Royals Seasons - 2B

Welcome to the first installment of “Royals Seasons”

With the uncertainty around the position of second base in Royals camp this spring, I thought it would be an ideal starting point for this series.  The purpose of Royals Seasons is to examine the best and worst starters the Royals have put out on the field at the position over the last 40 years (1969-2008).  For the purpose of this series, I am defining “starter” as the player that played the majority of the games in a given season. 

Hopefully everyone will learn a few things about Royals history over the course of the series.  In doing the research for the 2B position, I learned quite a few things and redefined my opinion of some of the players on the list.  The thing that stood out the most is the fact that 21 of 40 seasons reviewed were held down by only 2 players, Cookie Rojas & Frank White.

The main second baseman in the Royals 1969 expansion season was Jerry Adair.  Not exactly a household name, Adair was actually a pretty solid player who had a 13 year career with a .254 lifetime batting average.  Statistically Adair was a slightly above average fielder with a slightly above average range factor for his career.  He finished his career with the Royals playing 126 games in 1969 and 7 more games in 1970.

Coming over to the Royals in a June trade with the Saint Louis Cardinals, Cookie Rojas went on to hold down the position for 6 straight seasons from 1970 to 1975.  Cookie was named to the All-Star team 4 straight years, 1971-1974.  The Royals certainly got the better of the deal since the other player, Fred Rico, never played in the majors beyond his brief 12 game stint with the Royals in 1969.

In 1976 a 25 year old Frank White took over the starting job and would hold it for 15 years.  His run as the starter would end with his dismal 1990 season.  In those 15 seasons, he was named to the All-Star team 5 times (1978, 79, 81, 82, & 86).  His 1986 season also earned him his only Silver Slugger award.  With Frank White, the awards weren’t confined to his offensive capability.  He was an 8 time Gold Glove winner including a 6 year run from 1977-1982.  His other two Gold Glove awards came in 1986 and 1987.  White finished 3rd in the league in doubles in 1982 with 45, and 7th in the league in doubles in 1986 with 37.  On top of everything else, he was also the 1980 ALCS MVP.

After Frank White, the next 18 seasons would see 10 different players be the primary 2B for Kansas City.  1991-1998 saw these 5 different starters: Terry Shumpert, Keith Miller, Jose Lind (2 years), Keith Lockhart (2 years), and Jose Offerman (2 years). 

In 1999 it looked the revolving door at the position would come to an end when a young 23 year old from El Seibo in the Dominican Republic became the starter.  Carlos Febles, the lesser known half of Dos Carlos, held down the starting job for 4 seasons.  Things were looking good for the Royals and Febles at the position, but his career was cut short by a multitude of injuries that sapped his power and his speed.  His last season as the starter would be 2002, and after playing another 74 games in 2003, he would never be heard from again in the major leagues.

2003 the position was given to super utility player Desi Relaford. 

2004 would be the year of Tony Graffinino, for 75 games of it anyway. 

2005 became the Ruben Gotay experiment.

2006-2008 were the Mark Grudzielanek years.  Grud was a solid but unspectacular player at the position, but did win a Gold Glove for the Royals in 2006.  Compared to what Royals fans had seen at the position since Jose Offerman’s 1998, Grudzielanek’s three- year run made it seem like we were watching Rogers Hornsby or Ryne Sandberg instead of a guy who was basically exactly league average in terms of OPS+.

The main measure I use for ranking the seasons below is OPS+, which is a rate statistic expressed as a percentage.  OPS+ is a nice statistic to use because it is normalized to the league.  This stat takes into account factors of home and road ballparks played in.  In addition, it takes into account league average OBP and SLG.  It is also expressed in a simple to understand format.  An OPS+ season of 100 is exactly average, an OPS+ season of less than 100 is below average, and an OPS+ season of more than 100 is above average.  However, I did not rely solely on OPS+ because it does not take into account stolen bases or defensive performance, but the seasons followed suit with the OPS+ rankings.  To evaluate defensive performance, I used two basic statistics fielding percentage (FP) and range factor per nine innings (RF9).  Neither FP or RF9 are ideal statistics and both have flaws, but defensive performance is very difficult to quantify statistically so for comparative purposes they will do just fine.

The top 10 seasons at 2B are:

#10:  Frank White (1978)

Age

G

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

27

143

66

24

6

7

50

26

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

SB

OPS+

FP

RF9

59

0.275

0.317

0.399

13

98

0.978

5.35

 

#9:  Mark Grudzielanek (2007)

Age

G

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

37

116

70

32

3

6

51

23

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

SB

OPS+

FP

RF9

60

0.302

0.346

0.426

1

100

0.988

4.60

 

#8:  Mark Grudzielanek (2008)

Age

G

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

38

86

36

24

0

3

24

19

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

SB

OPS+

FP

RF9

41

0.299

0.345

0.399

2

100

0.990

4.96

 

#7:  Frank White (1984)

Age

G

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

33

129

58

22

5

17

56

27

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

SB

OPS+

FP

RF9

72

0.271

0.311

0.445

5

107

0.985

5.88

 

#6:  Keith Miller (1992)

Age

G

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

29

106

57

24

4

4

38

31

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

SB

OPS+

FP

RF9

46

0.284

0.352

0.389

16

107

0.971

5.02

 

#5:  Frank White (1986)

Age

G

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

35

151

76

37

3

22

84

43

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

SB

OPS+

FP

RF9

88

0.272

0.322

0.465

4

110

0.987

5.37

 

#4:  Keith Lockhart (1995)

