Category Archives: Royals Jerseys 2019

Cookie Rojas Jersey

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Signing off his live broadcast, Los Angeles Angels broadcaster Victor Rojas receives a phone call. A fresh order of prints — featuring Hank Aaron’s “755” — have just shipped.

The Overland Park native’s apparel startup, Big Fly Gear, has been growing steadily since its launch in February, Rojas said. The clothing line, fittingly, celebrates historical milestones in baseball. The company name: a callback to Rojas’ own career with the sport, he said.

“‘Big Fly’ has been my home run call for years,” Rojas said, describing the catchphrase that’s developed over 17 years in Major League Baseball games.

Rojas’ ties to baseball go even deeper, however. The announcer-turned-entrepreneur is the son of Kansas City Royals Hall of Famer Cookie Rojas, who served as the team’s second baseman and later manager.

The resurgence of baseball in Rojas’ hometown — and with his father’s former team — make a great fit for Big Fly, he said.

“The KC sports feel helps us tremendously, here in the Midwest,” said Rojas, who noted the majority of sales so far have been centered around Big Fly’s homebase in Dallas, as well as cities west of the Mississippi.

Focused on graphics, Big Fly’s brand tells a story, Rojas emphasized.

“If you like baseball, you will like the look and the vintage feel,” he said, acknowledging his early decision to avoid Angels-related merchandise in favor of highlighting milestones from different generations of baseball history — like Hank Aaron’s 755 career home runs.

“Right now, we are going back in time,” Rojas continued, describing Big Fly’s first at bat. “There are a thousand ideas out there and a million stories for us to tell.”

Some of those tales might well come from Kansas City’s rich history with the sport, he said.

Kansas City baseball goes back further than the Royals and the Athletics, the latter of which left the city after the 1967 season. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is headquartered in KC, showcasing stories that led to the integration of baseball with opportunities for players of all races.

Working with the museum’s president, Bob Kendrick, Big Fly’s apparel could feature graphics tied of the era of Buck O’Neil, Jackie Robinson and Satchel Paige, Rojas said.

View this post on Instagram
Thank you to Victor Rojas and all my friends @bigflygear.

A post shared by Albert Pujols (@albertpujols) on May 10, 2019 at 8:49am PDT

Uniting with a timeless sport

A fan-designed logo gives Big Fly a classic look while still remaining trendy, he explained.

And while not everyone knows what “Big Fly” means right off the bat, photos of his family wearing the apparel help communicate the message of America’s pastime online and on various social media platforms, Rojas said.

Click here to check out Big Fly Gear’s selection.

One momentous shout-out came May 10 on Instagram, he added, from none other than Angels first baseman and designated hitter Albert Pujols — formerly of the St. Louis Cardinals — who that night homered for his 2,000th career RBI. (The Angels ultimately won 13-0 over the Detroit Tigers in the May 9 matchup.)

Pleased by Big Fly’s revenue so far, Rojas said there’s more to the brand’s story to come.

“In our Big Fly Brigade, we will give back,” he said.

The startup is planning donations each month to veterans groups, he said, ultimately aiming to pay for a military family to go to every Fourth of July baseball game at MLB ballparks.

“It’s not just about us making money,” he said.

Bret Saberhagen Jersey

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1985 — The Kansas City Royals, behind Bret Saberhagen’s five-hitter, beat the St. Louis Cardinals 11-0 in Game 7 of the World Series. The Royals became the sixth team in major league history to rally from a three-games-to-one deficit to win the World Series.

1986 — The New York Mets won the World Series with an 8-5 victory over the Boston Red Sox in Game 7. The Mets rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win behind home runs by Ray Knight and Darryl Strawberry. Knight is named Series MVP.

1989 — The World Series resumed after a 10-day delay because of the San Francisco earthquake. Oakland, behind two homers by Dave Henderson, beat the Giants 13-7 in Game 3.

1991 — Pinch-hitter Gene Larkin hit a game-winning single with the bases loaded in the 10th inning as the Minnesota Twins beat the Atlanta Braves 1-0 to win one of the most exciting World Series in history. Series MVP Jack Morris pitched a seven-hitter over 10 innings and won only the third decisive seventh game in World Series history to go into extra innings.

1996 — After two humbling losses at home, the New York Yankees won their first World Series title since 1978 with a 3-2 victory over the defending champion Atlanta Braves in Game 6.

1999 — Roger Clemens pitched the New York Yankees to their second straight World Series sweep, shutting down the Atlanta Braves 4-1. The Yankees won their record 25th championship — third in four years.

2001 — The Arizona Diamondbacks pounded the New York Yankees 9-1 in the World Series opener. The score was set at 9-1 in the fourth inning. Arizona’s Craig Counsell and Luis Gonzalez homered off Yankees pitcher Mike Mussin. Curt Schilling held the Yankees to three hits, including Bernie Williams’ bloop RBI double in the first, over seven innings and struck out eight.

2002 — The Anaheim Angels won the World Series with a 4-1 win over the Giants in Game 7 at San Francisco’s Edison Field. Garret Anderson’s three-run double in the third inning put the Angels up 4-1. John Lackey became the first rookie to win a seventh game since 1909 when Babe Adams did it for the Pirates.

2004 — The Boston Red Sox became World Series champions at long, long last. Johnny Damon homered on the fourth pitch of the game, Derek Lowe made it stand up and the Red Sox won Game 4 3-0, sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals for their first crown since 1918. Manny Ramirez, who batted .412 (7-for-17) with a homer and four RBIs, was named Boston’s first World Series MVP.

2006 — The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Detroit Tigers 4-2 in Game 5 to wrap up their first Series title in nearly a quarter-century and 10th overall.

2010 — Freddy Sanchez and the San Francisco Giants chased Cliff Lee early, roughing up the postseason ace for an 11-7 victory over the Texas Rangers in the World Series opener. Sanchez doubled three times in the first five innings and finished with three RBIs.

2011 — David Freese homered to lead off the bottom of the 11th inning, and the St. Louis Cardinals forced the World Series to a Game 7 by rallying from two-run deficits against the Texas Rangers in the 9th and 10th.

2013 — Another wacky end to a World Series game as Game 4 finished with a pickoff play, a first in postseason history. Jonny Gomes hit a decisive, three-run homer as the Boston Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2 to tie the series at two games apiece. Koji Uehara picked off rookie pinch-runner Kolten Wong at first base for the final out — with postseason star Carlos Beltran standing at the plate.

