KC Royals: Only 2 locks in club’s Hall of Fame field

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(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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KC Royals, Yordano Ventura
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Are Yordano Ventura and Luke Hochevar viable candidates for the Hall?

The KC Royals careers of Yordano Ventura and Luke Hochevar ended too soon, leaving their credentials for the franchise Hall of Fame incomplete. Did they accomplish enough to warrant induction?

On the surface, Hochevar’s 46-65 record and 4.98 ERA in six Kansas City seasons isn’t the stuff of Hall of Famers. Look a bit deeper, though, to find his highest value to the Royals: the club made Hochevar a reliever in 2013, and his 1.92 ERA in 58 appearances helped KC to its first winning season in 10 years. He then provided set up services to “H-D-H,” KC’s vaunted relief trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland, frequently holding the fort in the sixth inning until, beginning with Herrera, H-D-H took over in the seventh.

He even won the final game of the 2015 World Series. But thoracic outlet issues forced his 2018 retirement.

Ventura pitched four seasons for the Royals before dying in a January 2017 vehicle accident. He was an integral part of the club’s rotation, going 14-10 in 2014 and 13-8 in 2015 as Kansas City made successive trips to the World Series and won it in 2015. He tied James Shields for the team lead in wins in ’14, and Edinson Volquez for the same in ’15.

Fittingly, his teammates nicknamed him “Ace.” He started Game 2 of the 2014 World Series and held the Giants to two runs in 5.1 innings; he left with the game tied, so didn’t get the win, but kept KC in a game it won 7-2. Manager Ned Yost gave him the start in Game 6, and he came through when the Royals needed it most—he pitched seven scoreless innings to help the club force Game 7.

To describe Ventura as “mercurial” might be too strong, but he could be emotional and angry on the mound. But that doesn’t change the fact he was good, and there’s no telling how much better he could have become.

Will these two pitchers who played key roles in two World Series seasons make the Kansas City Hall? Hochevar found his niche in the bullpen, and might have been headed for the honor, but injury ended his career before he could fully establish his credentials. Ventura has the better case, but some voters may believe his career was too short. Hochevar won’t make it but, for a lot of reasons, Ventura just might.