The 2000’s were not an ideal time for KC Royals fans. The team was futile, finishing below third place from 2004-2010, including three 100-loss seasons from 2004-2006.
During that dark era of Royals baseball, one of the few bright spots was David DeJesus. He debuted in September 2003, became a starting outfielder when the Royals traded Carlos Beltran to Houston in 2004, and lived up to the task of filling Beltran’s big shoes.
DeJesus had a 2004 slash of .287/.360/.402 with a .763 OPS and seven home runs, 39 RBIs, eight stolen bases, three triples and 104 hits in 96 games. He finished sixth in that season’s American League Rookie of the Year voting (teammate Zack Greinke was fourth).
Over his next few years with the Royals, DeJesus hit below .280 only once. After he slashed .293/.359/.445 with nine homers and 56 RBIs in 2005, Kansas City signed him to a five-year, $13.8 million contract through 2010 with an option for 2011.
DeJesus then hit .300 twice, first in 2008 (.307) and again in 2010 (.318).
David DeJesus ranks in the Top 15 in many KC Royals career categories.
When considering Kansas City’s all-time batting leaders, it’s truly a testament to DeJesus’ ability that he finished in or near the Top 15 in several areas.
DeJesus is eighth in OPS at .787 and tied for eighth in average with Willie Wilson and Lorenzo Cain at .289. He places fifth with a .360 OBP, barely beating out Billy Butler by one point and trailing fourth place George Brett by nine. He’s tied with Beltran for seventh with 45 triples.
DeJesus ranks 14th with 501 runs, 971 hits, and 187 doubles. He’s 15th with a .427 slugging percentage, 16th in walks with 314 and tied for 17th with Alcides Escobar with 390 RBIs.
It’s easy to see how DeJesus quickly became a fan favorite—not only was he one of the few good things going for the Royals between 2004-2010, but he was also a consistent presence on the base paths. And even though he may have lacked power, he received a huge standing ovation when he blasted this walk-off homer in a 2008 game against Seattle:
Unfortunately, things came crashing down for DeJesus in 2010 when he slammed into a fence at Yankee Stadium chasing a Derek Jeter fly ball and tore a right thumb tendon. He didn’t play again that season and the Royals called up Alex Gordon from Omaha to replace him. DeJesus finished the campaign with a .318/.384/.443 line and .827 OPS in 91 games.
Being a fan favorite wasn’t enough to deter management from trading DeJesus to Oakland after the season for Vin Mazzaro and Justin Marks. DeJesus finished his eight-year Kansas City tenure with a .289/.360/.427 line and .787 OPS.
The trade was a significant loss for both the KC Royals and David DeJesus.
While the DeJesus trade to Oakland didn’t have an effect on Kansas City’s Kansas City’s 2011 outfield, Mazzaro and Marks didn’t last long with KC. Mazzaro had the misfortune of surrendering 14 runs in 2.1 innings, setting the franchise record for the most runs surrendered by a pitcher in one game. Marks played in only one game for the Royals before Oakland bought him back in 2014.
As for DeJesus, he spent just one year with the A’s, hitting .240 with 10 home runs in 131 games. He signed with the Cubs in 2012 and hit .258 with 15 home runs during his two seasons there.
Chicago traded DeJesus to the Nationals in August 2013, but he went hitless in three games before they dealt him to Tampa Bay. He spent three years with the Rays and hit .254.
DeJesus had a brief 30-game stint with the Angels in 2015, then officially retired in 2017 and became a Cubs television analyst.
It’s strange to think about DeJesus’ lackluster ending. Although he was a core hitter in eight years with Kansas City, he didn’t shine in other teams’ eyes, bouncing around from squad to squad despite some fairly decent productivity.
Even then, plenty of Royals fans who watched the team play during the 2000’s understand the impact DeJesus had in Kansas City. He brought entertainment to the ballpark with his constant hustle and good play.
David DeJesus was one of the bright spots of the 2004-2010 Royals and should be appreciated for his great style of play during that time.