2015 — Alex Gordon hit a tying home run with one out in the ninth inning, Eric Hosmer hit a sacrifice fly against Bartolo Colon in the 14th and the Kansas City Royals beat the New York Mets 5-4 in the longest opener in World Series history.

2018 — Steve Pearce hit a tying homer in the eighth inning and a three-run double in the ninth, and the Boston Red Sox rallied from a four-run deficit for a 9-6 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers and a 3-1 World Series lead.

Today’s birthdays: Francisco Mejia 24; Carlos Perez 29; Jay Jackson 32; Martin Prado 35.

Willie Wilson Jersey

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Kansas City Royals left fielder, former Nebraska baseball star and Lincoln Southeast grad Alex Gordon won his 3rd straight and 7th career Gold Glove award Sunday night.

GOLDEN – Kansas City Royals OF, former #Huskers star and @LSEAthletics grad Alex Gordon wins his 3rd straight and 7… https://t.co/WoK7x8H90z
Courtesy: Royals Media Relations

KANSAS CITY, MO (November 3, 2019) – Rawlings Sporting Goods Company, Inc., and ESPN announced tonight that Royals left fielder Alex Gordon has earned his seventh career Rawlings Gold Glove Award, receiving the award for the third time in as many seasons. Gordon was also honored as the top left fielder in the American League by Rawlings from 2011-14 and 2017-18. Dating back to 2011, Kansas City has won a Major League-best 17 Rawlings Gold Glove Awards and are the only American League team with at least one winner in each of the last nine seasons (since 2011), trailing only Colorado’s streak of 10 straight seasons among Major League teams.

The awards were voted on by managers and coaches from the American and National Leagues, and honor the best individual fielding performances at each position in both leagues.

Kansas City now has 35 Rawlings Gold Gloves by 13 different players in its 51-year history. Gordon’s seven awards are second most in franchise history, trailing Frank White’s eight (1977-82, ’86-87).

Gordon, who was named the Rawlings Platinum Glove winner in 2014, has 98 outfield assists since 2010, tied with Gerardo Parra for most in the Majors during that time. His seven outfield assists – including three in his first 17 games – tied for third-most among Major League left fielders in 2019, two shy of Lourdes Gurriel Jr. for the lead. He was charged with just one error in 276 chances in left field, the fewest errors by a left fielder with as many chances since his 2013 campaign, when he committed just one error in 341 chances. Gordon’s only error came on May 18 at Angel Stadium, and he ended the season with 105 straight games (104 starts) and 214 total chances without an error. Since moving to the outfield in 2010, only one other outfielder has more total chances that Gordon (2,788) and fewer errors (18): Nick Markakis (14 E in 2,918 TC).

Gordon’s seven Rawlings Gold Gloves are second most among outfielders active in 2019, trailing Ichiro Suzuki’s 10. Gordon was one of three finalists among American League left fielders, beating out Boston’s Andrew Benintendi and Oakland’s Robbie Grossman.

Voting for the Rawlings Platinum Gold Glove Award presented by SABR began at the conclusion of the awards show at www.rawlings.com, allowing the public to weigh in as to who is “The Finest in the Field ®” in both the American League and National League. A combination of the international fan vote and the SABR Defensive Index will determine who takes home the honor of each League’s top defensive player. The Rawlings Platinum Glove Award winners will be unveiled during the 2019 Rawlings Gold Glove Award Ceremony presented by Gold Sport Collectibles on Friday, November 8.

Below is a list of Kansas City’s 35 Rawlings Gold Glove Award winners by 13 different players:

1971 – Amos Otis (OF)

1973 – Amos Otis (OF)

1974 – Amos Otis (OF)

1977 – Al Cowens (OF), Frank White (2B)

1978 – Frank White (2B)

1979 – Frank White (2B)

1980 – Frank White (2B), Willie Wilson (OF)

1981 – Frank White (2B)

1982 – Frank White (2B)

1985 – George Brett (3B)

1986 – Frank White (2B)

1987 – Frank White (2B)

1989 – Bob Boone (C), Bret Saberhagen (P)

2000 – Jermaine Dye (OF)

2006 – Mark Grudzielanek (2B)

2011 – Alex Gordon (LF)

2012 – Alex Gordon (LF)

2013 – Alex Gordon (LF), Eric Hosmer (1B), Salvador Perez (C)

2014 – Alex Gordon (LF), Eric Hosmer (1B), Salvador Perez (C)

2015 – Alcides Escobar (SS), Eric Hosmer (1B), Salvador Perez (C)

2016 – Salvador Perez (C)

2017 – Alex Gordon (LF), Eric Hosmer (1B)

2018 – Alex Gordon (LF), Salvador Perez (C)

2019 – Alex Gordon (LF)

Each manager and up to six coaches on his staff vote from a pool of qualified players in their League and cannot vote for players on their own team. In 2013, Rawlings added a sabermetric component to the Rawlings Gold Glove Award selection process, as part of its new collaboration with the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). The SABR Defensive Index comprises approximately 25 percent of the overall selection total, while the managers’ and coaches’ vote continues to carry the majority.

Heath Fillmyer Jersey

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The Royals have activated shortstop Adalberto Mondesi, catcher Cam Gallagher, and pitcher Danny Duffy from the injured list as Major League rosters are allowed to expand to include anyone on the 40-man roster. The Royals have also recalled pitcher Heath Fillmyer.

Mondesi went on the Injured List back on July 17 with a left shoulder subluxation after diving for a foul ball. He spent ten days on rehab assignment with Omaha, smacking a home run in his last game on Friday.

Mondesi exits stage right with a 2-run BLAST to up our lead to 4-0 in the 5th! (and yeah, we think he knew)

Mondesi will be limited in his activities. He can play the field, but is under orders not to dive for any balls or slide head-first into bases. Mondesi is in his first full season in the big leagues and is hitting .266/.294/.433 with seven home runs, 31 steals and a league-high nine triples.

Danny Duffy suffered a hamstring injury while jogging on the field before a game back on August 5. He rejoined the club this week after making a rehab start last weekend with Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Duffy has a 4.93 ERA in 18 starts this year with 90 strikeouts and 36 walks in 100 1/3 innings, after missing the first month of the season with a shoulder injury. Duffy will start Sunday afternoon against the Royals. The Royals have talked about ending the year with a six-man rotation, with Jakob Junis, Glenn Sparkman, Mike Montgomery, Jorge Lopez, and Eric Skoglund getting starts this week. Brad Keller has been shut down for the year to limit his innings.

