KC Royals: Ranking the club’s 4 Rookies of the Year

(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /
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KC Royals
(Photo credit should read TED MATHIAS/AFP via Getty Images) /

Two Rookie of the Year awards—one for the American League and one for the National—are bestowed every year by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Like the name suggests, each award honors the rookie the BBWAA voters deem the best in each league. Could there be good future ROY candidates in the KC Royals’ talent-rich farm system?

Bobby Witt Jr., the top Kansas City prospect per MLB Pipeline and constant subject of speculation about when he’ll be called up, should be a good candidate. So should Jackson Kowar, whose 4-0 Triple-A record to go along with his 1.25 ERA, 32 strikeouts, and 1.015 WHIP may soon earn him a trip to Kansas City.

It’s not that far-fetched that a KC Royals prospect, such as Witt or Kowar, could be named Rookie of the Year when they reach the big leagues: the club has had four in its history.

Let’s go through their numbers to see which past Royals Rookie of the Year was the top one.

No. 4: Bob “The Hammer” Hamelin, 1994 Rookie of the Year for the KC Royals.

Bob Hamelin ranks as the fourth best Rookie of the Year the Royals have had.

“The Hammer” posted a slash line of .282/.388/.599 and a .987 OPS to clinch the award in the strike-shortened 1994 season. In the 101 games he played, Hamelin belted 24 home runs and had 65 RBIs.

The very next year, Hamelin wasn’t able to put it together—his production fell significantly as he hit .168/.278/.313 with a .591 OPS and only seven home runs in 72 games. In his 89 games in 1996, he came back with a modest slash of .255/.391/.435 and a much better .826 OPS.

After his Royals stint (the team released him in the spring of 1997), Hamelin seemed to put things back together when he went to Detroit. In his 1997 season with the Tigers, Hamelin hit .270 with 52 RBIs and 18 home runs in 110 games.

What Hamelin is most remembered for other than his 24 home runs in his rookie season, which earned him the nickname “The Hammer,” is when he quit the game for good when playing for the Toledo Mud Hens, Detroit’s Triple-A affiliate, in 1999.

After a groundout, and as Los Angeles Times writer Diane Pucin reported the eventHamelin walked back to the dugout and announced “I’m done” to Mud Hen manager Gene Roof and, when Roof asked him if he meant just for the game, Hamelin said, “No, for good,” and walked into the clubhouse for the last time.