KC Royals Flashback Friday: OF and DH Hal McRae

KC Royals, Hal McRae (Photo by Owen C. Shaw/Getty Images)
KC Royals, Hal McRae (Photo by Owen C. Shaw/Getty Images) /

While the KC Royals aren’t always known for their DH, one player in team history took that job and ran with it, finding his way into the records.

It’s not always the case that fans talk about the KC Royals designated hitter. While there obviously is a DH in KC, it is often a rotation through position players or someone that can get the job done but may not be a standout when compared to the rest of baseball.

The Royals, though, have had some hitters in the past that made their way in the DH role, one of these players being Hal McRae. McRae is likely a name well known to Royals fans both young and old. He started his career in the Cincinnati Reds organization when they drafted him in the 1965 Amateur Draft from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.

McRae worked his way through the minors and started his time in the majors in 1968, but struggled to get things going. Unfortunately, his luck didn’t improve, as he suffered a leg injury that set him back.

In 1970, he got back to playing in the majors but still struggled to get things going both offensively and defensively. This continued during his time with the Reds until after the 1972 season when he was traded with Wayne Simpson to the KC Royals for Roger Nelson and Richie Scheinblum.

His 1973 season was still a bit of a slow start to his time with the Royals, but he didn’t take much longer to prove his worth. In 1974 McRae started to see more time at the DH position, and more success as well. In 1974, McRae slashed .310/.375/.475 with 88 RBIs, 15 home runs and 36 doubles.

McRae saw more time in the outfield in 1975, but his success continued as he slashed .306/.366/.442 with 71 RBIs and 38 doubles, also managing to see his first All-Star Game.

In 1976, McRae started to move more towards the full-time DH, though he did still see some time in the outfield. In ’76, McRae again managed to bat over .300, slashing .332/.407/.461 with 73 RBIs and 34 doubles, again making his way to the All-Star Game and finishing 4th in MVP voting.

McRae did see a few years where his production dropped, but it was never for very long. He managed to find a batting average of over .300 6 times during his career with the Royals (7 if counting his 1987 season with 18 games).

McRae led all of the majors in doubles twice (1977 and 1982), and led the majors in RBI’s in 1982 with 133. McRae’s success saw him in the All-Star Game 3 times, got him MVP votes 5 times, and he even managed a Silver Slugger award in 1982 when he slashed .308/.369/.542.

McRae can be found in the list of top 10 career leaders for multiple Royals records, including; offensive WAR, batting average, slugging, games played, plate appearances, runs scored, hits, total bases, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI’s and multiple more.

McRae finished his career as a player with the Royals in 1987, but also saw some time in the manager’s spot, managing from 1991 to 1994 with a 286-277 record, for a .508 winning percentage in Kansas City.

McRae was inducted into the KC Royals Hall of Fame in 1989 and is well known as one of the Royal’s greats.

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Though his career may have gotten off to a slow start, once he found his spot with the Royals, Hal McRae rarely slowed down. As an aggressive base runner and high average hitter, McRae cemented his place in Royal’s history and is a player that helps remind fans why they are Forever Royal.