Kansas City Royals: Steve Balboni, Mike Moustakas and the Home Run Record

Steve Balboni of the Kansas City Royals (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Steve Balboni of the Kansas City Royals (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

The Kansas City Royals are the only team in Major League Baseball without a 40 home run season in their franchise history.

Steve Balboni set the Kansas City Royals‘ home run record in 1985 with 36. The Royals made it all the way through the steroid era without anyone breaking that mark.

Now, 32 years later, Mike Moustakas, in what may be his last hurrah with the only organization he’s ever known, is on the verge of shattering that mark.

With 42 games left on the schedule, Moustakas needs just one more home run to tie, and two to break that long standing record.

Only ten Royals have ever hit 30 or more homers in a season. Only one Royal hit more than 30 twice. it wasn’t Bo Jackson. It wasn’t George Brett. It was Danny Tartabull, who hit 34 in 1987 and 31 in 1991.

Related Story: Royals Top Home Run Seasons All Time

In fact, the record has only been seriously challenged three times since 1985. Tartabull’s 34 in 1987, Dean Palmer hit 34 in 1998, and surprisingly enough, Gary Gaetti smacked 35 in 1995.

In fact, until Kendrys Morales hit 30 in 2016, no Kansas City Royals player even reached 30 since Jermaine Dye crushed 33 in 2000.

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Steve Balboni had four terrific power seasons for the Royals from 1984 through 1987. In those years, he crushed 117 dingers and knocked 313 runs. He also struck out 548 times, including a league-leading 166 times in 1985.

In early 1988, after a poor start in which he hit just two home runs and struck out 20 times in 21 games, Balboni was shipped off to Toronto to allow Brett to move to first base full time.

While he could crush the ball when he made contact, Balboni’s slash line in his four plus years in Kansas City was not pretty – .230/.294/.459/.743.

His OPS was saved somewhat by his Slugging Percentage but for a player with his power, he just didn’t get on base much otherwise.

So one-dimensional was Balboni, that according to Fangraphs, his Wins Above Replacement in 1985, despite the 36 home runs and 88 RBI, was only 1.2. Still, his home run record has stood unscathed for over three decades.

Like Balboni, Mike Moustakas is a hero to Royals’ fans for being part of a World Championship team. Unlike Balboni, Moustakas has spent his entire career thus far as part of the Royals organization.

Moustakas’ career slash is surprisingly similar to Balboni’s when he was with the Royals – .252/.306/.428/.733. That said, his numbers are considerably better since the start of the 2015 season – .280/.332/.511/.843! He is a more rounded player than Balboni as well, already logging a WAR of 2.7 this season, and he has never earned a negative WAR in his career.

It has always seemed as if Moustakas had this power lurking in his skill set. It had just never manifested itself. Now, he is on the verge of being part of Royals’ history again.

With a quarter of the season still left, Moustakas should finish well above Balboni’s old mark of 36. He should even blow past the 40 home run, finally giving the Royals a franchise high in which to be proud.

It’s been incredible that no one has broken the Kansas City Royals home run record set by Steve Balboni so many years ago. Maybe it makes it even sweeter now that a fan favorite like Mike Moustakas in on the cusp of shattering it.

Since Moustakas is in the last year of his contract, when he does break the record,  it may end up being a bittersweet moment, as it will be tough for the Royals to be able to afford him past this season.

But that is another story…