Most Royals fans have probably seen the ballot by now. While there are a couple of names that stand out as fairly solid candidates, the 2013 Royals Hall of Fame ballot is also a sad commentary on a period of Royals baseball that was not so Hall of Fame-ish.
We do have some names like John Wathan, Bo Jackson, Darrell Porter, and Kevin Seitzer on the board. Al Fitzmorris, one of the original 1969ers, is there. Outfielders Al Cowens and Jermaine Dye, a more recent bright spot, is on the ballot. But are any of these guys HOF material? Hard to say.
I think the best way to do this, given the time of year, is via bracket. Time to go March Madness on the Royals HOF.
There are 10 candidates up for election this year, so we need to get creative. Let’s find the four most undeserving candidates and match them up in our two play-in games. This should be easy. Right off the bat, we can select Brown, Gobble, and Hernandez. Looking at everyone else, judging off time spent as a Royals player, their total WAR during that span (according to Baseball Reference) and their WAR per 162, it looks like the fourth person involved in the play-in games will be John Wathan.
Let’s pair them off and have the pitchers and hitters face each other. First we have the pitchers, Runelvys Hernandez vs. Jimmy Gobble. Hernandez pitched four seasons for the Royals and had a WAR of 3.3 during that stretch, while Gobble only managed a 1.1 WAR in six years. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Runelvys wins (something he rarely did as a pitcher).
The next battle features Emil Brown and fan fave John Wathan. Brown only spent three years in the Royals outfield, and had a 1.4 WAR. During his decade as a Royals player, Wathan managed a 3.7 WAR. At first glance, looks like a Wathan win. However, since Wathan had such an advantage on seasons played, we’ll look at WAR per 162. Brown managed a 1.1 WAR per 162 with Wathan posting a 1.4. Looks like team Wathan just knocked down a three at the buzzer.
With that settled, we’ll seed the bracket by total WAR as a Royals player. The matchups are as follows:
(1) Kevin Seitzer vs. (8) Runelvys Hernandez
(4) Al Cowens vs. (5) Jermaine Dye
(3) Al Fitzmorris vs. (6) Bo Jackson
(2) Darrell Porter vs. (7) John Wathan
In the first game of the day, the top seeded Team Seitzer knocks off Hernandez easily, winning in blowout. Sadly, it’s the last we’ll see of the Fat Elvis team mascot in this tourney. His halftime show (which was actually just Hernandez doing a kung fu exhibition in a white sequined jumpsuit), was the highlight of this matchup.
The next game, dubbed “Battle of the Backstops”, saw Porter get out to a 12-point lead by halftime. However, Wathan’s experience as a player in KC (six more years than Porter) drew him within just a few points with less than two minutes left in the game. With momentum going his way, Wathan relied on his managerial experience (during five seasons as the Royals skipper, he had a .515 win percent) and coached his team to a one-point victory. Wathan could be the Cinderella story in 2013…
Al Cowens versus Jermaine Dye was a close one. Cowens boasts a 10.5 total WAR with the Royals and a 2.7 WAR/162, while Dye has a 9.5 total and 2.9 WAR/162. Hard to say who gets the edge here…they even played roughly the same amount of time in Royal Blue, with Cowens at six seasons and Dye with five. With less than a minute on the clock, Cowens relies on his 5 WAR from 1977 (the highest single season WAR for either player) and sinks two free throws to win the game. The four seed advances to face Seitzer in round two.
In the final game of round one, a tenacious Bo Jackson relies on raw athleticism to hang with Fitzmorris. Fitz has a 14.2 WAR from his eight seasons in KC, with a 3 WAR/162. Jackson, meanwhile, only played five years with the Royals for a 6.2 WAR and 2.5 WAR/162. But have you seen this guy play? Bo makes one amazing play after another…wowing the crowd, keeping them glued to their seats. Just as the game starts getting out of hand, though, there is a tragic turn of events. With Jackson out to a 15-point lead, he crumbles suddenly to the floor. A nasty looking fluke of an injury leaves the KC crowd silenced. It was about the most deflating thing you could ever imagine. Unable to go at 100%, Jackson faltered, allowing Fitzmorris to scratch his way back into the game and eventually pull out a win. “It’s a miracle,” said Fitzmorris. “Hallelujah.”
At last, here we are…the Final Four. Seitzer, the top seed, takes on Al Cowens, while Fitzmorris is matched up against Cinderella nominee John Wathan. Once again, we see the top seed, Kevin Seitzer, roll to victory…his career average (as a Royal) of .294 and OBP of .380 proving too much for Cowens to overcome. The second matchup sees Wathan taking it to Fitzmorris. Wathan is relentless in the second half, while Fitzy just seems to run out of steam in the end. Cinderella wins again.
After two hard fought rounds of HOF Madness, it all boils down to Seitzer and Wathan. Seitzer jumps out to an early lead, picking his spots and scoring at will. No big plays here…just chipping away, hitting the easy shots, taking what Wathan gives him. Wathan, however, tough as nails, knows how to run the floor. A gritty player with a mind for the game…he takes advantage of some poor defense from Setizer and eventually evens the score.
As regulation draws to a close, the score is knotted at 74. Needing 75% of the vote for induction, the players decline to play overtime, saying if they can’t earn induction in regulation, they don’t deserve enshrinement in the Hall. The most dynamic player on the ballot, they agree, is Jackson. Maybe, eventually, Bo can fight his way into the Hall of Fame. I mean, he just might be the most famous Royal of all…even more than Brett and White and Saberhagen. Surely he belongs? It’s just too damn bad about that injury…