Kansas City Royals: The Past, And The Future, And The Man Who Built It

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Kansas City Royals hitting coach George Brett (5) Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Dayton Moore, a disciple of Royals former mastermind GM John Schuerholz, has taken an organization practically bereft of talent, on the field or in the pipeline, and made it relevant.

He essentially copied the original blueprint by moving the fences back to the original dimensions, creating a pitching friendly, speed demons’ paradise, and stocking the team with solid pitching, great base-runners with speed to burn, and potent bats that can drive the ball into the spacious gaps of the “K”.

He’s built a defense that echoes the great defenses of years past when Willie Wilson, Amos Otis, Al Cowens, and Lonnie Smith patrolled the team’s cavernous outfield and the middle infield combos of Frank White, Freddie Patek, and U.L. Washington sucked up everything that came near them (and quite a lot that wasn’t).

Darrell Porter was in his prime in Kansas City and was an outstanding defensive catcher and a threat with the bat as well. He was succeeded by the great Jim Sundberg, the feared cannon behind home plate who gave even the likes of Rickey Henderson pause on the base paths.

Then there was the pitching. The Royals of the mid 70s to mid-80s had some of the best pitching in baseball.

With names like Steve Busby, Dennis Leonard, Paul Splittorf, Brett Saberhagen, Larry Gura, Charlie Leibrandt, and great relievers like Dan Quisenberry, Mark Littell, and Al Hrabosky, the Royals pitchers were routinely among the league leaders in ERA and wins.

I haven’t even mentioned the heart and soul of those teams: George Brett and Hal McRae. Those two players, as much as anybody, personified the Royals golden years.

They were absolutely fearless competitors, brutally aggressive on the bases, dangerous at the plate, and 100% clutch when the team needed them most. They expected to win and they got pissed off when they didn’t.