Age

G

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

30

94

41

19

3

6

33

14

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

SB

OPS+

FP

RF9

21

0.321

0.355

0.478

8

114

0.974

5.62

 

#3:  Frank White (1982)

Age

G

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

31

145

71

45

6

11

56

16

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

SB

OPS+

FP

RF9

65

0.298

0.318

0.469

10

114

0.978

5.55

 

#2:  Cookie Rojas (1971)

Age

G

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

32

115

56

22

2

6

59

39

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

SB

OPS+

FP

RF9

35

0.300

0.357

0.406

8

117

0.991

5.21

 

#1:  Jose Offerman (1998)

Age

G

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

29

158

102

28

13

7

66

89

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

SB

OPS+

FP

RF9

96

0.315

0.403

0.438

45

119

0.974

4.87

 

Jose Offerman!!!??? 

I couldn’t believe it either, but outside the fielding there isn’t a hole in the year.  His 102 runs scored is the only time in Royals history that any second basemen has scored over 100 runs.  Of the 15 categories Offerman’s 1998 season is the high water mark in 8 of them.

 

Best Royals 2B Seasons by Category:

Games

158

Jose Offerman

1998

At Bats

607

Jose Offerman

1998

Runs

102

Jose Offerman

1998

Hits

191

Jose Offerman

1998

Doubles

45

Frank White

1982

Triples

13

Jose Offerman

1998

Home Runs

22

Frank White

85 & 86

RBI

84

Frank White

1986

Walks

89

Jose Offerman

1998

Strikeouts (fewest)

21

Keith Lockhart

1995

Batting Average

.321

Keith Lockhart

1995

On Base %

.403

Jose Offerman

1998

Slugging %

.478

Keith Lockhart

1995

Stolen Bases

45

Jose Offerman

1998

Fielding %

.994

Frank White

1988

 

.994

Mark Grudzielanek

2006

 

.994

Jose Lind

1993

Range Factor 9

6.03

Frank White

1983

 

If we take a look at the other side of the spectrum, these are the worst 10 seasons at 2B in Royals history.

#10:  Ruben Gotay (2005)

Age

G

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

22

86

32

14

2

5

29

22

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

SB

OPS+

FP

RF9

51

0.227

0.288

0.344

2

69

0.980

5.23

 

#9:  Terry Shumpert (2001)

Age

G

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

24

144

45

16

4

5

34

30

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

SB

OPS+

FP

RF9

75

0.217

0.283

0.322

17

68

0.975

5.08

 

#8:  Carlos Febles (2000)

Age

G

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

24

100

59

12

1

2

29

36

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

SB

OPS+

FP

RF9

48

0.257

0.345

0.316

17

68

0.978

4.93

 

#7:  Carlos Febles (2001)

Age

G

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

25

79

45

9

2

8

25

22

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

SB

OPS+

FP

RF9

58

0.236

0.291

0.363

5

67

0.981

4.88

 

#6:  Jerry Adair (1969)

Age

G

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

32

126

29

9

1

5

48

20

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

SB

OPS+

FP

RF9

36

0.250

0.285

0.310

1

67

0.984

4.75

 

#5:  Frank White (1988)

Age

G

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

37

150

48

25

1

8

58

21

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

SB

OPS+

FP

RF9

67

0.235

0.266

0.330

7

66

0.994

5.45

 

#4:  Frank White (1976)

Age

G

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

25

152

39

17

6

2

46

19

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

SB

OPS+

FP

RF9

42

0.229

0.263

0.307

20

66

0.973

5.68

 

#3:  Jose Lind (1994)

Age

G

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

30

85

34

16

2

1

31

16

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

SB

OPS+

FP

RF9

34

0.269

0.306

0.348

9

66

0.988

4.81

 

#2:  Frank White (1990)

Age

G

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

39

82

20

14

1

2

21

10

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

SB

OPS+

FP

RF9

32

0.216

0.253

0.307

1

58

0.978

5.16

 

#1:  Jose Lind (1993)

Age

G

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

29

136

33

13

2

0

37

13

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

SB

OPS+

FP

RF9

36

0.248

0.271

0.288

3

47

0.994

4.93

 

 

Frank White’s 1990 season is pretty bad, but Jose Lind played in 54 more games than White did and posted only marginally better numbers in some categories.  That said, the two seasons are relatively interchangeable for who was the worst.  Frank White probably belongs at the bottom, but I give him extra credit since he was 39 when he posted his season, while Lind was 29 and theoretically was in his prime.

 

Worst Royals 2B Seasons by Category:

Games

75

Tony Graffanino

2004

At Bats

241

Frank White

1990

Runs

20

Frank White

1990

Hits

52

Frank White

1990

Doubles

9

Jerry Adair

1969

 

9

Carlos Febles

2001

Triples

0

Mark Grudzielanek

2008

 

0

Tony Graffanino

2004

 

0

Cookie Rojas

1972

Home Runs

0

Jose Lind

1993

RBI

21

Frank White

1990

Walks

10

Frank White

1990

Strikeouts (most

96

Jose Offerman

1998

Batting Average

.216

Frank White

1990

On Base %

.253

Frank White

1990

Slugging %

.288

Jose Lind

1993

Stolen Bases

1

Frank White

1990

 

1

Jerry Adair

1969

 

1

Frank White

1987

 

1

Mark Grudzielanek

2007

Fielding %

.971

Carlos Febles

2002

 

.971

Keith Miller

1992

Range Factor 9

4.60

Mark Grudzielanek

2007

 

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