Cam Gallagher went on the Injured List back on August 8 with an oblique injury. He was hitting .238/.312/.365 with three home runs in 45 games. All three catchers on the Royals’ roster – Gallagher, Nick Dini, and Meibrys Viloria – are rookies.

Heath Fillmyer returns after posting a 5.11 ERA with 51 strikeouts in 49 1/3 innings for Triple-A Omaha. He had been pitching much better out of the bullpen after returning from a shoulder injury, giving up just six runs over his last 17 innings. The 25-year old right-hander gave up 15 runs in 15 innings in a stint with the Royals back in April.

Newly acquired first baseman Ryan McBroom is also expected to be added to the Major League roster, and more callups could happen after minor league seasons end on Monday. Dayton Moore told Bob Fescoe on 610 Sports that he expected some pitchers on the 40-man roster to be promoted, but no surprises, so that likely means Kansas City fans won’t see top pitching prospects Jackson Kowar or Brady Singer get a cup of coffee in September.

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Ahead of Kansas City Royals free agency, let’s take a look at the Colorado Rockies’ upcoming free agents and decide whether the team should pursue any.
Welcome to the continuation of our “Kansas City Royals: Making the case” series for free agency. After qualifying for a playoff spot in back-to-back seasons, the Colorado Rockies came back down to earth in 2019. Winning just 71 games, it was a humbling season for manager Bud Black and company. Luckily for them, they won’t have too many questions to answer in regards to who to retain or let go this winter.

Per Spotrac’s official list, there are just four pieces within the Rockies organization that are set to hit the open market within the next couple of weeks. Are any of the names worth taking a flyer on? Let’s find out.

Chris Rusin, P

Rusin pitched a total of one (1) major league inning in 2019. He gave up four runs. A 6.58 ERA in Triple-A is a cause for concern. Rusin tossed 54.2 innings in 2018 but was far below replacement level. At 33, he offers no upside.

Verdict: Pass

D.J. Johnson, P

Johnson is 30 years old, yet has appeared at the MLB level in just the last two seasons. After picking up his lone career win in 6.2 innings with Colorado a year ago, the right-handed reliever saw his ERA jump to 5.04 this past season. He wouldn’t be the worst option available on the market but if Dayton Moore can refrain from making Johnson a Royal, no one would object.

Verdict: Pass

Drew Butera, C

Many fans will remember Butera for his work with the Royals from 2015-2018. A stellar defensive backup for Salvador Perez, Butera was a part of the 2015 World Series team. Aside from 2016, he’s never been even remotely close to an average hitter and at 36 years old, his defense could soon lose a ton of value. A Butera signing would make for a great rush of memories and a couple of hair flips, but that’s it.

Alonso had a terrible 2019. Posting a .199/.296/.346 line and seeing his home run total decrease by more than 50 percent from the year before, Alonso’s play has worsened since he made the All-Star team in 2017. He could be a candidate for a bounceback season in 2020 but the last thing the Royals need is an inconsistent first baseman.

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The postseason brings the biggest moments, the biggest heroes, and sometimes, the biggest controversies.

When there is disagreement about a key call, the higher stakes can raise tensions and create a play that sticks in the minds of players and fans for years to come. Here is a look back at some of the most notable disputed calls from the postseason.

2019 World Series Game 6: Trea Turner called out
Protecting a one-run lead in the seventh inning, the Nationals, trying to force a Game 7, were looking for insurance runs when Turner followed Yan Gomes’ leadoff single with a swinging bunt that dribbled to the left of the mound. Pitcher Brad Peacock whipped a throw to first baseman Yuli Gurriel, who had to reach toward the baseline and had his glove knocked off by Turner as he lunged for the base. Turner was called out for interfering with the fielder, which led to a lengthy discussion and a fierce argument from Nats manager Dave Martinez, who became the first manager to be ejected from a World Series since Atlanta’s Bobby Cox in Game 6 in 1996. Washington got the last laugh, however, as Anthony Rendon hit a two-run homer later in the inning, as the Nationals won, 7-2. They would go on to win the series in seven games, becoming the first champion to win four road games in the World Series.

2018 American League Championship Series Game 4: Mookie Betts’ homer-robbing catch
The Red Sox took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, but it looked like the Astros might tie it in the bottom of the frame when José Altuve lifted a deep fly ball to right field at Minute Maid Park. Betts drifted back to the wall, jumped and had the ball deflect off his glove and back onto the field of play. But the ump ruled that a fan had interfered with Betts, preventing him from making the catch. Altuve was called out, a potential big inning for Houston turned into zero runs and Boston went on to win, 8-6, on the way to a championship.

Betts on fan interference call
Betts on fan interference call
02:52
Oct. 17th, 2018
2015 National League Division Series Game 2: Chase Utley’s slide
Utley was never popular with Mets fans from his days with the Phillies, but he sealed his enemy status in the seventh inning at Dodger Stadium. The Mets held a one-run lead with one out in the seventh, when the Dodgers put runners on the corners with one out. Howie Kendrick hit a potential double play ball up the middle, but Utley wiped out shortstop Rubén Tejada at second with a hard slide that allowed the tying run to score in what would become a four-run inning. Tejada sustained a broken leg and the Mets were furious over the lack of an interference call for what they saw as a dirty play. The Mets lost the game, 5-2, but they came back to win the series in the decisive fifth game.

Must C: Tejada injured on slide
Must C: Tejada injured on slide
02:47
Oct. 10th, 2015
2013 World Series: The Will Middlebrooks obstruction play
The Cardinals and Red Sox had split the first two games, and Game 3 was tied entering the bottom of the ninth, when St. Louis placed runners on second and third with one out. A walk-off win looked likely, but the way it happened was anything but ordinary. Jon Jay hit a ground ball. Dustin Pedroia made a diving stop and threw out Yadier Molina at home. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia then tried to catch Allen Craig at third but threw wildly. Craig was subsequently thrown out trying to score by left fielder Daniel Nava, but the umpires called third baseman Middlebrooks for obstruction, saying he impeded Craig. The Cards won the game at home, 5-4, but the Sox captured the series in six games.

