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 #30 to 16, have biographical and statistical information about their tenure in Kansas City.
RANK #30 – DICK DRAGO (#41) – Starting Pitcher (1969-1973)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 2,390.14
23rd Royals Player in Franchise History
Dick Drago was selected in the 1968 Expansion Draft from the Detroit Tigers organization. He made his major league debut with the Kansas City Royals on April 11, 1969 against the Oakland Athletics in long relief. On May 2 of that season, Drago was inserted into the starting rotation in the second game of a doubleheader against the California Angels. In the game, Drago became the first pitcher in Royals history to have a complete game in a 3-2 victory. On August 30, 1969, Drago had a complete game shutout at Yankee Stadium in a 2-0 victory. Over the next four seasons, Drago became one of the primary starters of the Kansas City Royals. In 1971, after posting a 2.71 ERA, Drago was fifth in the Cy Young Award voting. On May 24, 1972, Drago pitched a 12-inning, 13-strikeout victory over the Minnesota Twins. During his 1973 season, Drago would receive very little run support. He accused team manager Jack McKeon of giving up on him. So in late 1973, the unhappy Drago was traded to the Boston Red Sox for pitcher Marty Pattin. He posted a 3.52 ERA in his Royals career is is currently ninth all-time in innings pitched with 1,134. He also pitched 53 complete games with Kansas City.
RANK #29 – MIKE MACFARLANE (#15) – Catcher (1987-1988, 1996-1998)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 2,404.62
23rd Royals Player in Franchise History
Mike Macfarlane was drafted by the Royals in 1985 and made the majors in 1987. He was the opening day catcher in five seasons with the Royals. After 1988, he was the primary catcher for the Royals except for the 1989 season when we was backup to Gold Glove winning Bob Boone. Also in 1988, he became the first Royals rookie starting catcher for the Royals since Ellie Rodriguez did it in 1969. On August 4, 1990, Macfarlane hit his first grand slam against the Baltimore Orioles. On July 14, 1991, Macfarlane played his best game with the Royals in an 18-4 rout of the Detroit Tigers. Macfarlane went 4-6 with two home runs and five RBIs. In 1992, he led the team in home runs with 17, also hitting his second grand slam on July 11 against the Detroit Tigers. He had a lifetime .256 batting average with the Royals along with 103 home runs. Macfarlane also holds the Royals record for being hit by a pitch with 78. He ranks in the top ten of all-time catchers in American League history with a .993 fielding percentage. On May 31, 1994, Macfarlane hit a grand slam against the Boston Red Sox. After free agency, he signed with the Boston Red Sox for one season in 1995 before returning the the Royals for three more seasons. Macfarlane hit .269 between the years 1996 through 1997 with 27 home runs and 89 RBIs. He appeared in only three games for the Royals in 1998 before being traded to the Oakland Athletics for Shane Mack and a minor league player. Macfarlane hit .256 with the Kansas City Royals along with 103 home runs. Macfarlane is the all-time franchise leader for innings played as a catcher with 6,398.
RANK #28 – DANNY TARTABULL (#4) – Right Field (1987-1991)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 2,452.64
23rd Royals Player in Franchise History
Danny Tartabull was traded to the Kansas City Royals, along with Rick Luecken, by the Seattle Mariners for Scott Bankhead, Mike Kingery and Steve Shields. His father, Jose Tartabull, played for the old Kansas City Athletics from 1962 to 1966. He was one of the top rookies in the major leagues for the Mariners and his sophomore year with the Royals was even better. In 1987, he hit .309 with 101 RBIs. He hit 34 home runs, just two short of the all-time season record for the Royals. He hit a grand slam for the Royals on October 2, 1987 against the Minnesota Twins. Despite his batting average dropping slightly in 1988, Tartabull continued to hit well for the Royals with a career-high 102 RBIs and 26 home runs. He hit a total of three grand slams in 1988. His first was on May 5 against the Texas Rangers, the second on August 11 against the Baltimore Orioles and the third on September 20 against the Seattle Mariners. He finished 1988 eighth in the league in doubles and seventh in the league in RBIs. By 1989, Tartabull began suffering from injuries and he split time between right field and designated hitter. His offensive production began to drop and his strikeouts began to rise. He missed most of April of 1990 due to injuries and continued to be nagged by the throughout the season, dropping him to only 88 appearances. In 1991, Tartabull bounced back with the best year of his career. He hit .316 with 31 home runs and 102 RBIs. On July 6, 1991, Tartabull hit three home runs in one game against the Oakland Athletics. On August 14, 1991, Tartabull hit his fifth career grand slam against the New York Yankees, tying the Royals record for the most grand slams in a career. Although he played most of the season in right field, Tartabull represented the Kansas City Royals in the 1991 All-Star Game as a starting designated hitter. At the end of the season, Tartabull chose not to renew his contract with the Royals and signed with the New York Yankees, becoming the highest paid baseball player in the majors at $5,300,000. Tartabull is third all-time in innings played in right field with 4,456. He is seventh all-time in home runs with 124. He hit .290 while in Kansas City with 425 RBIs and 141 doubles.
RANK #27 – ERIC HOSMER (#35) – First Base (2011-2016)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 2,530.40
733rd Royals Player in Franchise History
Eric Hosmer was a first-round draft pick by the Kansas City Royals in 2008. He made his major league debut on May 6, 2011, replacing Kila Ka’aihue at first base. Hosmer did not disappoint when he arrived. He hit .293 with 19 home runs and 78 RBIs in his first season. Hosmer had four 4-RBI games in his first season as well as stealing 11 bases. Hosmer had a very rough sophomore season, with his offensive production dropping to a batting average of only .232. Hosmer did hit 14 home runs in the season along with 16 stolen bases. However, he had the best season of his career in 2013. He hit .302 for the season, ninth in the American League, along with 17 home runs and 11 stolen bases. At the end of the season, Hosmer won the Gold Glove Award as the top fielding first basemen in the American League. His offensive production fell slightly in 2014, but he was still one of the best fielding first basemen in major league baseball. He was second in the league in putouts, assists, and error committed for a first baseman. Hosmer probably would have led the league had it not been for a broken hand that placed him on the disabled list for nearly all of August. He was a part of the best defensive team in major league baseball and helped lead the Royals to their first playoff appearance in 29 years as well as winning his second Gold Glove Award. In the postseason, Hosmer’s bat came alive, hitting over .500 in his first three games and hitting a game-winning home run in the second game of the ALDS against the Angels. Hosmer ended the 2014 post-season as the Royals’ hottest hitter with a .351 batting average with two home runs and 12 RBIs. In 2015, Hosmer became one of the most offensively reliable players on the team. He hit .297 with 18 home runs and a career-high 93 RBIs. He helped the Royals to their second World Series berth in a row. He struggled offensively in the postseason with a .194 batting average, but was able to drive in 17 runs in 72 plate appearances. After the season, Hosmer won his third Gold Glove Award for first base. As of 2015, Hosmer is hitting .280 with 77 home runs with the Royals. He is second only to John Mayberry in innings played at first base with 6,261 1/3. He is still currently playing for the Royals.
RANK #26 – JOAKIM SORIA (#48) – Closing Pitcher (2007-2011, 2016)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 2,590.60
650th Royals Player in Franchise History
Joakim Soria was selected in the 2006 Rule 5 Draft in 2006 from the San Diego Padres. He made his major league debut on April 4, 2007. The Royals were without a clear closing pitcher in 2007, and the role rotated between Soria and Octavio Dotel. His rookie season was very impressive with a 2.48 ERA in 69 innings pitched and with 75 strikeouts. His 2008 season was the best of his career. He became the closer for the Royals, pitching in 63 games and was second in the major leagues with 42 saves. On July 15, 2008, Soria pitched for the Kansas City Royals in the All-Star Game. The game was a 15-inning marathon and Soria came into the game late, pitching 1 2/3 innings and striking out two. His success continued for the next two seasons, posting 73 saves over that time period along with a 1.97 ERA. By 2011, he earned the nickname “The Mexecutioner,” although he asked not to be called this because he found it insensitive to those being murdered throughout Mexico. Unfortunately, the 2011 season was not going well for Soria. His ERA rose to 4.03 and he posted only 28 saves. Worse, during Spring Training of 2012, Soria became injured and required Tommy John surgery. He would miss the entire 2012 season. At the end of 2012, he signed with the Texas Rangers. He would go on to pitch for Detroit and Pittsburgh before re-signing with the Royals as a free agent in 2016. He is currently a relief pitcher for Kansas City. Soria is third all-time in saves with 160, only behind Jeff Montgomery and Dan Quisenberry. As of 2015, his career ERA was 2.40 in 298 relief appearances. Soria is the most successful Rule 5 draftee in Royals history.
