MLB 9s: Kansas City Royals—George Brett, Carlos Beltran Top Voting
One question, hundreds of answers: Which Royal had the greatest offensive season at his position?
Major League baseball has been asking fans this same question in an effort to choose each team's best-ever collection of stars.
They are calling it MLB 9s.
Here I have separated the contenders from the pretenders in an effort to pick my dream Royals lineup, based on their one career year. Have your say by commenting below, or by voting on the MLB site here .
My other MLB 9s you might want to check out are:
Catcher: Darrell Porter (1979)
Porter hit 20 home runs, drove in 112 runs, and scored 101 himself in what I believe is the best offensive season for any Royals’ catcher.
Porter’s 20 home runs are second all-time for a Kansas City backstop behind Miguel Olivo, while his RBI totals surpass any other catcher by a massive 45. His 121 walks are also a franchise high at his position.
Porter batted .291, with a .421 on-base percentage. He recorded 23 doubles and 10 triples, and finished ninth place in the AL MVP voting.
Highlight Game: August 17, 1979 @ Baltimore. By some accounts, his season was quite pedestrian. No multi-homer games, no four-hit games, no five-RBI games, nothing.
It is therefore more of a testament to his durability and consistency that he was able to have the best offensive season by a Royals’ catcher, without relying on a one-off four-home run game for example.
On August 17, Porter went 3-for-4 with a home run, triple, sacrifice, and three batted in, missing out on the cycle by a double.
Competition: Porter stands alone at the top of the catcher mountain. Mike Macfarlane would probably be second, based on his 1993 exploits. He hit 20 homers and batted .273, scoring 55 runs, and knocking in 67.
Good, but a long way from Porter. John Wathan would be even further down the list, saved only be a .305 clip and 17 steals.
First Base: John Mayberry (1975)
Mayberry had a career year in 1975, finishing runner-up in the MVP race to Boston’s Fred Lynn.
Mayberry hit 34 home runs and walked 119 times, giving him a .416 on-base percentage and .547 slugging percentage.
He hit 38 doubles and drove in 106 runs, scoring 95 times, and collecting a total of 303 bases, good enough for second in the AL behind Milwaukee’s George Scott.
Mayberry’s 34 home runs in a single season is the second best mark for a Royals’ first baseman, behind Steve Balboni’s 36.
Highlight Game: July 1, 1975 @ Texas. Mayberry went 3-for-4 with three solo home runs. Despite his headline day, the rest of his team were handcuffed with the bat, as the Rangers ran out 5-4 winners.
Competition: Mike Sweeney had a gem of a season in 2000 which I think is good enough for second best.
He hit 29 home runs and batted .333, scoring 105 runs, and knocking in 144. His 206 hits was third best in the AL, and his 136 runs created and 323 total bases both ranked inside the top 10.
Second Base: Frank White (1986)
White’s 22 home runs and 84 runs batted in are both Royals’ records for second basemen, and his .465 slugging percentage is second only to the .469 he posted four years earlier.
He batted .272 and scored 76 runs, posting the second highest OPS of his career. He ranked seventh in the AL with 36 doubles and 10th with 62 extra-base hits.
In the ’86 season he won his first and only Silver Slugger award and was selected to his fifth All Star Game.
Highlight Game: August 17, 1986 vs. Texas. White had his only multi-homer game of the season, going 4-for-5 with two home runs, a double, a walk, an intentional walk, and seven runs batted in.
The Royals won 9-8 in extra innings, with White hitting a walk-off home run to deep left field off Dale Mohorcic in the bottom of the 11th inning.
Competition: Jose Offerman stole 45 bases and batted .315 during the 1998 season, providing a sharp contrast to the power stroke of Frank White. More than a decade after Offerman’s ’98 campaign, his 102 runs is the most by any Kansas City second baseman.
Carlos Febles had a decent outing the following season, hitting 10 home runs and swiping 20 bags.
Third Base: George Brett (1980)
Brett had an incredible season, setting franchise records with a .390 batting average and .664 slugging percentage.
Brett hit 24 home runs and 33 doubles, stealing 15 bases, and recording 118 runs batted in.
His .454 on-base percentage led the American League, and the 1980 season saw him go to the All-Star Game for the fifth consecutive year, win his first Silver Slugger award, and beat out “Mr. October” Reggie Jackson for the title of Most Valuable Player.
Highlight Game: September 30, 1980 vs. Seattle. In the final week of the regular season, Brett handed the Mariners their third straight loss with a dramatic walk-off home run in the bottom of the 14th inning at Kauffman Stadium.
With runners on first and third, Brett knew a base hit would tie the game. But he took Mike Parrott yard, scoring Willie Wilson and U. L. Washington, and giving the Royals a 7-5 victory.
Competition: When a player had a dominant season like Brett had, the competition is fairly slim.