Cards walk off on obstruction
Cards walk off on obstruction
02:33
Oct. 26th, 2013
2012 NL Wild Card Game: The infield fly rule
The Braves brought the tying run to the plate with one out in the eighth when Andrelton Simmons lofted a high fly ball into no man’s land in shallow left. Shortstop Pete Kozma ranged well into the outfield grass, but the ball fell between he and left fielder Matt Holliday — seemingly loading the bases for Atlanta. But the left-field umpire made a delayed infield fly call, deeming that Kozma had time to settle under the ball to strand runners at second and third base and put another out on the board.

The game was delayed 19 minutes as the Braves argued the call and fans at Turner Field began throwing debris onto the field. Atlanta was ultimately unable to score in the inning, and St. Louis went on to claim the winner-take-all contest, 6-3.

Umps rule infield fly on popup
Umps rule infield fly on popup
04:59
Oct. 5th, 2012
2007 NL West tiebreaker: Matt Holliday’s slide
This wasn’t technically a postseason game, but we’ll count it here since it was an elimination game. The NL West came down to a Game 163 in 2007, and that game came down to one very momentous play. The Padres carried an 8-6 lead over the Rockies to the bottom of the 13th at Coors Field before Colorado tied it with three straight extra-base hits off future Hall of Fame closer Trevor Hoffman. Todd Helton took an intentional walk and then Jamey Carroll hit a liner to right with Holliday on third. Holliday tagged and sprinted home and seemingly beat the tag, except replay would show that he may not have touched home plate.

Holliday didn’t go back to touch home before the Rockies celebrated, and Padres fans still maintain that he never touched the bag. Colorado moved on to the postseason and eventually the World Series with the 9-8 win, while San Diego’s season came to an end.

Holliday safe at home
Holliday safe at home
00:51
Oct. 1st, 2007
2005 ALCS Game 2: A.J. Pierzynski and the dropped third strike
The White Sox, on their way to a championship, were tied with the Angels, 1-1, in the ninth inning and down a game in the series. With two outs, it appeared that Pierzynski whiffed on a low pitch from Kelvim Escobar to send the game into extras. But as the Halos ran off the field, Pierzynski ran to first base as if there was a dropped third strike, reaching easily. Home-plate umpire Doug Eddings agreed — to the Angels’ dismay — as they believed catcher Josh Paul snagged the pitch cleanly. Once play resumed, Pablo Ozuna ran for Pierzynski, stole second and scored on Joe Crede’s walk-off double for a 2-1 victory. The White Sox would go on to win their first World Series since 1917.

White Sox wild rally in 9th
White Sox wild rally in 9th
01:57
Oct. 12th, 2005
2004 ALCS Game 6: A-Rod’s glove swat
There were plenty of iconic moments in the Red Sox’s historic comeback in the 2004 ALCS — Dave Roberts’ steal, David Ortiz’s walk-offs and Curt Schilling’s bloody sock — but Alex Rodriguez’s glove swat takes the title of most disputed. In the eighth inning of Game 6 at Yankee Stadium, the Red Sox were trying to hold on to force Game 7, but the Yankees had just pulled to within 4-2 on Derek Jeter’s RBI single. Rodriguez, the tying run, stepped to the plate against Bronson Arroyo … and squibbed a slow grounder to the right side of the infield. Arroyo came off the mound to field the ball and raced over to tag Rodriguez, who swatted at Arroyo’s glove, knocking the ball free and down the right-field line, allowing Jeter to come all the way around to score.

But wait! After Red Sox manager Terry Francona came out to argue and a long discussion by the umpires, A-Rod was called out for interference and Jeter sent back to first. Yanks fans were incensed, and Rodriguez and manager Joe Torre argued the call to no avail. The Red Sox went on to win the game, 4-2, complete their comeback in Game 7 and eventually end an 86-year title drought.

A-Rod slaps ball from Arroyo
A-Rod slaps ball from Arroyo
02:16
Oct. 19th, 2004
1999 ALCS Game 4: Chuck Knoblauch’s phantom tag
This was Red Sox vs. Yankees at Fenway Park, so the atmosphere was already tense. With the Yanks holding onto a 3-2 lead with one out in the eighth, Jose Offerman appeared to beat out a double play with Mariano Rivera on the mound, but he was called out due to what the umpires deemed to be a tag between first and second base by Knoblauch, the Yankees’ second baseman. But a closer look revealed that Knoblauch never touched Offerman, missing him by a wide margin before throwing to first for the “second out.”

The Yanks scored six runs in the ninth for a 9-2 victory before clinching the series the next day en route to their second of three consecutive World Series crowns.

Knoblauch’s ‘phantom’ tag
Knoblauch’s ‘phantom’ tag
01:21
Oct. 17th, 1999
1998 ALCS Game 2: Knoblauch argues a call mid-play
Game 2 stretched into the 12th inning at Yankee Stadium when Cleveland’s Travis Fryman laid down a bunt. Yankees reliever Jeff Nelson threw the ball to first, but it hit Fryman with the ball. Knoblauch, covering first, pointed toward the baseline to argue that Fryman had gotten in the way, but the play was not ruled dead and the Indians kept running, with Enrique Wilson coming around to score from first.

Torre came out to argue the play, and the umpires conferred for several minutes before maintaining their call. Cleveland tacked on two more runs and evened the series at one game apiece in a 4-1 win, but New York took the series in six and the World Series.

Knoblauch’s miscue at first
Knoblauch’s miscue at first
02:42
Oct. 7th, 1998
1996 ALCS Game 1: Jeffrey Maier aids Derek Jeter
The first championship run of the Yankees’ 1990s dynasty was not without controversy. Baltimore led New York, 4-3, in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 1 when Jeter hit a hard fly ball to the right-field fence. It looked as though Orioles right fielder Tony Tarasco could have caught the ball, but Yankees fan Maier reached out and tried to glove the ball before it bounced into the stands. Tarasco argued for fan interference, but it was not given. The Yanks went on to win the game, 5-4, in 11 innings before going on to capture the series and their first championship in 18 years.

Jeter’s Maier-assisted home run
Jeter’s Maier-assisted home run
00:31
May 2nd, 2017
1991 World Series Game 2: Kent Hrbek moves Ron Gant
A Series ultimately remembered for the duel between Jack Morris and John Smoltz in Game 7 also had a wild moment earlier on. The Twins held a 2-1 lead in the third inning at the Metrodome when Gant hit a two-out single to left field, sending Lonnie Smith to third. Dan Gladden’s throw got away, but pitcher Kevin Tapani was backing up the play and fired to first to try to catch Gant. While Gant made it back in time, Hrbek “helped” him come off first base by lifting his leg. Gant was ruled out, and Minnesota went on to win the game, 3-2, and the series in seven.

