Thursday, September 17, 2009

Kansas City Royals - The All-Time 9

On the official Royals website, fans are invited to vote for Royals "All Time 9". The headline at the top of the ballot reads: "What's your dream lineup in Royals franchise history? It's time for you to decide. Vote for the best single-season hitting performances by position in Royals franchise history." It is an interesting promotion that proposes an interesting question, which Royals player had the best season in franchise history at their position. But if there is one thing I've learned in 30 years of being a high school teacher it is this; an interesting question doesn't guarantee an intelligent answer. If the early returns of the voting are accurate, Royals fans are going to completely miss the mark.

According to writer Dick Kaegel's update posted on 9-15,"Mike Sweeney is doing a good job of staving off John Mayberry [at first base] as fans mull over their best single seasons. Sweeney's 144 RBIs in 2000 have convinced a lot of voters and he has a lead of about 2,000 votes."

I understand that considering only the raw numbers presented on the website the argument can be made that Sweeney is the choice. But when the statistics are placed in context of the season in which they were produced, John Mayberry's 1975 season was nothing short of remarkable and far superior to what Mike Sweeney did in 2000.

Fans are given the following information on the ballot:


If the numbers presented in the table above are the only consideration, the argument can be made that Mike Sweeney was better in 2000 than John Mayberry was in 1975. Sweeney's batting average is 42 points higher and he drove in 38 more runs. But 1975 numbers mean something completely different than those from 2000. When the accomplishments are placed in the context of the season in which they occurred, John Mayberry's 1975 season was superior to what Mike Sweeney produced in 2000 and it isn't even close.

In 2000, Mike Sweeney finished in the top 3 of American League hitters in 2 statistical categories. Sweeney finished 11th in the voting for the American League Most Valuable Player award.


Mike Sweeney had a nice season in 2000 but it should be noted he wasn't even the best 1B in the American League. Jason Giambi, who won the AL MVP award in 2000, and Carlos Delgado both had better seasons than Sweeney. So before Royals fans anoint this season as the best ever by a Royals first baseman, they should consider what John Mayberry accomplished in 1975.

John Mayberry was the best 1B in the American League in 1975 and one of the league's top three players. As the table below shows, he was one of the most feared hitters that season and finished in the top 3 of 11 statistical categories. Mayberry also finished second in the voting for the AL Most Valuable Player.


John Mayberry dominated American League pitching in 1975. Not only was he the best hitting first baseman in the league that year he was one of the American League's top two or three players. John Mayberry's 1975 season is the best individual season by a Kansas City Royal not named George Brett and it is a shame that it is not being remembered or acknowledged by Royals fans.

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