In Royals history age 26 appears to be the sweet spot. Seasons of an OPS+ at or greater than 120 have been achieved at that age more than any other in team history. As you can see from the chart below this aligns nicely with what we now know to be a player’s prime years.
Billy Butler just completed his age 26 season so I thought I’d take a look to where his offensive numbers rank compared to the other 26 year olds in Royals history. While I’m a big fan of OPS+ I decided against it being the determining stat. Instead I looked at each player’s numbers across the board and came up with what I feel are the 10 top seasons.
This would be Mayberry’s finest season and his last truly great year. He led the American League in walks and OPS+ and his 34 home runs broke Bob Oliver‘s club record. He would hold the record until Steve Balboni would break it in 1985. Balboni has famously held it ever since. Mayberry followed his best season with his worst. At age 27 he hit just 13 home runs while posting a 94 OPS+.
2. George Brett
Like Mayberry, Brett was already a star by this age. He set career highs in OPS+, home runs, RBIs and triples. People rarely talk about Brett’s triples but from 1975-1979 he led the AL three times. In 1980 Brett went from one of the best around to one of the best ever. He hit .390/.454/.664, won the MVP and led the Royals to their first World Series.
For those that are wondering, Patek also makes the top 10 in bWAR.