Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
2. Kevin Appier
During the time between the passing of Ewing Kauffman and the Kansas City Royals rebirth three years ago, there were not many positive moments. The Royals had the surprise year of 2003, Zack Greinke’s Cy Young season and Kevin Appier. That was about it.
Appier, however, really was a terrific pitcher whose best years got swallowed by the stench of the KC Royals dark ages. In fact, Kevin Appier has the highest career Wins Above Replacement (WAR) of any Royals starter with 47.3 bWAR—including the guy that’s no. 1 on our list.
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In 13 years in Kansas City, Kevin Appier compiled a 115-92 record, 3.49 ERA, a franchise best career 130 ERA+ for a starter and a WHiP of 1.250. Appier finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting in 1990 for his 12-8, 2.76 ERA in his debut season. He finished third in the Cy Young vote for his truly phenomenal 1993 season in which he went 18-8 and led the American League in ERA at 2.56.
To be honest, Appier was robbed of the Cy Young in 1993. He finished behind Jack McDowell and Randy Johnson, despite a significantly better ERA, ERA+, and FIP than both of his competitors. Unfortunately, early 90’s voters still believed wins were a significant starting pitcher statistic and rewarded McDowell for his league-best 22 victories.
Appier finished with only one All-Star appearance while playing with the KC Royals, earning the nod in his 15-10, 3.89 ERA season in 1995. The Royals dealt him to Oakland at the deadline in 1999, and Appier played five more seasons with the A’s, Mets, and Angels before returning to Kansas City in 2003-04.
Fortunately for Kevin Appier, he did get the chance to play in the post-season for both Oakland (2000) and Anaheim—winning the World Series in 2002.
Next: The Kid That Helped KC Win Their First Title