George Brett is king of the Royals' mountain. But who else belongs?
Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history with their "Franchise Four." We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.
Kansas City Royals Mt. Rushmore
The Kansas City franchise began in 1969 and had as much early success as any expansion team prior to free agency. Kansas City won three consecutive division titles from 1976-78, losing in the ALCS to the Yankees each year. Prior to the club's breakout season last year that ended with a Game 7 loss in the World Series, the franchise's first seven postseason appearances came within a 10-year window from 1976-85. The primary face on the Royals Mt. Rushmore, no doubt, must be George Brett. Much work must be done to determine the other three. We’ll focus our attention on the 1976-85 era.
One of the greatest third basemen ever, Brett won batting titles in three decades and made 13 consecutive All-Star teams. Of the 20 best seasons in franchise history, Brett was a vital member of 16 of those. After his career ended, Brett has remained the face of the franchise. It’s impossible to imagine any player ever usurping Brett as the best in team history.
Quiz led the AL in saves in five seasons and from 1982-85 the submariner finished in the top three in Cy Young voting, the only closer ever to accomplish that four straight years. He has 238 saves, many of them in appearances of more than one inning.
White is the only player other than Brett to have his number retired by the Royals. The second baseman won eight Gold Gloves and made 15 consecutive Opening Day starts as anchor of the Royals’ infield.
The beloved lefthander was drafted by the Royals in 1968, a year prior to the big club taking the field for the first time. Splittorff made 392 starts for the Royals from 1970 to 1984, and his 166 wins leads the franchise. Prior to losing his battle with cancer in 2011, he was a broadcaster for the team for more than two decades.
A pharmaceutical magnate named Ewing Kaufman brought baseball back to Kansas City in 1969 and built a competitive, fan-friendly atmosphere. Under his leadership, there were innovations such as the Kansas City Royals Baseball Academy, where the Royals groomed young players outside of the normal player development channels.
The first Cy Young winner in franchise history, Bret Saberhagen, was the ace of the 1985 title team. He won a second award in 1989.
Amos Otis was a fixture in center field during the 1970s and batted .478 with three home runs in the 1980 World Series.
Mike Sweeney earned the respect of fans by the way he carried himself and represented the franchise during the lean years of the 2000s.
Other teams' Mt. Rushmores: