals Player in Franchise History
Pete LaCock came to the Kansas City Royals as part of a three-team trade of minor league players from the Chicago Cubs in late 1976. He is the son of Peter Marshall, the long-time host of the television show “Hollywood Squares.” In his first season, LaCock was primarily a utility player and pinch hitter. With the departure of John Mayberry, LaCock split time with Clint Hurdle at first base and outfield. By 1979, he was the everyday first baseman and in 1980 was in the opening day lineup. He played in three League Championships and made a brief appearance in the 1980 World Series at first base. LaCock hit .277 in his career with the Royals along with 12 home runs and 151 RBIs. He only had 88 strikeouts out of 1104 at-bats. Possibly his best game was on June 24, 1978 against the Oakland Athletics when he hit 2-3 with an intentional walk, home run and four RBIs. After the 1980 season, LaCock was granted free agency and ended his major league career. LaCock played 1,961 1/3 innings at first base, which places him 10th all-time in franchise history at that position.
RANK #105 – AARON CROW (#43) – Middle Relief Pitcher (2011-2014)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 1,064.58
727th Royals Player in Franchise History
Aaron Crow was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the first round in 2009. Crow grew up outside Topeka, Kansas and pitched for the University of Missouri. Crow made his major league debut on March 31, 2011. He was the best middle relief pitcher on the staff that season. His ERA was only 2.08 before the all-star break. He was named to the All-Star Game in 2011 as a rookie, but did not pitch. Crow struggled toward the end of the season, but still had a 2.76 season ERA with 65 strikeouts in 62 innings pitched. His workload increased in 2012, but his ERA rose to 3.48. In 2013, he was a part of the best bullpen in the American League with a 44 strikeouts in 48 innings pitched. His 2014 season, however, was not as good. Despite having a 6-1 record, his ERA rose to 4.12 and he had three blown saves. Before the all-star break, Crow’s ERA was a respectable 2.75. After the break, Crow started having trouble with his command. Despite being in the best bullpen in baseball, Crow was left off the 25-man roster when the Royals made the post-season for the first time in 29 years. After the season, Kansas City traded Aaron Crow to the Miami Marlins for Brian Flynn and a minor league pitcher. His career record with the Royals in 20-11 with six saves and 57 holds. He is third all-time in holds for the Royals behind Kelvin Herrera and Jason Grimsley.
RANK #104 – TED ABERNATHY (#36) – Closing Pitcher (1970-1972)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 1,065.39
49th Royals Player in Franchise History
Ted Abernathy was traded to the Kansas City Royals for Chris Zachary in 1970. Abernathy went on to become the first Royals pitcher to post more than 20 saves in a season. He had a very distinctive side-arm pitch due to an injury and surgery he had early in his baseball career. He pitched 144 games in relief with 2.31 ERA in his Royals career. Abernathy made an immediate impact upon his arrival with Kansas City when he went 9-3 in his first season. In 1972, as the oldest player in the American League at 39 years, Abernathy pitched 45 games in relief with a 1.70 ERA. He was released at the end of the 1972 season. Abernathy finished his career with the Kansas City Royals after 13 years in the majors. He appeared in 144 games.
RANK #103 – JAMES SHIELDS (#33) – Starting Pitcher (2013-2014)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 1,066.30
761st Royals Player in Franchise History
James Shields was traded to the Kansas City Royals, along with pitcher Wade Davis and utility player Elliot Johnson, for Jake Odorizzi, Wil Myers, and two minor league players from the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013. Shields was a big gamble for the Royals that paid off. Shields became the ace of the rotation in 2013, leading the league in games started. He was known as “Big Game James,” after his boyhood hero James Worthy of the Los Angeles Lakers. During the 2013 season, he was seventh in the league in strikeouts with 196. He had a 13-9 record with a 3.15 ERA, one of the best in the major leagues. Shields was very consistent throughout the season, although he lacked run support. His abilities carried over to the 2014 season, leading the team with 14 victories along with Yordano Ventura. He averaged 6 2/3 innings per game and led the team in strikeouts with 180. His best game came on August 9 when he had a complete game shutout of the San Francisco Giants, striking out five. He led the league in starts with 34 and was third in batters faced. Shields was the ace pitcher on one of the best starting rotations in baseball and helped lead the Royals to their first playoff berth in 29 years. Unfortunately, Shields did not perform well in the post-season. Shields had a 6.12 ERA and a 1-2 record in the post-season. After the World Series, Shields became a free agent and signed with the San Diego Padres. He left the Royals with a 27-17 record and a 3.18 ERA in 68 starts.
