Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
George Brett was certainly the key to the Kansas City Royals offense during their run of dominance in the mid 1970’s through the mid 1980’s, but Frank White may have been the key to the Royals defense. His steady presence in the middle of the Royals infield certainly kept quite a few ground balls from finding their way to the outfield.
In fact, one could argue that White was the greatest defensive second baseman in baseball history. He won eight Gold Glove awards, and is second all time with 126 total zone runs saved as a second baseman. He ranks twelfth all time in putouts and assists, while White’s 1382 double plays rank ninth in baseball history. There were certainly few second basemen ever to play that would rank among White’s equal on the diamond.
That is not to say that White was a one dimensional player. In an era when the all glove, no bat middle infielder ruled the baseball world, White was an anomaly, capable of hitting double digit home runs while stealing bases. His career marks of 2006 hits, 160 home runs and 178 stolen bases, to go along with his .255/.293/.383 batting line, are certainly solid numbers.
Even though White’s offense alone would not likely be enough to make the Hall of Fame, his defensive acumen should be. His numbers compare quite favorably to another defensive specialist with a solid bat in Bill Mazeroski. Maz was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee, while White was off the BBWAA ballot just like Quisenberry, garnering 3.8% of the vote in 1996.
If Mazeroski is in the Hall of Fame, Frank White should be as well. Perhaps he can find his way on the Veteran’s Committee ballot in the future and get the recognition that the Kansas City Royals great deserves.
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