RANK #25 – AL FITZMORRIS (#39) – Starting Pitcher (1969-1976)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 2,570.45
39th Royals Player in Franchise History
Al Fitzmorris was selected in the 1968 Expansion Draft from the Chicago White Sox. He remained with the Royals organization for eight years and had a career 3.48 ERA, a 70-48 record and is ranked 11th all-time in innings pitched with 1,098 innings. While only playing in seven games in 1969, Fitzmorris was called up full time in 1970 as a long relief pitcher who occasionally started games. Between 1970 and 1972, Fitzmorris posted a modest 4.14 ERA. In 1973, Fitzmorris was demoted to AAA Omaha to work on his delivery. He was brought back the the majors on July 17, 1973 and made great contributions. His 1973 ERA dropped to a career low 2.83 and posted an 8-3 record. In 1974, he continued this success with 2.79 ERA and a 13-6 record, despite his lack of strikeouts. On June 4, 1974, he became the first pitcher in baseball history to have a complete game shutout without any walks or strikeouts. His career year came in 1975 when Fitzmorris won a career high 16 games. On May 27, 1975, Fitzmorris pitched a complete game shutout of the Yankees with three strikeouts and giving up only three hits. After the 1976 season, Fitzmorris became one of the few players in major league history to be drafted in two different expansion drafts. He was selected in the second round to the newly created Toronto Blue Jays.
RANK #24 – GREG HOLLAND (#56) – Closing Pitcher (2010-2015)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 2,596.35
39th Royals Player in Franchise History
Greg Holland was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 2007. He made his major league debut on August 2, 2010. In 2010, Holland only pitched 15 games with a very high 6.75 ERA. He was brought back in mid-May of 2011 as a set up pitcher to closer Joakim Soria. He had 18 holds on the season. He continued his setup duties in 2012 to a new closer, Jonathan Broxton, until he was traded in August. Holland then took over the closing duties. He earned 16 saves in 2012 with an ERA of 2.96. After a slow start for Holland in 2013, Holland suddenly was on fire. He was named Pitcher-of-the-Month in July for scoring 11 saves with a 0.82 ERA. Holland was named to the All-Star team and recorded the first hold by a Royals pitcher in a midsummer classic. Holland had a 1.21 season ERA and was second in the league in saves next to Jim Johnson of the Baltimore Orioles. He was the 2013 TSN Relief Pitcher-of-the-Year for the American League. On September 26, 2013, Holland broke the Royals’ save record previous held by Dan Quisenberry and Jeff Montgomery of 37 saves. His 2014 season was just as dominating as the previous. He earned 46 saves out of 48 save opportunities. His 1.44 ERA was one of the best in the American League for a closing pitcher. Holland was the first-ever winner of the Mariano Rivera Award for the best relief pitcher in the American League. He helped lead the Royals to their first playoff appearance in 29 years and became the first relief pitcher to earn a save in the post-season since Dan Quisenberry. In the 2014 post-season, Holland was brilliant. He had a 0.82 ERA with seven saves in 11 appearances. In 2015, Holland began the season with seven saves and a 0.90 ERA in his first month. However, a nagging elbow injury hurt his pitching performance and his ERA shot up to a 4.67 after May 15. By mid-September, it was clear that Holland was unable to finish the season and he immediately had Tommy John surgery. Holland did not get to pitch in the playoffs for the Royals that led them to a World Championship. He was released from the team after the season. He is fourth all-time in team saves with 145.
