When putting together a team composed of the best KC Royals switch hitters in club history, it’s safe to say the lineup should start in the outfield.
Easily the top-ranked switch hitter on the club’s all-time charts is centerfielder Willie Wilson, who spent 15 seasons with the Royals and is among the leaders in nearly every offensive category and remains at the top in stolen bases. Although not known for his power, Wilson hit 40 home runs, good for 45th on the team’s all-time list. Of those homers, 13 were of the inside-the-park variety, including five of the six homers he hit in 1979.
Oddly enough, Wilson is also among the limited number of Royals to homer from both sides of the plate in a single game, including June 15, 1979, when he hit his lone outside the park homer of the year and an inside-the-parker. Wilson was so effective that Bleacher Report once placed him 22nd on a list of the best switch hitters of all time.
We’ll put Carlos Beltrán in right field. In his six-plus seasons with the Royals, Beltrán clubbed 123 home runs and drove in 516 runs to go along with 164 stolen bases. He also won the 1999 Rookie of the Year Award and is one of four Royal players to earn that honor. Beltrán also homered from both sides of the plate twice as a Royal.
Brian McRae is our pick in left field after spending four-plus seasons near the top of the lineup in the early 1990’s. McRae hit .262 over that time with 30 home runs, 248 RBIs, 93 steals (18th in club history) and 319 runs scored.
Reserve outfielders could include the likes of Félix José, Vince Coleman and Melky Cabrera.
Which KC Royals infielders should be included on an all-pinch hitter team?
Leading the charge in the infield is U.L. Washington, who also homered from both sides of the plate in 1979. In eight seasons in Kansas City, Washington played solid defense and contributed a .254 average, 26 home runs, 228 RBIs, and 120 stolen bases.
Kurt Stillwell is a close second at shortstop, and we’d like to move him to second base, but he never played any position other than shortstop in four seasons with the Royals.
José Offerman, however, played much of his three years with the Royals at second. He logged 487 hits and scored 246 runs.
With few other switch-hitting third basemen available, Gregg Jefferies gets the nod at the hot corner despite spending only one season with the Royals. In 1992, Jefferies came to Kansas City via the controversial trade with the New York Mets that gave the Royals Jefferies, Kevin McReynolds and Keith Miller in return for Bret Saberhagen and Bill Pecota. Jefferies hit a solid .285 with 10 home runs and 19 stolen bases before being dealt to St. Louis in the offseason.
At first base is Kendrys Morales, who swatted 52 home runs, had 199 RBIs and hit .277 over two seasons and helped the Royals to the 2015 World Series title.
Reserve infielders could include Adalberto Mondesi (who may soon take over as the top shortstop on our all-pinch hitter team), Neifi Pérez and Bip Roberts. Although it feels like he had a bigger impact than he did, 2015 World Series hero Ben Zobrist only played 59 games with the Royals, although two of his seven came in a game when he hit one from each side of the plate. His playoff heroics and versatility make him a sentimental choice.
Have the KC Royals had catchers and designated hitters worthy of selection?
With Morales at first base, that leaves the designated hitter slot open for Chili Davis, another single-season Royal. But Davis blasted 30 home runs, drove in 90 runs and slashed .279/.386/.509 in that 1997 campaign.
Catcher is another slot where the choices are few, but Brayan Peña provides a respectable option with his .251 average, 12 home runs and 86 RBIs, mostly in a reserve and platoon role over four seasons. Bob Stinson is our reserve catcher with three home runs and a .264 average over two seasons with the club.
The designated hitter took away most opportunities for Kansas City pitchers to hit after 1973, but before that, one switch-hitting pitcher still managed to stand out—Al Fitzmorris slashed .242/.290/.293 over 109 plate appearances with five doubles and eight RBIs, and is one of the club’s best hitting pitchers of all time.
The Royals could put together a pretty fine team full of good switch-hitters.