Caught in-between the teams always in the playoff hunt and the downfall of the franchise, “Ape” may be underappreciated.
Thanks to only 21 2/3 innings pitched in 1989, Kevin Appier still maintained rookie status going into 1990. That season he started 24 games, went 12-8 with 2.76 ERA and was a top-3 finisher in Rookie of the Year voting.
Only appearing in one All-Star game, Appier was still a rock of the Royals throughout the decade. The 1993 season was his best as he posted an 18-8 record, 2.56 ERA (AL-best) and led the majors with an ERA+ of 179 and HR/9 ratio of 0.3. A third-place finish in Cy Young voting would cap the year.
He is credited with playing thirteen season with Kansas City, however, four of those years only had fourteen combined starts due to injuries or acquired per trade (he came back to KC for 2003 and 2004). The nine full seasons he was able to pitch were spectacular.
A herky-jerky motion often kept batters from picking up the ball quickly and that led to 115 wins and a 3.49 overall ERA in a Royals uniform. He also struck out 1,458 hitters and produced an ERA+ of 130 throughout his time in Kansas City.
Appier has the most whiffs of any Royals pitcher, has posted the highest career WAR (47.1) and is on top in a slew of other Sabermetric measurements. The fact his WAR is among the many great pitchers that came before him shows how valuable he was to the mediocre teams he played on.
Ape was inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame back in 2011 and it was a well-deserved honor. Whether or not another pitcher can have that much effectiveness in his time with Royals is highly suspect.