Hrbek lifts Gant off bag
Hrbek lifts Gant off bag
00:53
Oct. 20th, 1991
1986 NLCS Game 3: Wally Backman’s bunt single
With the series tied, the Mets trailed the Astros by a run entering the bottom of the ninth at Shea Stadium. New York’s Backman led off against Houston’s Dave Smith by bunting up the first-base line. First baseman Glenn Davis fielded the ball and tried to tag Backman, who avoided him but in doing so appeared to swerve out of the baseline to the outside before diving headfirst into the bag. The Astros argued that Backman should have been called out, but to no avail. Later in the inning, Lenny Dykstra hit a walk-off homer for the 6-5 victory, and the Mets went on to win the NLCS and a ring.

Backman leads off 9th with bunt
Backman leads off 9th with bunt
01:58
Oct. 11th, 1986
1985 World Series Game 6: Don Denkinger misses call at first base
Three outs away from a World Series title, the Cardinals held a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth at Royals Stadium. Jorge Orta led off the inning with a ground ball wide of first that first baseman Jack Clark went over to field as pitcher Todd Worrell ran over to cover the bag. Clark tossed to first, and it appeared Worrell caught the ball and got his foot to the bag before Orta reached it. But first-base umpire Denkinger ruled Orta safe.

The next batter, Steve Balboni, singled to left and was pinch-run for. Jim Sundberg laid down a sacrifice bunt attempt, but Worrell got the lead out at third. A passed ball moved runners to second and third before Worrell intentionally walked Hal McRae. Pinch-hitter Dane Iorg followed with a two-run walk-off single. The Royals got a gem from Bret Saberhagen the next night as Kansas City won the World Series.

“The object is to get the call right,” Denkinger said in 2014. “That’s a good thing. So I’m all for review. And if they had it back then, probably nobody would ever know my name.”

Denkinger’s missed call
Denkinger’s missed call
00:35
Oct. 26th, 1985
1978 World Series Game 4: Ball deflects off Reggie
The Yankees and Dodgers were facing off in their second straight World Series and Reggie Jackson — the man who put himself into the history books with his three-homer game against L.A. the year before — was at the center of another big play. The Dodgers led, 3-1, in the sixth inning at Yankee Stadium when Lou Piniella hit a liner to shortstop Bill Russell, who dropped the ball but picked it up quickly and stepped on second for a forceout. Russell pivoted and threw to first for a potential double play, but Jackson, running from first to second, stuck out his hip and deflected the throw into the outfield. Thurman Munson came around to score, bringing the Yanks within a run.

Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda vehemently argued with the umpires, but the play stood. The Yankees eventually won, 4-3, in 10 innings and took home their second straight World Series crown.

Reggie’s hip deflects throw
Reggie’s hip deflects throw
04:14
Oct. 14th, 1978
1969 World Series Game 5: The shoe polish play
The “Miracle Mets” were trying to clinch their first championship, and they might have gotten some help in that quest. In the top of the sixth at Shea Stadium, home-plate umpire Lou DiMuro did not agree with the Orioles’ assertion that Jerry Koosman had hit Frank Robinson with a pitch. Robinson struck out, and the O’s did not extend their 3-0 lead. In the next half inning, Dave McNally threw a low and inside pitch to leadoff man Cleon Jones, who thought he’d been hit. Again, DiMuro disagreed. But then Mets manager Gil Hodges emerged from the dugout and showed the umpire the black-smudged ball — evidence, he said, that it hit Jones’ shoe.

DiMuro changed his mind, and Jones went to first. Donn Clendenon immediately hit a two-run homer that spurred a rally. The Mets won, 5-3, and completed their unlikely ascent.

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Almost a year ago, the Kansas City Royals added a former 7th-round draft pick to the organization. Can he overcome control problems and help the club’s beleaguered pitching staff?
On November 26, 2018, the Kansas City Royals claimed right-hander Conner Greene off waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals, a move consistent with their well-earned reputation for plucking once-promising pitchers away from teams that don’t want or need them. The Royals hoped Greene, talented but plagued with troubling control problems, could steady himself and climb from the minors to the big leagues in short order. But can the Royals’ hopes be realized?

Greene’s talent is a given; as pointed out in this space earlier this year, he has a menacing fastball and decent curveball. But if these pitches are his blessing, control is his nemesis, a flaw that likely drove the Cardinals’ decision to DFA him and make him available to other clubs.

Greene’s control problems have not been isolated. He may have given Toronto a slight hint of control difficulties to come soon after the Blue Jays made him the 6th pick in the 7th round of the 2013 Amateur Draft. Assigned to the rookie leagues that summer, he issued 15 walks in 30.2 innings for a less than stellar 4.4 BB9. The fact he posted identical 2.7 BB’s in the next two seasons as he advanced from rookie leagues to AA, suggested his first season performance reflected an insufficient sample size or arose from the sudden adjustment to pro ball.

But his control suffered and his walk rate increased steadily over the next three seasons. Pitching at High A and AA in 2016, his BB9 was 4.4; in a season spent entirely at AA in 2017, it rose to 5.6; and it ballooned to an unsightly 6.4 in a 2018 campaign split between AA and AAA. The Cardinals decided not to protect Greene in the Rule 5 draft and DFA’d him. Nevertheless, the Royals saw potential and claimed him.

How to attack his control problems wasn’t the only decision Kansas City had to make when Greene arrived. The Royals, beset at the big league level with holes in their rotation and an inferior bullpen, needed to determine whether Greene was a starter or reliever. Toronto used him in both roles before making him a starter to begin his third season in their minor league system. During 2015 and 2016, he appeared in 53 games exclusively as a starter and went 22-16; then, in 2017, he started all but one of the 26 games he appeared in.

Greene began 2018 starting for the Cardinals’ Springfield AA team and went 11-10 with a 4.44 ERA; despite walking 32 batters in 48.2 innings (5.9 BB9), he was promoted to AAA, where he became a reliever. The role change didn’t help his control, however, as he issued 31 walks in 39.1 innings for a 7.1 BB9, his worst for any minor league team.

