Batting ninth for the KC Royals: SS Freddie Patek
Freddie Patek, affectionately known as "The Flea," carved out a commendable baseball career, prominently in Kansas City. His professional journey commenced with the Columbus Jets in 1967, where he showcased his swift prowess by topping the International League in stolen bases with an impressive 42. His MLB debut followed on June 3, 1968, with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
However, it was with the Royals that Patek truly left his mark. Traded to the Royals, he emerged as a linchpin during the team's golden era in the 1970s and 1980s. His contributions were duly recognized when he was inducted into the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame in 1992.
Offensively, Patek displayed his versatility. In 1971, he boasted a career-best batting average of .267, leading the AL in triples and ranking second in stolen bases. He further showcased his base-running acumen by leading the American League in stolen bases in 1977 and registering two seasons with 50 or more stolen bases. By the end of his career, Patek amassed a .242 batting average, tallying 1,036 hits, 41 home runs, and 490 RBIs.
He was a three-time AL All-Star, making appearances in 1972, 1976, and 1978. He also topped the AL in triples and stolen bases in separate seasons. Furthermore, Patek's defensive aptitude was highly regarded. Renowned for his agility, especially on artificial turf, he solidified his reputation as one of the premier shortstops of his time. His defensive contributions were further highlighted by leading the AL in double plays turned by a shortstop for four consecutive years from 1971 to 1974.
Patek's 17.0 fWAR ranks the lowest in this lineup, sitting 13th in Royals history. Hopefully, in the coming years, Royals fans will have another shortstop to choose from as the franchise's best.