KC Royals: The Top 5 Kansas City speedsters, Part 2

(Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images) /
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KC Royals
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No. 2: Freddie Patek (1971-79), the short but quick KC Royals shortstop.

Freddie Patek, known affectionately as “The Flea,” may have been the shortest major league player during his career (1968-1981), but he was another example of the KC Royals mantra of run, run, run.

Patek was dealt to Kansas City from the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1970, along with Bruce Del Canton and Jerry May, in exchange for Jim Campanis, Jackie Hernandez, and Bob Johnson. Patek was quick to make a splash in his first season with the Royals, when he hit for the cycle in July against future Royal and Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry’s brother Jim. The baseball feat is more proof of Patek’s speed—players generally have to be fast to rack up triples. He also stole 49 bases that year.

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During his time with the Royals, Patek consistently stole bases whenever he got on. In fact, he had eight straight seasons of stealing 32 or more bases. In 1977, he led the American League with 53 steals, and nabbed 51 the season before.

He was a three-time All-Star during his KC days, and finished sixth in MVP voting in 1971. Overall, Patek stole 336 bases as a Royal and was caught 108 times, giving him a 68% success rate.

Patek also notched 182 doubles and 41 triples as a Royal; 11 of those triples tied him for the major league lead in 1971.