The Royals brought Greene out of the bullpen for his first stop with the organization — he started 16 of 21 games at Northwest Arkansas in 2019 and cut his BB9 in half (3.5). But control issues revisited Greene after an August promotion to AAA Omaha. Back in the bullpen, he appeared in eight games and walked 16 batters in 15.1 innings for an ugly 9.4 BB9. He struck out six fewer batters than he walked; the walks contributed significantly to his 1.957 Omaha WHIP.

Although Greene’s experience as a reliever is primarily limited to 2018 and 2019, his control problems do not appear conclusively linked to whether he starts or relieves. His overall effectiveness may be another question: although opposing hitters slashed .237/.357/.312 against him as a starter, and .248/.402/.333 against him as a reliever in 2018, in 2019 they slashed .252/.332/.407 when he started and an alarming .304/.416/.426 when he relieved.

It is Greene’s underlying talent, and the potential the Royals believe he has, that presently secure his spot on the club’s 40-man roster; that new Kansas City manager Mike Matheny is undoubtedly aware of that talent and potential from his Cardinal days may help Greene keep that spot.

The price to get Greene wasn’t steep. To make room for him, the Royals DFA’d Burch Smith after his unremarkable single Royals season in 2018 (1-6, 6.92 ERA). But the November 20 deadline to set 40-man rosters for Rule 5 Draft purposes is rapidly approaching, and the Kansas City Royals may be forced to decide whether the price to protect Greene — dropping someone from the 40-man or blocking another from it — may be too high.

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While we probably shouldn’t expect the Royals to be too active this off-season considering they are still rebuilding, we don’t really know what direction they will got under new owner John Sherman. The outfield is still a fluid situation with questions over whether Alex Gordon will return. Young outfielders like Brett Phillips and Bubba Starling show some potential, but have yet to lock down a roster spot. Whit Merrifield may end up in the outfield again, and prospect Khalil Lee could be ready before very long.

The Royals could look to solidify their open outfield situation through the free agent market. Let’s look at who will available.

Solid starters in their prime
J.D. Martinez can opt out of the final three years and $62.5 million on his deal, but he still seems likely to return to Boston on a new deal.

Nick Castellanos caught on fire once he was traded to the Cubs and the 27-year old should be one of the more sought-after hitters after posting back-to-back 120+ wRC+ seasons.

Starling Marte will likely have his $11.5 million option picked up, although don’t be surprised if the Pirates move him in a trade after a solid 3.0 fWAR season.

Marcell Ozuna has slammed 89 home runs over the last three seasons and has been a solid run producer, but the 28-year old has not been able to replicate his big numbers from 2017, instead putting up a 107 OPS+ over the past two seasons.

Kole Calhoun hit a career-high 33 home runs this year, but has a .315 on-base percentage over the last three seasons, making it a difficult decision for the Angels on whether or not to pick up the $14 million option for the 32-year old former Gold Glover.

Adam Eaton will likely be returning to the Nationals on a $9.5 million club option after a solid 2.3 fWAR season.

Jason Heyward seems unlikely to opt out of the four year, $86 million remaining on his deal, even after putting up his best offensive numbers since 2015.

Avisail Garcia was non-tendered last winter and bounced back to have a solid 1.8 fWAR season with 20 home runs at age 28, but his poor defense could be a concern in Kansas City.

Corey Dickerson has hit over .300 in each of the last two seasons and the 30-year former Gold Glover put up his highest OPS+ since 2014, although in just 78 games.

Yasiel Puig hasn’t been the 5 WAR player he was early in his career, but he is still just 28, has hit 20+ home runs in each of the last three seasons, and has been worth nearly 6 fWAR of the last three seasons combined.

Older veterans
Hunter Pence won AL Comeback Player of the Year at age 36 by hitting .297/.358/.552 with 18 home runs with the Rangers.

Brett Gardner hit a career-high 28 home runs at age 36 and has been a solid player the last few years, but he is hoping to return to the Bronx.

Alex Gordon will certainly have his $20 million option declined, and he has said he will decide this off-season whether or not he wants to continue playing.

Jarrod Dyson continues to steal bases (30 last year) and play great defense (15th among all outfielders in UZR/150 and 8th in DRS), even at age 35.

Nick Markakis would still be a good bargain on his $6 million club option, but the Braves may decide to go in a different direction and part with the 35-year old who hit .285/.356/.420 this year.

Ben Zobrist faced some personal issues this summer but returned late in the year and hasn’t decided if he will retire at age 39.

Adam Jones was below replacement level last year at age 34 mostly due to a significant decline in defense and on-base percentage that was 18th-worst among qualified hitters.

Melky Cabrera can still hit for average, but he has little power, was an atrocious defender last year and should probably be limited to a bench role.

Others: Carlos Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, Curtis Granderson

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Free agency preview: Relief pitchers
Role Players
Lonnie Chisenhall has only played in 29 games the last two seasons but the 31-year old has been a decent left-handed bat when healthy.

Cameron Maybin has played for five teams in the last two seasons, but enjoyed a renaissance with the Yankees, hitting .28/.364/.494 in 82 games this year.

Leonys Martin is a solid defender in center, and while the 31-year old had an atrocious season offensively, he could be a bounce-back candidate.

Gerardo Parra has had a moment with his Baby Shark walk up music during the playoffs, but the 32-year old has been a replacement-level outfielder the last two seasons.

Billy Hamilton didn’t exactly set the basepaths ablaze with the Royals, stealing just 18 bases in 93 games, but perhaps he can run more in a second stint in Kansas City.

Juan Lagares is also a glove-first, no-bat outfielder, but the former Gold Glover is just 30-years old and could fill out a bench.

Jon Jay dealt with a lot of injuries in 2019, and at age 34, he’ll have to prove he can still get on base as a role player.

Carlos Gomez has declined prety rapidly the last two seasons and at age 33, is probably in line for a minor league deal.

Aaron Altherr showed some promise with 19 home runs and a 122 OPS+ in 2017 but has struggled to hit since then and the 28-year old was designated for assignment by the Mets in August.

Others: Chris Owings, Peter Bourjos, Austin Jackson, Gorkys Hernandez, Charlie Tilson, Cesar Puello, Jace Peterson, Blake Swihart

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Highly touted pitching prospect Brady Singer impressed in his first full season of professional baseball, surpassing many expectations the Royals set for his first season in the minors.

Kansas City’s first-round draft pick from 2018 has lived up to his reputation as a polished pitcher and intense competitor with dynamic stuff, but he also did his share of learning and even hit a few minor bumps in the road on his fast track to the majors.

