Itâ€™s time to look at the best batting seasons in the seventh spot in Royalsâ€™ history. Looks like weâ€™ll wrap this up just in time for spring training, which is just around the corner. It wonâ€™t be long now! Just keep telling yourself that on these freezing cold mornings.
Based on what Iâ€™m looking at for this spot, I think the next two lists are going to be tough to compile. I kind of expected that, but itâ€™s still interesting to see the dropoff from the previous spot in the order.
Speaking of, here are links to the previous rankings:
1. Bo Jackson, 1988
350 PA, .251/.292/.462, 50 R, 18 HR, 45 RBI, 11 2B, 24 SB
If youâ€™re a Royals fan under say, 30, I donâ€™t know which is worse for you: you donâ€™t remember 1985 or you didnâ€™t see Bo play. The Royals chose to break Bo in slowly, and they could afford to, with George Brett and Danny Tartabull and Kevin Seitzer and Willie Wilson and Frank White in the lineup. Thatâ€™s the advantage of a veteran team, and a battle future Royals teams will likely be fighting more often than not. Anyway, this was Boâ€™s second full season in the majors, and it was pretty good. In fact, his offensive numbers improved every year before he got hurt. Stupid football.
2. Clint Hurdle, 1980
205 PA, .311/.371/.503, 24 R, 6 HR, 32 RBI, 15 2B, 0 SB
On Opening Day, 1980, Clint Hurdle was a 22-year-old right fielder who had already played 201 major league games and been on the cover of Sports Illustrated. He would play 130 games for the American League champions that season and put up a 120 OPS+. And thenâ€¦the bottom dropped outâ€”he would only play 184 major league games after the 1980 season. Injuries played a part. Maybe the pressure did too. Probably only Hurdle knows for sure. Anyway, thatâ€™s two straight cautionary tales on this list regarding getting overly excited about young players. Just something to think about.
3. Steve Balboni, 1985
160 PA, .286/.344/.639, 25 R, 13 HR, 25 RBI, 11 2B, 1 SB
Balboni actually hit fifth or sixth more often in 1985, but he led the team in plate appearances in the seventh spot as well. And put up a .983 OPS there. That was the highest of anyone on this list, but I marked him down a bit for the lack of plate appearances. No disrespect intended, thoughâ€”Balboni was my favorite Royal when I was a kid.
4. Paul Schaal, 1972
176 PA, .291/.389/.411, 16 R, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 10 2B, 0 SB
Paul Schaal is probably best-known to Royals fans as the third baseman before George Brett came along. But Schaal actually had a pretty good career. Plucked from the Angels in the expansion draft, Schaal really came into his own in KC. He didnâ€™t have a lot of power (career high in home runs: 11), but he would take a walk (103 in 1971).
5. Alberto Callaspo, 2009
154 PA, .331/.383/.496, 19 R, 3 HR, 21 RBI, 10 2B, 0 SB
Hereâ€™s a question: given what you know about Callaspoâ€™s defense, and what you know about Chris Getzâ€™s offense, and what weâ€™ve seen offensively from Johnny Giavotella so far, would you rather have Callaspo starting at second base on Opening Day this year? It might be nice to have his bat in the lineup, but at the expense of better defense? Itâ€™s a dilemma, and I donâ€™t know which way I would answer it, even.
Darrell Porter, 1977
David McCarty, 2000
Steve Balboni, 1987
Angel Berroa, 2005
Mike Macfarlane, 1992
And one that stunkâ€¦
Jerry Adair, 1969
138 PA, .223/.255/.223, 6 R, 0 HR, 10 RBI, 0 2B, 0 SB
Another expansion draftee, Adair was a classic good-field, no-hit middle infielder. Unlike Schaal, Adair was at the end of his career (he played 7 games in 1970 and was done). His overall numbers for the year were better than these, and he wasnâ€™t in the lineup for his bat, but thatâ€™s pretty awful.