RANK #102 – DARRYL MOTLEY (#24) – Utility Outfield (1981-1986)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 1,066.87
165th Royals Player in Franchise History
Darryl Motley was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 1978. He made his major league debut starting in right field on August 10, 1981 against the Baltimore Orioles. He only played 42 games in 1981 before being sent to the minor leagues for all of the 1982 season. In 1983, he was only brought up for 15 games. His breakout year was 1984 when he played the majority of the season in left field. He showed power by hitting 15 home runs with a batting average of .284. One of his best games came May 25, 1984 in an 8-5 victory over the Boston Red Sox. Motley hit 3-4 with a triple, home run, five RBIs and three runs. The other great game came on September 24 of that same year when Motley hit a grand slam against the California Angels. In 1985, his production faded as his batting average dropped to .222. Motley ended up platooning with Pat Sheridan in right field for the season. Motley played in both the 1984 and 1985 ALCS games, but his most memorable game came in Game 7 of the 1985 World Series. In Game 7, Motley hit a two-run home run and caught the final out off a hit from St. Louis Cardinal Andy Van Slyke to win the World Series. Unfortunately, his production faded even further in 1986 and he was eventually traded in September to the Atlanta Braves for pitcher Steve Shields. He did have one shining moment in 1986 when he hit his second career grand slam against the New York Yankees on August 10, 1986. Motley hit a career .245 for the Royals. Motley played 1,155 2/3 innings in left field and his 1,780 innings played in right field is seventh all-time franchise history.
RANK #101 – MIKE AVILES (#30) – Utility Infield (2008-2011)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 1,067.71
674th Royals Player in Franchise History
Mike Aviles was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 2003. He made his major league debut on May 29, 2008. He replaced the struggling Tony Pena, Jr. as starting shortstop for the Royals. He hit an amazing .325 in 102 appearances with the Royals with 10 home runs and 51 RBIs. The Royals named him Player of the Year in 2008 and he finished fourth in the American League Rookie-of-the-Year Awards. His 2009 season was shortened due to an injury sustained while representing Puerto Rico at the World Baseball Classic. He required Tommy John surgery and he missed most of the season. In 2010, Aviles was moved to second base for most of the season after the Royals had acquired Yuniesky Betancourt. Fully recovered from his injury, Aviles hit .304 during the season with eight home runs and 14 stolen bases. Aviles was moved yet again in 2011, this time to third base. He struggled offensively and he was demoted to AAA Omaha to make room for rookie Mike Moustakas. He was traded in July of 2011 to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Yamaico Navarro. Mike Aviles finished with a .286 batting average for the Royals. He played 1,150 innings at shortstop and 1,036 2/3 innings at second base while in Kansas City.
RANK #100 – JIM WOHLFORD (#6) – Left Field (1972-1976)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 1,072.73
70th Royals Player in Franchise History
Jim Wohlford was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 1970. Wohlford had his major league debut on September 1, 1972 against the Boston Red Sox. He spent most of 1972 and 1973 in the minor leagues. His big break came in 1974 when he became the full-time left fielder for the Royals. He hit .271 with 16 stolen bases. His best game came on October 2, 1974 against the Chicago White Sox. Wohlford hit 3-4 with a double and three RBIs. His role as a starter began to diminish in 1975 when Al Cowens came on during the season. His batting average dropped to .255 with 12 stolen bases. He platooned in left field in 1976 with the hot-hitting rookie Tom Poquette. Wohlford’s batting average slumped to .249. Wohlford did make an appearance in the 1976 ALCS against the New York Yankees. Just before opening day in 1977, Wohlford was traded, along with Jamie Quirk and Bob McClure, to the Milwaukee Brewers for Jim Colborn and Darrell Porter. He finished his Royals career ninth all-time in innings played in left field at 1,969. He also had two career inside-the-park home runs for the Royals.
RANK #99 – JAMIE QUIRK (#9) – Catcher (1975-1976, 1979-1982, 1985-1988)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 1,080.26
102nd Royals Player in Franchise History
Jamie Quirk was selected in the first round of the free-agent draft by the Royals in 1972. He made his major league debut on September 4, 1975 when he drew a walk as a pinch hitter. Quirk went on to appear as a Royals uniform for 11 of his 17 years in the major leagues. Quirk was a very versatile player, playing every position except pitcher and center field early in his career. He finally settled down as a backup catcher by the late 1980s. Quirk played 2,214 innings as a catcher, which places him 10th all-time in Royals history. He started two games as designated hitter in the 1976 American League Championships as well as an appearance in the 1985 ALCS against Toronto. Quirk was the opening day catcher in 1980. He played for seven other teams besides the Royals in his career. Perhaps Quirk’s most important game for the Royals was when he was playing for the Cleveland Indians. On September 27, 1984, in his only at-bat for Cleveland, Quirk hit the game-winning home run for the Indians against the Minnesota Twins. The Cleveland win over the Twins allowed the Royals to clinch the division and a playoff berth in 1984. On August 22, 1987, Quirk hit his only grand slam home run in his Royals career against the Milwaukee Brewers. After his playing career, Quirk became a bullpen and bench coach for the Royals from 1994 to 2001.