His first season in the minors added to the intrigue surrounding the former national college pitcher of the year and provided a clearer picture of the strides he still needs to make before he’s ready to become a mainstay in the Royals’ major-league rotation.

“When you reflect on the year he had, he met all expectations and probably exceeded expectations,” Royals assistant general manager/player personnel JJ Picollo said. “He didn’t get the chance to compete in 2018 just because of that groin issue he had going. We decided to go slow with that. He didn’t have the benefit that some of the other guys had in ‘18 of getting his feet wet.”

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Baseball America and MLBPipeline.com each rank Singer, who turned 23 in August, among the top 100 prospects in baseball. MLBPipeline ranks him the top pitching prospect in the Royals’ farm system.

This season, between High-A and Double-A, Singer posted a 12-5 record with a 2.85 ERA in 26 starts (148 1/3 innings). He struck out 138, walked 39 and posted a 1.19 WHIP and an opponent’s batting average of .247.

He earned Carolina League midseason All-Star honors and finished the season by garnering the Royals’ Double-A Pitcher of the Year award.

“One of the things that has been emphasized to Brady — and he’s done a good job embracing it and trying to get better with it — is the development of his changeup,” Picollo said. “His usage (of the changeup) went up as the year went on, which is a great sign that he was gaining confidence in using that pitch.”

Singer’s fastball and slider have been viewed as major-league-caliber pitches since he was coming out of the University of Florida.

While Singer has shown ability to dominate in the minors with those two pitches (though left-handed hitters batted 100 points higher against him in his 10 starts in High-A), the third pitch will be crucial as he faces more advanced and experienced hitters.

By the end of the season, Singer felt like he’d gained a consistent feel for the changeup.

“I could throw it in the zone and out of the zone when I wanted to, just kind of like my slider,” Singer said while in Kansas City at the end of September. “I could get ahead with my slider and then I could throw it out of the zone. I feel like I could do that with my changeup as well.”

Singer credited both Wilmington pitching coach Steve Luebber and Northwest Arkansas pitching coach Doug Henry for working through Singer’s growing pains with the changeup as he tried different ways of throwing it.

“We made a little bit of adjustments, grip-wise and where to put some pressure on. I think a lot of it is just the way I’m thinking of throwing it — throw it just like a fastball,” Singer said.

Henry described Singer’s changeup as “a little firm” at times, meaning it’s harder than ideal to create the desired separation between it and the fastball to a hitter (he’s thrown a low- to mid-90s fastball and a changeup in the upper 80s at times). But Henry contends that Singer just needs to trust it down in the strike zone.

“It’s a plus pitch,” Henry said. “It’s not something he’s going to have to take a whole lot of time working with again. It’s a big-league pitch. It’s definitely not just a show pitch. He can use it to get outs, and he realized that by the end of the year.”

Henry, who spent 11 seasons as a pitcher in the majors, served as the Royals’ bullpen coach for five years prior to 2018. That included the AL pennant run in 2014 and the World Series championship run in 2015.

The pitching coach in Wilmington in 2018, Henry hadn’t worked with Singer until this summer. Singer quickly confirmed everything Henry had heard about his character, off-the-charts work ethic and competitive fire.

“He’s an incredible competitor. As a coach, he’s fun to work with,” Henry said.

When Singer arrived after his promotion from Wilmington, Henry sat him down in front of a computer video system. At the time, Singer didn’t know much, if anything, about all the video and information available to him.

While that could’ve been overwhelming or daunting, Singer deciphered what he needed and didn’t to prepare effectively and efficiently inside of his first two weeks. To Henry’s surprise, he simplified things in a way his old-school pitching coach appreciated.

“He just goes, ‘I’m here to get people out,’” Henry said. “I just thought: ‘I think I like this guy.’”

STUBBORNLY STELLAR
Henry noticed while working with Singer and his former Florida teammate and right-hander Jackson Kowar that they’d been wired the same way from their college days. Their approach simply centered around getting outs.

If that meant they threw their best stuff repeatedly, the results mattered infinitely more than the route taken to get there.

“Singer’s competitive edge puts him at an elite level,” Henry said. “That’s the key for me.”

Of course, being that fiery can lead to some interesting interactions.

One day about four innings into a start at Double-A in which Singer hadn’t thrown his changeup more than twice, Henry pulled aside Singer and catcher Meibrys Viloria and implored them to work the changeup into the sequencing.

The next inning started off with about 12 changeups in a row from Singer. Henry fumed, because that was not the intent of his advice — nor would using the changeup that way help Singer.

Henry “aired out” both pitcher and catcher when they got to the dugout to make his point crystal clear.

Henry chuckled in conveying the story and admitted, “The thing is, he went out there and threw those changeups and I don’t think he gave up a hit on them.”

The Royals believed Singer could’ve probably began this season at Double-A and handled the transition, but the organization decided not to rush his development and thus started him at High-A Wilmington.

Picollo indicated there will likely be spirited discussion about whether Singer begins next season back in Double-A or at Triple-A Omaha and the scoring-heavy Pacific Coast League.

Part of the decision will depend on the need for Singer to strengthen certain areas of his game, such as holding runners on base and fielding his position — as well as the continued progress of his changeup.

Other factors taken into account will include maturity, building confidence, dealing with adversity and learning against higher-level hitters, the environment he’ll be in just two years into his professional career.

“The goal of this isn’t how quickly he gets to the major leagues, it’s how prepared he is when he does get to the majors leagues,” Picollo said. “Whether or not he starts the year in Double-A or Triple-A really shouldn’t impact how quickly he get to the major leagues.

“He’ll put it together when he puts it together. We’ll know when he’s ready.”

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The Royals certainly had a disappointing season, losing 100+ games for the second year in a row. However there were some bright spots, namely three stars on offense. Jorge Soler won the American League home run title, Hunter Dozier emerged as one of the top hitters in the league, finishing 24th in wRC+, and Whit Merrifield led the league in hits for the second year in a row.

The offensive feats of the trio is impressive, but considering the context of the offensive environment, it is not even among the top five offensive trios in Royals history, in my opinion. I took a look back in Royals history and tried to find the top trio of hitters on each team. I took into account their numbers in the context of their era, their ability to get on base, their power, and their speed on the basepaths. I tried to find three very good players (as opposed to 1980 George Brett and two random guys). Who were the best offensive trios in Royals history?