RANK #23 – CHARLIE LEIBRANDT (#37) – Starting Pitcher (1984-1989)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 2,659.98
210th Royals Player in Franchise History
Charlie Leibrandt had been sent back to the minor leagues by the Cincinnati Reds and spent the entire 1983 season in the minors. In June of 1983, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals for Bob Tufts. When he arrived at AAA Omaha, he dominated the pitching staff and earned his way back to the major leagues in 1984. He joined a very young pitching staff with rookie pitchers Mark Gubicza and Bret Saberhagen, lefty Bud Black and the sole veteran Larry Gura. In his first three starts, Leibrandt pitched no less than eight innings each game with two runs or less. He posted an 11-7 record with an ERA of 3.63. Leibrandt started game three of the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers in 1984, a complete game loss of 1-0 that ended the series. In 1985, he dominated as a starter. He was one of the top five pitchers in the American League and April’s Pitcher-of-the-Month. His 2.69 ERA was the second lowest of any starter in the league. He was also one of the best fielding pitchers in the American League, leading the league in fielding assists for pitchers. He started two games in the 1985 World Series with a 0-1 record and a 2.76 ERA. He earned the nickname “Rembrandt” for his finesse masterpieces. He was a solid starter for the Royals over the next four years. On May 17, 1987, Leibrandt nearly had a no-hitter until Milwaukee’s Bill Schroeder hit a bunt single. He had six strikeouts in the 13-0 victory over the Brewers. In 1989, Leibrandt was traded, along with Rick Luecken, to the Atlanta Braves for Gerald Perry and a minor league player. Leibrandt had a career 3.60 ERA with the Royals and a 76-61 record. He is seventh all-time in innings pitched for the Royals with 1,257. He pitched 34 complete games with 10 shutouts in his career.
RANK #22 – JOHNNY DAMON (#18) – Center Field (1995-2000)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 2,811.44
385th Royals Player in Franchise History
Johnny Damon was a first-round draft choice in 1992 by the Kansas City Royals. He made his major league debut on August 12, 1995. He was touted as the next George Brett before the season began in 1996. Damon was the opening day center fielder for the Royals. He showed power and speed. He hit .271 in his rookie year with six home runs and 25 stolen bases. On August 10, 1996, Damon hit his first grand slam against the California Angels. He also tied a Royals record with seven RBIs in a single game. He made slight improvements in 1997 with eight home runs and a .275 batting average. Damon was an everyday player for the Royals, but he began splitting up his time in all three outfield positions throughout the season. In 1998, Damon began to shine in the American League. He hit 18 home runs with 26 stolen bases and a .277 batting average. He hit his second grand slam on May 14, 1998 against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He was second in the league with 10 triples in the season. Damon was improving every year. In 1999, Damon moved primarily to left field to make room for Carlos Beltran in center field and Jermaine Dye in right field. He had 14 home runs and the starting outfield combined to have 304 RBIs. His .307 batting average was the best of his career so far. He was having better control at the plate with 67 walks and only 50 strikeouts. In 2000, Damon led the league with 46 stolen bases. He topped his previous season’s batting average by hitting .327. He led the league with 136 runs scored and was third in the league with 10 triples. On September 15, 2000, Damon hit his third grand slam against the Texas Rangers. In 2001, the Royals made a very unpopular move by trading Damon, along with Mark Ellis, to the Oakland athletics in a 3-team deal that sent Roberto Hernandez, Angel Berroa and A.J. Hinch to the Royals from Oakland. Damon is sixth all-time in innings played in center field with 3,276 2/3 and seventh all-time in left field with 2,073 innings. Damon hit .292 in his career with the Royals with 65 home runs and 156 stolen bases. He also played over 1,000 innings in right field.