RANK #98 – ALBERTO CALLASPO (#13) – Second Base (2008-2010)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 1,097.50
668th Royals Player in Franchise History
Alberto Callaspo was traded to the Kansas City Royals by the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Billy Buckner in 2007. He was a utility infielder in his first season with the Royals as a backup to Mark Grudzielanek at second base and Tony Pena, Jr. at shortstop. He hit .305 in his first season. Although he did not start the 2009 season at second base, Callaspo became the everyday player at the position and a major part of the offense. He hit .300 with 11 home runs and 73 RBIs on the season. On June 10, 2009, Callaspo hit a grand slam against the Cleveland Indians. He did not do as well on defense, posting the worst fielding percentage of any second baseman in the American League. His 2010 season went very well with eight home runs and a .275 batting average. However, by mid-July, Callaspo was traded to the Anaheim Angels in exchange for starting pitchers Sean O’Sullivan and Will Smith. Callaspo ended his Royals career tenth in franchise history in innings played at second base with 1,704 2/3 with a .293 batting average.
RANK #97 – MIKE HEDLUND (#32) – Starting Pitcher (1969-1972)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 1,102.65
25th Royals Player in Franchise History
Mike Hedlund was selected in the 1968 Expansion Draft from the Cleveland Indians. He was nicknamed “Booger Red” due to his red hair and freckles. In the Royals’ inaugural season, Hedlund split time between starting and relief pitching. He posted as 1.69 ERA from the bullpen and a 3.24 ERA overall in his first season. In the off-season, Hedlund was sent to Venezuela to improve his pitching. Unfortunately, he contracted bronchitis and the “Hong Kong Flu.” Because of the illness and the loss of 30 pounds, Hedlund struggled in his second season and played most of the year at AAA Omaha. However, by 1972, Hedlund returned to Kansas City to have the best season of his career. He went 15-8 in 30 games started with an ERA of 2.71, fourth in the league. In his final season with the Royals, he began the season 0-5 as a starter and was moved to the bullpen. At the conclusion of the season, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians for Kurt Bevacqua. He would never play at the major league level again. Hedlund made 104 appearances with Kansas City.
RANK #96 – GIL MECHE (#55) – Starting Pitcher (2007-2010)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 1,104.89
645th Royals Player in Franchise History
Gil Meche signed with the Kansas City Royals in 2006 as a free agent after playing for the Seattle Mariners. His contract matched Mike Sweeney’s as the largest in club history. Meche became the opening day starting pitcher for the next three seasons. In his first two seasons, Meche led the American League in starts. His ERA over the first two season was a respectable 3.82. In 2008, he had his only winning season with the Royals with an 14-11 record. He struck out 183 during the season. His best game came on June 16, 2009 when he pitched a complete game shutout of the Arizona Diamondbacks while striking out six. However, after throwing 132 pitches in the game, Meche starting developing back problems. His ERA for the rest of the season was 8.06. After nine starts in 2010, Meche was placed on the disabled list for most of the season. He returned in 2010 to make 11 relief appearances. He was 0-5 for the 2010 season. Meche decided to retire after the season. Meche was 29-39 with the Kansas City Royals and finished his Kansas City career with a 4.27 ERA in 111 games pitched.
RANK #95 – REY SANCHEZ (#1) – Shortstop (1999-2001)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 1,119.82
455th Royals Player in Franchise History
Rey Sanchez signed as a free agent in 1998 after playing for the San Francisco Giants. He became the opening day shortstop all three seasons he was with the Royals. In his first season, Sanchez hit .294 with 11 stolen bases and 56 RBIs. He was considered one of the top fielding shortstops in the American League. His best game came on April 30, 1999 when he went 3-5 with a triple and four RBIs over the New York Yankees. In 2000, his offensive numbers dropped slightly, only hitting .273. In 2001, he had the best batting performance of his career with a .303 batting average by the end of the July. However, the Royals had just acquired all-star shortstop Neifi Perez from Colorado, so Sanchez was traded to the Atlanta Braves for Brad Voyles and a minor league player. Sanchez hit .289 for the Royals and is seventh all-time for innings played at shortstop with 3,177 2/3 in 377 games played.