Honorable mention:

1975 John Mayberry/George Brett/Hal McRae

1983 George Brett/Willie Aikens/Hal McRae

1990 George Brett/Bo Jackson/Danny Tartabull

2011 Alex Gordon/Melky Cabrera/Jeff Francoeur

2015 Kendrys Morales/Lorenzo Cain/Eric Hosmer

2019 Jorge Soler/Hunter Dozier/Whit Merrifield

5. 1982 Hal McRae/George Brett/Willie Wilson
Hal McRae .308/.369/.542 27 HR 133 RBI 147 OPS+

George Brett .301/.378/.505 21 HR 82 RBI 141 OPS+

Willie Wilson .332/.365/.431 3 HR 46 RBI 37 SB 118 OPS+

The 1982 and 1983 teams both had really good trios – I gave a slight edge to the 1983 edition. It is one of just four Royals clubs ever to have three qualified hitters hit .300 or better, and it is just one of eight Royals teams ever to have three 4+ Offensive WAR players. Willie Wilson captured the batting title in 1982, hitting .332 with a league-high 15 triples. He was still a threat on the bases, swiping 37 bags, fifth-best in the league, and he finished sixth in overall WAR among position players.

George Brett was still in his prime, finishing seventh in Offensive WAR, seventh in runs scored, and tenth in OPS. With Wilson and Brett on base all the time, Hal McRae led the league in RBI with 133, doubles with 46, and he finished top ten in batting average, slugging percentage, and OPS.

4. 1987 Danny Tartabull/George Brett/Kevin Seitzer
Danny Tartabull .309/.390/.541 34 HR 101 RBI 142 OPS+

George Brett .290/.388/.496 22 HR 78 RBI 131 OPS+

Kevin Seitzer .323/.399/.470 15 HR 83 RBI 128 OPS+

The 1987 season was a juiced-ball year, with home runs going up suddenly 16 percent over the previous season. Sounds familiar, huh? That even applied to the club hitting in the large confines of Royals Stadium, with Royals home runs going up 22 percent to what was then a club record 168 team home runs in 1987.

Some of that was a juiced ball, but some of that was due to the acquisition of a young slugger from Seattle by the name of Danny Tartabull. The outfielder smacked 34 home runs, finishing tied for third in the league, and was also top ten in hits, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, and total bases. But perhaps even more promising was rookie third baseman Kevin Seitzer, who was named an All-Star in his first year and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting to slugger Mark McGwire. He led the league with 207 hits, threatening the MLB rookie record and finished sixth in batting average. He was fourth in Offensive WAR, eighth in on-base percentage, ninth in runs scored, and eighth in Runs Created.

3. 1977 George Brett/Al Cowens/Hal McRae
George Brett .312/.373/.532 22 HR 88 RBI 142 OPS+

Al Cowens .312/.361/.525 23 HR 112 RBI 137 OPS+

Hal McRae .298/.366/.515 21 HR 92 RBI 136 OPS+

Only two Royals teams have ever had three qualified hitters post a 135 OPS+ or better, the 1972 club in an extreme pitcher’s environment, and the 1977 club. Hal McRae finished just shy of hitting .300, which would have made this club just the 12th team in baseball history to have at least three .300 hitters all with 20 or more home runs. Still, McRae had an impressive season leading the league in doubles with 54, setting a club record that still stands. McRae, who played in all 162 games, finished seventh in hits and fourth in Runs Created. Cowens also played in all 162 games and had a career year, finishing second in MVP voting to Rod Carew and ending up in the league leaders in RBI (fourth), hits (ninth), and slugging percentage (eighth).

But George Brett was still the driving force of this team, finishing fifth in the league with 6.0 Offensive WAR despite playing just 139 games. Brett was tenth in batting average, sixth in slugging percentage, eighth in OPS, and eighth in total bases. The 1977 Royals won a club-record 102 games and with these three pacing the offense, it is easy to see why.

2. 2000 Jermaine Dye/Mike Sweeney/Johnny Damon
Jermaine Dye .321/.390/.561 33 HR 118 RBI 135 OPS+

Mike Sweeney .333/.407/.523 29 HR 144 RBI 131 OPS+

Johnny Damon .327/.382/.495 16 HR 88 RBI 136 R 46 SB 118 OPS+

The 2000 Royals scored the most run in club history with 879, although you have to consider it was at the height of the silly-ball/PED era. Still, it was good for fifth-best in the league, one of just two times the Royals have finished top five in runs scored since 1982 (the other was in 2003). The 1999-2000 Royals were the only two clubs in franchise history to have three 100-RBI hitters, with Joe Randa joining Dye and Sweeney in 2000.

Both the 1999 club and 2000 club had gaudy numbers, but when you factor in the context of the league, the 1999 club falls short while the 2000 club still looks good. Johnny Damon finally lived up to his star potential, leading the league in runs scored and stolen bases and finishing tenth in batting average, second in hits, tenth in doubles, third in triples, and ninth in total bases. Mike Sweeney finished just one run batted in short of leading the league, setting a club record in the process. He also finished third in hits, and tenth in Runs Created. Jermaine Dye became the first Royals hitter in over a decade to be voted into the All-Star team with a team-high 33 home runs. He finished seventh in the league in hits and fifth in total bases.

1. 1976 Hal McRae/George Brett/Amos Otis
Hal McRae .332/.407/.461 8 HR 73 RBI 153 OPS+

George Brett .333/.377/.462 7 HR 67 RBI 144 OPS+

Amos Otis .279/.341/.444 18 HR 86 RBI 26 SB 93 R 128 OPS+

The first team in club history to make the playoffs did so with a tremendous offensive trio. The home run totals may not seem like much by today’s standards, but remember this was a pitcher’s era. In 1976 just ten AL hitters even hit 20 home runs, and only 42 AL hitters managed even 10 home runs. Otis actually finished 11th in the league in home runs with 18, combining power with enough speed to swipe 26 bases. He also led the league with 40 doubles, was fifth in runs scored, and seventh in total bases.

But it was Brett and McRae that really paced the team offensively, as the two battled for the batting title that would have a controversial finish. Both Brett and McRae would finish in the top five in the American League in OPS+, with Brett leading the league in hits, triples, total bases, and McRae leading the league on on-base percentage and OPS. Brett would also led all hitters in Offensive WAR and was second in overall WAR, but finished second in MVP voting to Yankees catcher Thurman Munson (who was probably the third- or fourth-best player on his own team).

This was a difficult list to put together, so there is plenty of room for debate. What trios would you have as the best in Royals history?