RANK #21 – DAVID DEJESUS (#9) – Center Field (2003-2010)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 2,894.42
560th Royals Player in Franchise History
David DeJesus was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 2000. He made his major league debut on September 2, 2003. In 2004, Carlos Beltran was traded and Juan Gonzalez became injured. This was the opportunity for DeJesus to become the everyday center fielder for the Royals. He hit a respectable .287 with seven home runs and 39 RBIs. In 2006, he began splitting time evenly between center field and left field to make room for the speedy Joey Gathright. The 2007 season was a down-season for DeJesus, batting only .260 with eight home runs. He did, however, lead the American League in being hit by a pitch 23 times. In 2008, DeJesus had his best season. He hit 12 home runs with seven triples, 11 stolen bases and a batting average of .307. On June 15, 2008, DeJesus hit his first career grand slam against the Arizona Diamondbacks. After hitting the grand slam, the radio announcer said, “He smashed the living DeJesus out of that ball!” He had the best game of his career, however, on June 18, 2009 when he went 3-5 with four RBIs and missed hitting for the cycle by not hitting a home run. In 2010, DeJesus played the season under the threat of being traded like his other starting outfielders. However, he injured his thumb in July and had to have season-ending surgery. He was not re-signed after the season and DeJesus signed with the Oakland Athletics. DeJesus is fifth all-time in innings played for the Royals in left field and center field with 2,273 2/3 innings and 4,276 2/3 innings, respectively. He was a career .289 hitter with the Royals with 61 home runs, three of which were inside-the-park, and 390 RBIs.
RANK #20 – JOE RANDA (#16) – Third Base (1995-1996, 1999-2004)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 3,091.99
369th Royals Player in Franchise History
Joe Randa was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 1991. He had his major league debut on April 30, 1995. Randa had only 34 appearances in his first major league season, bouncing back and forth from Kansas City and AAA Omaha. In 1995, he was given a chance to replace Gary Gaetti at third base. He had an outstanding rookie season with a .303 batting average and six home runs. He earned the nickname “The Joker” because of his continuous smile during games. At the end of the season, it was decided by the Royals to trade Randa, along with three other players, to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Jay Bell and Jeff King. Randa would play all of 1997 with the Pirates. Then, he was selected in the 1997 Expansion Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Soon after, he was traded to the Detroit Tigers for the 1998 season. In December of 1998, he was traded to the New York Mets. Six days later, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals for a minor league player. Randa’s 1999 season was the best of his career. Hit hit .314 with 16 home runs and 84 RBIs. He was fifth in the major leagues in triples with eight and sixth in hits with 197. He was one of the top fielding third baseman in the American League. In 2001, he hit 13 home runs, including a grand slam on May 16, 2001 against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. His last three seasons with the Royals were very consistent, batting .286 over that time. In 2003, he had the best fielding percentage of any third baseman in the American League. He was granted free agency in late 2004 and Randa signed with the Cincinnati Reds. Randa is eighth all-time in hits with the Royals with 1,084 and tenth in games played with 1,019. Randa is second only to George Brett in innings played at third base with 7,953 2/3. Randa is one of the best third basemen in Royals history.
RANK #19 – JOHN MAYBERRY (#7) – First Base (1972-1977)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 3,140.62
63rd Royals Player in Franchise History
John Mayberry was traded by the Houston Astros to the Kansas City Royals for Jim York and Lance Clemons in 1971. The left-handed Mayberry made a major impact on the Royals in his first season, hitting 25 home runs and being second in the league with 100 RBIs. After just hitting .191 for Houston, Mayberry found a home in Kansas City. He was referred to as “Big John.” On September 20, 1972, Mayberry hit his only Royals-career grand slam against the California Angels. He led the American League in innings played by a first baseman, putouts and double plays. His fielding percentage was also the best in the American League for a first baseman. Mayberry also showed great control at the plate, having drawn 78 walks to 74 strikeouts. He would have more walks than strikeouts for five of his six seasons with the Royals. He lead the league in walks drawn with 122 in 1973. He hit 26 home runs and was voted the starting first baseman in the All-Star Game, opposite of Hank Aaron on the National League team. He became the first Royals player to play a complete game in an All-Star game. His 1974 season was a struggle, hitting only .234 with 22 home runs. Mayberry began sharing the first base duties with Tony Solaita. But in 1975, Mayberry came roaring back with the best season of his career. He set the team record of 34 home runs that would stand until 1985 when it was broken by Steve Balboni. He hit a league leading 119 RBIs. His batting average was .291 and he had the best on-base percentage of anyone in the league with .417. In the month of July alone, Mayberry hit 12 home runs and had a .365 batting average. He was named the American League Player-of-the-Month. On July 1, 1975, Mayberry hit three solo home runs against future Hall-of-Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins of the Texas Rangers. He came in second to Boston Red Sox player Fred Lynn for the American League MVP. After the 1975 season, Mayberry struggled again. His batting average dropped to .231 over the next two seasons. He only hit 36 home runs over those two seasons while the Royals were enjoying the greatest success yet. Rumors began to fly that Mayberry was having personal issues. Mayberry arrived late to Game Four of the ALCS against the New York Yankees hungover from an outing the night before. He was pulled midway through the game and benched during the decisive Game Five. The Royals were interested in moving Clint Hurdle into the first base role, so in April of 1978, the Royals sold Mayberry’s contract to the Toronto Blue Jays. John Mayberry ended his career playing more innings at first base than any other Royals player in history with 7,260 1/3 innings. He is sixth all-time in home runs with 143, despite only playing six seasons with the Royals. Mayberry walked 561 times compared to only 457 strikeouts. He is considered one of the greatest power hitters in Royals history. In 1996, Mayberry was inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame.