RANK #94 – MATT STAIRS (#12) – Utility Player (2004-2006)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 1,129.62
567th Royals Player in Franchise History
Matt Stairs signed as a free agent to play for the Kansas City Royals after playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Stairs was a Canadian player who would go on to play for 12 different teams, more than any other position player in major league history. In his first season, Stairs was a everyday utility player. He split time as an outfielder, first baseman, and designated hitter. Stairs hit .267 with 18 home runs and 66 RBIs. On April 20, 2004, Stairs hit his first grand slam as a Royals player against the Cleveland Indians. In 2005, Stairs still was utilized in the utility role, but played much more at first base, splitting time with Mike Sweeney. He continued to be a steady hitter, driving in 13 home runs. He hit his second grand slam on July 14, 2005 against the Detroit Tigers. During the 2006 season, Stairs saw even more time at designated hitter until he was traded to the Texas Rangers in late July for Jose Diaz. Stairs hit .269 in 330 appearances for the Royals and hit 39 home runs while in Kansas City.
RANK #93 – MARK QUINN (#14) – Left Field (1999-2002)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 1,129.91
473rd Royals Player in Franchise History
Mark Quinn was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 1995. He made his major league debut on September 14, 1999. In his 17 appearances in 1999, Quinn hit .333 with six home runs. Two of his home runs came in his first game, becoming only the third major league player ever to do so in the first career game. His performance earned him a chance to start on opening day in 2000 at designated hitter. Quinn hit .294 in his first full season in the major leagues. He hit his first career grand slam on September 3, 2000 against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Quinn’s performance in the 2000 season earned him American League Rookie-of-the-Year honors. He continued to play well in 2001, splitting time between left and right field and hitting .269 with 17 home runs. However, he missed the beginning of the 2002 season due to an off-season “kung fu” injury while sparring with his brother. He only played 23 games and was sent down to the minors by the early part of June. Quinn was released from the Royals in 2003 and he signed with the San Diego Padres. He never played in the major leagues again. He hit .282 with the Kansas City Royals along with hitting 45 home runs. He logged 1,211 1/3 innings in left field.
RANK #92 – TOM BURGMEIER (#22) – Middle Relief Pitcher (1969-1973)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 1,131.07
10th Royals Player in Franchise History
Tom Burgmeier was acquired from the California Angels in the 1968 Expansion Draft. He became the first relief pitcher in Royals history on opening day of 1969 when he relieved Wally Bunker in the sixth inning. In his first season, Burgmeier was primarily middle relief in front of Moe Drabowsky and had a 4.17 ERA. By 1970, his ERA dropped to 3.16 and posted 43 strikeouts in 68 1/3 innings. In 1971, he split closing duties with Ted Abernathy and by 1972, he became the primary closer for the Royals. In 1973, Tom Burgmeier had a disastrous season and was demoted to AAA Omaha in May. Eventually, he would be traded to the Minnesota Twins for a minor league player. Burgmeier had a 4.33 ERA with the Kansas City Royals and a 24-16 record in 196 pitching appearances. Eventually, he became a pitching coach for the Royals in 1991 and between 1998 and 2000.
RANK #91 – JARROD DYSON (#1) – Center Field (2010-2016)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 1,131.85
722nd Royals Player in Franchise History
Jarrod Dyson was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 2006. He was the 1,475th overall pick in the draft, making him the lowest draft pick in franchise history to make the big leagues. He made his major league debut on September 7, 2010. In the month of September, Dyson stole nine bases in 18 games despite having a .211 batting average. Dyson was selected to the roster at the start of the 2011 season, but by mid-May, he was hitting only .167 and was demoted to AAA Omaha. He was only called up for a few games the remainder of the 2011 season. His 2012 season was much improved and became the everyday center fielder for the Royals. Dyson hit .260 with 30 stolen bases during the season. Dyson was easily the fastest member of the Royals organization. In the 2013 season, Dyson split time with Lorenzo Cain in center field. He had a career high 34 stolen bases and was only caught six times. His best game came on May 10, 2013 when he went 1-3 with a homerun and three RBIs. Dyson became the Royals utility outfielder for 2014, splitting time with Lorenzo Cain in center field. He led the team with 36 stolen bases as the Royals led the major leagues in that category. Dyson was also instrumental in helping the Royals make their first playoff appearance in 29 years. He had a limited role in the playoffs, but started in three games in the World Series when the Royals played under National League rules which left designated hitter Billy Butler out of the lineup. Dyson stole four bases in the 2014 post-season and coined the phrase “That What Speed Do,” which became nationally popular during the playoffs. In 2015, Dyson continued as a valued reserve outfielder, hitting .250 with 26 stolen bases. During the season, he became the all-time leader in pinch-running appearances with 78 in his career. His efforts helped the Kansas City Royals win their second-ever World Series championship in 2015. As of the end of 2015, Dyson is hitting .255 with the Kansas City Royals and has 146 career stolen bases. He has only been caught stealing 23 times in his career. He is currently playing with the Royals.
Tavish Whiting is an American Government teacher in Lee's Summit, MO
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