Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
From 1995 through 2012, with the exception of that astonishing 2003 season, the Kansas City Royals were a laughingstock. A completely moribund franchise after the passing of Ewing Kauffman, the Royals once proud lineage was tattered. Unfortunately for Mike Sweeney, he became a symbol of that era in Royals history.
This is not Sweeney’s fault at all, unless one wants to blame him for being loyal to a franchise that let everyone else go. While players like Carlos Beltran, Johnny Damon and even Jermaine Dye were allowed to leave, Sweeney remained loyal to the Royals, hoping to be a part of the team when everything turned around. Alas, that was not to be the case, and he eventually left in search of a postseason berth. Fortunately, in his final season, he was able to see postseason action with the Phillies, getting a single in his only career playoff at bat.
Sweeney had a solid career overall. In his sixteen years, he was a five time All-Star, finishing as high as eleventh in the 2000 MVP ballot. He amassed 1540 hits, 215 home runs and 909 RBI, but his career truly took off during his seven year peak. From 1999 through 2005, before injuries took their toll, Sweeney was among the top first basemen in the American League, posting a .313/.383/.521 batting line with 163 home runs and 676 RBI. In an era when PED fueled sluggers looked more like comic book characters than baseball players, Sweeney posted a 130 OPS+, despite not having the same type of power.
Unfortunately, injuries ravaged Sweeney after 2005, as he averaged only 61 games per season over the next five years. His career, which had seemed so promising, was virtually over by the time he was 32. One has to wonder what Sweeney’s career, and the Royals as a whole, would have looked like if he stayed healthy.
Mike Sweeney is not likely to get off the first ballot when he become eligible next year, but his career was better than may have been remembered. It would certainly be a shock if Mike Sweeney was to be the next member of the Kansas City Royals to be inducted.
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