RANK #18 – FREDDIE PATEK (#2) – Shortstop (1971-1979)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 3,169.65
52nd Royals Player in Franchise History
In 1970, Freddie Patek was traded to the Kansas City Royals, along with Bruce Dal Canton and Jerry May, by the Pittsburgh Pirates for Bob Johnson, Jackie Hernandez and Jim Campanis. Patek was known as “The Flea” because he was the smallest major league baseball player of his time at 5’4” and 148lbs. His first season with the Royals was the best of his career, hitting .267 and leading the major leagues with 11 triples. He had 49 stolen bases and six home runs as well. On July 9, 1971, Patek became the first player in Royals history to hit for the cycle, all hits being off of Jim Perry of the Minnesota Twins. In 1972, his offensive production dropped off, but not his base-stealing. He was third in the league in the category. Patek let the league in assists as a shortstop and would continue to be one of the best defensive shortstops of the American League throughout the 1970s. In 1976, Patek started the season on fire, hitting .331 by the end of May. His bat as well as his glove helped him earn an All-Star Game berth in 1976. He helped the Royals clinch their first-ever playoff berth against the New York Yankees. Patek and teammate Cookie Rojas famously jumped into the outfield fountains to celebrate the moment. In 1977, he led the American League with 53 stolen bases and improved his batting average to .262. He was picked for his second All-Star Game as a Royals player as well as helping lead the Royals to their second ALCS. During the 1977 playoffs, Patek hit .389 with two doubles, a triple and five RBIs. In his last two seasons with the Royals, age began to take its toll and his defensive prowess began to wane. A young U L Washington began to see more time at the shortstop position and Patek was granted free agency at the conclusion of the 1979 season. He would sign with the California Angels and play for two more seasons before retiring. Royals manager Whitey Herzog once said that Patek was the greatest shortstop in baseball on artificial turf, even more so than Ozzie Smith. Patek was known as a quiet, deeply religious player in the locker room. Patek was the only player allowed to miss morning batting practice on Sundays so that may attend church. Patek played 1,245 games with the Kansas City Royals and had a career .241 batting average. Patek is third all-time in stolen bases with 336 while in Kansas City. He played 10,490 innings at shortstop, more than any other Royals player in history. For eight straight years, Patek had 30 or more stolen bases and led the league in double plays turned. His range factor at shortstop was one of the best of any shortstop of his era. In 1992, Freddie Patek was inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame.
