No. 1) George Brett 1980
For our money, Brett’s 1985 season can only be topped by his 1980 campaign. He only played 117 games during the regular season, but it doesn’t diminish what he accomplished in that time. Brett did enough in those 117 games to be named an All-Star, land a Silver Slugger award and earn the only MVP award in franchise history. If it’s good enough for the BBWAA, then it’s good enough for us.
More from Kings of Kauffman
- KC Royals Winter Meetings Tracker: Expectations met
- KC Royals Winter Meetings Tracker: Day 3 update
- KC Royals Winter Meetings Tracker: Day 2 update
- Winter Meetings: Any blockbusters for the KC Royals?
- Grading the 2022 KC Royals: The versatile Nate Eaton
Over roughly two-thirds of a normal season, Brett piled up some insane numbers. His WAR (9.4) and offensive WAR (8.5) are the best for a single season in Royals history. He scored 87 runs, hit 24 home runs and drove in 118 runs. Yes, he drove in just over one run per game. Brett managed 175 hits on the season. For comparison, Cain matched that total in 2017 while playing in 155 games.
It’s no wonder then that Brett came close to the historic .400 batting average mark. He ultimately finished with a .390 average. At the time, it was the highest batting average in baseball since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941. (Tony Gwynn ultimately passed the mark with his .394 average in the strike-shortened 1994 season.) Aside from batting average, Brett also led the league in on-base percentage (.454), slugging (.664), OPS (1.118) and OPS+ (203). Those also are franchise records.
Needless to say, the regular season would be enough to see Brett top this list — even above his other phenomenal campaigns. When you add in his postseason contributions, which helped lead the Kansas City Royals to their first AL pennant, it’s not even particularly close. In their ALCS sweep of the Yankees, Brett hit a three-run homer in Game 3 to send the club to the World Series. Even though the team lost to the Phillies in six games, the left-handed hitting Brett slashed .375/.423/.667.
It proved to be a fitting individual cap to the greatest single season a Kansas City Royals position player has ever had.