The Five Best “Batting Second” Seasons In Royals History
Hereâ€™s my ranking of the best seasons by a number two hitter in Royals history. If you missed last weekâ€™s post, Iâ€™ll review: I used baseball-reference.comâ€™s records of batting orders for this series. I just looked at whichever player had the most starts in the particular spot in the order (or both players if there was a tie). Thankfully, bb-ref has batting order position as a split, so that made this series easy. Therefore, all stats listed are for the player in that particular spot in the order.
1. Hal McRae, 1977
657 PA, .302/.369/.520, 101 R, 19 HR, 81 RBI, 49 2B, 11 3B
I had George Brettâ€™s 1977 in the honorable mention portion of the post on leadoff hitters. But Brett only hit leadoff for roughly half the season (Tom Poquette did it most of the rest of the time, and was pretty good, too). But the second spot was all McRaeâ€™s, and he did an excellent job. This is the only Royals team to crack 100 wins, and you can make an argument for McRae as their MVP (Brett had better rate stats, but McRae played in all 162 games and was almost as good).
2. Melky Cabrera, 2011
663 PA, .306/.341/.475, 98 R, 18 HR, 85 RBI, 40 2B, 5 3B
What a season! Middle-of-the-order production in the second spot is always welcome. I assume weâ€™re all familiar with the details of this season. I suppose the question now is whether Melky was on something last year. My answer is, frankly, I donâ€™t care. But thatâ€™s a whole other post. Regardless, this season was almost as good as McRaeâ€™s 1977. I gave Hal the nod based on a little more power and a lot better walk rate (McRae walked 53 times and only struck out 35 times, against 34 and 87 for Melky). Still, this was one fantastic year for the Melkman.
3. Kevin Seitzer, 1987
600 PA, .328/.407/.465, 87 R, 11 HR, 65 RBI, 27 2B, 6 3B
Seitzer burst on the scene as a rookie with this campaign, leading the American League in hits and finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting to Mark McGwire. The current Royalsâ€™ hitting coach would have lots of good seasons, but this was pretty much his best. Oh, and of concern to Royals fans, Seitzer walked 80 times this year (and struck out 85 times). If only he could get some of his charges to demonstrate such patienceâ€¦
4. Carlos Beltran, 2004
295 PA, .281/.371/.545, 51 R, 15 HR, 49 RBI, 18 2B, 2 3B
This season would be higher on the list if Beltran hadnâ€™t been traded in the middle of it. Beltran only got to play 69 games for KC that year before he was dealt to Houston. So, playing on a terrible team, knowing he would be traded at any time, Beltran was able to post the highest OPS of anyone on my list of number two hitters. Pretty good. While it would have been nice to see what Beltran could do in a full season, trading him was the right thing to do. Not his fault the return was Mark Teahen, John Buck and Mike Wood. Sigh.
5. Amos Otis, 1976
584 PA, .274/.335/.447, 86 R, 18 HR, 77 RBI, 32 2B, 2 3B
One of my biggest regrets as a Royals fan is that I really have no memory of Amos Otis as a player, just what Iâ€™ve read and heard from others. Itâ€™s obvious from his numbers in this particular season that he had an excellent combination of power and speed (25 steals, only caught stealing 4 times). And he was a good enough center fielder to keep Willie Wilson in left field for at least a few years (watching those two cover the spacious outfield at then-Royals Stadium must have been a delight). AO actually had better rate stats in 1972, but had 200 more plate appearances in the second lineup spot in 1976. In my book, that outweighs slightly better numbers.
Amos Otis, 1972
Joe Randa, 2003
Jose Offerman, 1998
Mark Grudzielanek, 2006
Pat Sheridan, 1984
And one that stunkâ€¦
Neifi Perez, 2002
185 PA, .209/.219/.271, 24 R, 1 HR, 13 RBI, 4 2B, 2 3B
Not to pick on Tony Muser, John Mizerock, and Tony Pena, but batting Chuck Knoblauch leadoff and Neifi Perez second was just not a good idea. At least there was precedent for letting Knoblauch bat leadoffâ€”a long and productive career going into 2002. Perez had never been a good hitter (at least away from Coors Field), yet he got one of the most important spots in the batting order 41 times. There were 25 times when Knoblauch led off and Perez batted second. The Royals were 11-14 in those games, which says something about the importance of batting orders in the micro sense. Thankfully, the Perez-batting-second experiment was basically abandoned by late June.
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