RANK #17 – CARLOS BELTRAN (#15) – Center Field (1998-2004)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 3,170.85
451st Royals Player in Franchise History
Carlos Beltran was selected in the second round of the 1995 draft. Be made his major league debut on September 14, 1998. In 1999, Beltran was selected as the leadoff center fielder on opening day against the Boston Red Sox. He hit .293 in his rookie season with 194 hits, 22 home runs and 108 RBIs. Between May 14 and May 16, 1999 against the Seattle Mariners, Beltran went 7-14 with six RBIs and one home run. He led the American league with 150 complete games in center field. At the end of the 1999 season, Beltran was selected as the American League Rookie-of-the-Year. In 2000, Beltran became injured and only played in 98 games. He lost his center field position to Johnny Damon. The one bright spot in the season came on June 29, when Beltran became the fourth player to hit two home runs in a single game from both sides of the plate against Cleveland. In 2001, Damon was traded and Beltran became the everyday center fielder once again. He hit .306 for the season with 24 home runs and 101 RBIs. Beltran hit two of his four career grand slams in 2001. His first was on August 22 against the Chicago White Sox and the second was against the Detroit Tigers on October 7. In the August 22 game, Beltran earned six RBIs. In 2002, Beltran appeared in every game for the Royals with a career high 29 home runs and 105 RBIs. He hit two more grand slams in 2002 making him second all-time for grand slams as a Royals player next to Danny Tartabull. On September 6, Beltran hit two home runs from both sides of the plate for the second time in his career against Seattle, becoming the only player in franchise history to accomplish the feat twice. His offensive abilities did not let up in 2003 when he hit .307 with 26 home runs, 100 RBIs and 41 stolen bases. Despite three straight seasons with over 100 RBIs and more than 30 stolen bases, Beltran was never picked to the All-Star team. But he was finally selected as a starter in 2004 to the American League team. However, just before the All-Star Game, Beltran was traded in a complex three-team deal. Mike Wood was sent to the Kansas City Royals, along with Mark Teahen, from the Oakland Athletics. Kansas City sent Carlos Beltran to the Houston Astros, Houston sent Octavio Dotel to Oakland, and Houston sent John Buck to Kansas City with cash. Beltran was denied the opportunity to play for the American League in the All-Star game, however, when National League starter Ken Griffey, Jr. went on the DL, Beltran was his replacement. He became the only major league player selected to play on one league’s All-Star team and actually play for the other. Beltran was a career .300 hitter for the Royals with 123 home runs, 516 RBIs, 45 triples and 164 stolen bases. He became one of the greatest center fielders in Royals history and his 6,545 1/3 innings there makes him third all-time in franchise history. Beltran is currently playing for the New York Yankees.
RANK #16 – BILLY BUTLER (#16) – Designated Hitter (2007-2014)
PERFORMANCE INDEX: 3,577.88
655th Royals Player in Franchise History
Billy Butler was a first-round draft choice by the Kansas City Royals in 2004. He made his major league debut with the Royals on May 1, 2007. In his first season, Butler primarily was a designated hitter with a few starts at first base. He hit .292 in 92 appearances with eight home runs and 52 RBIs. In 2008, Butler split time with Ross Gload at first base, but again played the majority of his season as a designated hitter. He improved to 11 home runs and a .275 batting average. In 2009, Butler was made the everyday first baseman for the Royals. He had trouble at the position, leading the league in errors with 10 on the season. However, Butler was known for hitting doubles and hit 51 on the season, nearly toppling Hal McRae’s record of 54 in a season. Butler hit .301 with 21 home runs and 93 RBIs. He spent most of 2010 at first base again and his batting average soared to .318. He was forced to play first base again in 2011 when Kila Ka’aihue did not work out. In 2011, Butler won the Hutch Award for fighting spirit and competitive desire. He also earned the nickname “Country Breakfast” by the fans. The 2012 season was the best of his career. He hit .313 with 29 home runs and a trip to the All-Star Game. He also had a career high 107 RBIs. In 2013, Butler played in every game of the season. He hit .289 on the season with 15 home runs and 82 RBIs. Butler also won the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award for 2012. On April 7, 2013, Butler hit his first grand slam against the Philadelphia Phillies. Unfortunately, Butler began the 2014 on a slow start, hitting only .226 by mid-May and did not have his first home run until July 10. When first baseman Eric Hosmer went on the disabled list, Butler started at first base for the first time in two years and his offensive numbers greatly improved. Butler helped lead the Royals to their first playoff appearance in 29 years. He shined in the post-season, hitting .263 and driving in eight runs. Butler is second all-time in plate appearances as a designated hitter with 3,069. He is also eighth all-time for innings played at first base with 3,317. At the end of the 2014 season, the Royals did not renew his contract and Butler signed with the Oakland Athletics, where he still is to this day. He had a .295 batting average with 127 home runs and 628 RBIs while in Kansas City.
Tavish Whiting is an American Government teacher in Lee's Summit, MO
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