Welcome back to Kings of Kauffman’s two-part series ranking the KC Royals’ Top 5 speedsters of all time. Part 1 identified several Royals worthy of honorable mention, including Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, and Bo Jackson, and revealed Johnny Damon as the fifth fastest Royal.
Now, we reveal the rest of our selections, including the speediest player in club history.
To recap, the threshold for selection is a minimum of 1,000 plate appearances as a Royal. The amount of stolen bases that were attempted and successful are considered, and sprint speeds found at Baseball Savant (our source for all the speed measurements in Parts 1 and 2) will not dilute any past players’ accomplishments since it’s a measure of only recent vintage.
If you believe a player is missing from our rankings, or if you have a different ranking, let us know in the comment section at the end of this story.
We begin Part 2 with a great KC outfielder.
No. 4: Amos Otis (1970-83), the KC Royals’ first genuine speedster-defender.
Amos Otis is a name familiar to veteran KC Royals fans. He was drafted by the New York Mets before being traded to Kansas City in exchange for third baseman Joe Foy in a 1969 deal engineered by famed Kansas City General Manager Cedric Tallis.
During his tenure with the team, Otis was a five-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner. He was in the American League MVP running five different times, and came close to winning in 1973 when he placed third behind Oakland’s Reggie Jackson and Baltimore’s Jim Palmer.
What Amos Otis also did was embody the Royals’ philosophy of speed and defensive prowess.
He was the stolen base leader in the American League in 1971, swiping 52 bags—12 less than St. Louis’ Lou Brock, who led all of baseball with 64 steals.
In his career with the KC Royals, Otis stole 340 bases, while being caught 89 times. He also had eight postseason steals. Otis’ speed helped him record 66 career triples and 374 doubles; he led the American League with 40 two-baggers in his All-Star 1976 season.
His position in center field also called for speed. His three Gold Gloves reflect his skill in covering ground, as Otis had a career fielding percentage of .991. This ranks 30th in MLB history, beating out other notables like Rajai Davis, David DeJesus, Adam Jones, and even former Royal Lorenzo Cain.
Owner of a remarkable career, Otis was one of the first KC Royals to really shine on the base paths and in the outfield.