Dean Palmer hit 34 home runs and drove in 119 batters during the 1998 season, Joe Foy stole 37 bases in 1969, and Kevin Seitzer batted .323 with 105 runs scored in the 1987 season.
Shortstop: Jay Bell (1997)
Bell batted .291 with 21 home runs, 92 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases.
His home runs and RBI tallies are the highest by any Royals’ shortstop, while his 71 walks are second only to Freddie Patek. His .368 on-base percentage is also a franchise high at his position and his .461 slugging percentage is second to Mike Aviles’ .480.
In his only year with the Royals, the former first round draft pick drew 71 walks and stole 10 bases.
Highlight Game: April 14, 1997 @ Toronto. In his only multi-home run game for Kansas City, Bell hit two home runs in a 3-2 victory over the Blue Jays in Canada. Both homers were solo shots, and he finished the day 2-for-4 with a pair of runs.
Competition: U. L. Washington had a decent season in 1982 with 10 home runs and 23 stolen bases, and Mike Aviles batted .325 with 68 runs scored in 2008.
Freddie Patek holds the single season record for steals by a Royals’ shortstop with 49, set in 1971 when he batted .267 and scored 86 runs.
Outfield: Amos Otis (1978)
I believe Otis had the best single offensive year by a Royals’ outfielder in 1978 when he batted .298 with 22 home runs, 96 runs batted in, and 32 stolen bases.
Otis finished fourth in the AL MVP voting behind winner Jim Rice, Yankees’ pitcher Ron Guidry, and Milwaukee slugger Larry Hisle.
Otis finished in the American league top 10 in batting average, on-base percentage, runs batted in, and stolen bases. He was also in the top five in slugging percentage.
His power-speed combination was rated third behind Bobby Bonds and Don Baylor.
The Royals finished first in the AL West, but lost in the ALCS to the Yankees.
Highlight Game: September 6, 1978 @ Oakland. Otis snapped an 8-8 tie in the top of the 12th inning against the As with a two-out, two-run single to right field.
Otis finished 4-for-6 with a home run in the eighth inning, a walk, a stolen base, and four RBI.
Al Cowens (1977)
Cowens batted .312 with 23 home runs, 112 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases.
His 112 runs batted in is the third highest total of any Royals’ outfielder ever, while his 14 triples has only ever been beaten by the speedy Willie Wilson.
Cowens played all 162 games, ranked fourth in the AL with 318 total bases, and finished second in the MVP ballot behind Rod Carew.
Highlight Game: September 6, 1977 @ Seattle. Cowens went a perfect 5-for-5 with a pair of home runs, a double, four runs, and four RBI against the Mariners in the Kingdome.
It was his second five-hit game of the season and his only multi-home run game of the ’77 campaign.
Carlos Beltran (2001)
Beltran shone as a true five-tool player in the KC outfield in 2001. He batted .306 with 24 home runs and 31 stolen bases, recording triple-digit marks in both runs scored (106) and runs batted in (101).
In his third full year as a Royal, the 24-year-old Beltran hit 32 doubles and had a .514 slugging percentage. He ranked inside the top 10 of the AL for runs, hits, total bases, and steals.
Highlight Game: August 22, 2001 vs Chicago White Sox. In an agonizing 13-12 loss to the White Sox, Beltran went 3-for-4 with six runs batted in, a steal, and two walks.
He was a double short of hitting for the cycle after placing a triple in the third and a home run in the seventh.
Competition: Danny Tartabull is the one guy who I feel slightly bad about leaving off this list. He had three very good seasons with the Royals, including two different years when he batted above .300 with more than 30 home runs.
He was a solid gap hitter, playing at a time when the Royals were on top of the world after winning the World Series in ’85.
His best season came in 1991 when he hit 31 home runs and drove in 100 batters. His .593 slugging percentage ranks No. 1 all-time among Royals’ outfielders.
Jermaine Dye had a decent year in 2000 with 33 home runs and a .321 batting average, and both Lou Piniella and Richie Scheinblum were above average in 1972.
Designated Hitter: Hal McRae (1982)
McRae had the best single offensive year on any Kansas City DH in 1982 when he hit 27 home runs and drove in 133 runs.
Only Chili Davis hit more home runs as a designated hitter (30 in 1997), and none of their other five full-time DHs recorded 100 RBI in one season.
His 104 runs is also a high mark for the team, and he led the American League with 46 doubles and 133 RBI. He was selected as a substitute to the All Star Game for the third time and finished fourth in the AL MVP voting.
Highlight Game: July 26, 1982 @ Cleveland. McRae went 4-for-5 with a home run, double, and three runs batted in as part of an 8-1 win over the Indians.
Competition: Chili Davis batted .279 with 90 RBI in the season he hit 30 home runs, and Bob Hamelin batted .282 with 24 home runs in 1994.
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