The Athletics left Kansas City for Oakland after the 1967 season. Major League Baseball, looking to expand to 24 teams, grants Kansas City one of its four expansion teams which would begin play in 1969. The team, which is owned by Ewing M. Kauffman, would be named the Royals.
Playing their very first game in old Municipal Stadium, the Royals rally from a 3-1 deficit to win in extra innings against the eventual Western Division Champion Minnesota Twins. The club finished with a 69-93 record in its initial season. The mark was the best of the four expansion teams debuting in 1969. A young and fiery outfielder named Lou Piniella was selected as the the Rookie of the Year.
In just their third year of existence, the Royals post their first winning season and finish in second place in the Western Division. At the time, it was the quickest an expansion team had achieved such success.
The Royals move into brand new Royals Stadium. The stadium's prominent features include water fountains beyond the outfield fence and a 10-story high scoreboard shaped like the Royals crest, topped by a gold crown. That first year the Royals also host the All-Star Game, which is won by the National League, 7-1. The new stadium features an artificial surface, and Royals management begins to build a team around speed and pitching -- a move that would pay off in a short period of time. The year also sees the debut of a young third baseman named George Brett, who would become the centerpiece of Royals baseball for the next 20 years.
With a team built around developing players like Brett, Frank White, Willie Wilson and Dennis Leonard, the Royals put together a solid nucleus that will stay together and remain mostly intact for the next decade. The Royals begin to make strides towards becoming one of the top teams in all of baseball. Whitey Herzog replaces Jack McKeon as manager in 1975 after the Royals get off to a slow start. The move pays off as the Royals win 91 games and finish in seconnd place behind the Oakland Athletics, who won the last of their five consecutive division titles.
With Herzog taking the reins from the start of the season, fans were optimistic that the Royals were ready to take the next step. Led by Brett, who wins his first batting crown, the Royals win 90 games and beat out the Athletics by three games to claim the first of three consecutive division titles.
In the American League Championship Series the Royals would be matched up against the New York Yankees. In the first postseason game played in Kansas City, the Royals were handcuffed by a pair of Brett errors and Catfish Hunter's dominating pitching. However, the Royals would bounce back in front of their home fans the next night as Paul Splittorff's 5 2/3 innings of scoreless relief enabled the Royals to tie the series at one game apiece heading to New York.
After losing Game 3, the Royals would bounce back to rough up Hunter in Game 4, sending the series to the fifth and deciding game. In Game 5 the Royals and Yankees would each score twice in the first inning. However, the Yankees would score two in the third and two in the sixth to take a 6-3 lead into the eighth inning. But the Royals would fight back as George Brett blasted a three-run homer down the right-field line off Yankees reliever Grant Jackson to tie the game.
Unfortunately for the Royals, the Yankees' Chris Chambliss would end the Royals' season with a leadoff, series-winning homer in the bottom of the ninth. The game would not end without some controversy, as Chambliss was unable to touch home plate after his home run because Yankee fans flooded the field to celebrate. The umpires told the Royals there was nothing they could do, and it was reported that Chambliss did eventually go out and touch home.
The Royals are even better in 1977 as they win 102 games to establish a new team record. The Royals as a team don't have any one individual putting up spectacular numbers; instead they have a solid unit. The Royals win their second consecutive division title and prepare to face the Yankees again in the ALCS.
In the ALCS the Royals get off to a fast start, blowing out the Yankees 7-2 in Game 1 at the Bronx. However, the New York wins Game 2, sending the series to Kansas City tied at a game apiece. In Game 3 the Royals, led by the hitting of Hal McRae and the pitching of Dennis Leonard, post a 6-2 victory to put the club one game away from their first World Series. However, the Yankees would bounce back behind the relief efforts of Sparky Lyle to force a fifth and deciding game. In Game 5 the Royals took a one-run lead to the ninth inning, but the Yankees scored three times, beating the Royals for the second year in a row.
For the third year in a row the Royals win the Western Division title. In the ALCS, the Royals face the Yankees for the third straight time. The Yankees take Game 1 behind the hitting of Reggie Jackson, two-hit pitching of Jim Beattie and Ken Clay. The Royals take Game 2 to even the series at 1-1. For the third year in a row, the series would be tied after two games. In Game 3, behind three home runs by George Brett, the Royals would lead 5-4 into the eighth inning of a back and forth affair in the Bronx. This time, it was a two-run homer by the late Thurman Munson that would doom the Royals. The next night the Royals would only manage one run on seven hits as they failed to reach the World Series for the third consecutive season.
The Royals struggled, winning just 85 games. However, they manage stay in the race until the final week of the season, finishing three games behind the California Angels. After the season, the Royals change managers, replacing the popular Whitey Herzog with Jim Frey and setting the stage for the Royals' first-ever trip to the World Series.
October 27, 1985: Kansas City celebrated its first World Series title with an 11-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Royals Stadium. Bret Saberhagen tossed a five-hitter to cap off one of the greatest comebacks in World Series history. The Royals rallied from a three games to one deficit to win the championship.
The Royals reached the top of the baseball world with a trip to their first World Series in 1980 and the organization's first World Championship in 1985. After finishing second in the American League West in 1979, the Royals rebounded to win the division title for the fourth time in five years.
The baseball world followed George Brett's pursuit of .400, as the slugger finished with a .390 average. Kansas City vanquished the rival New York Yankees on Brett's dramatic home run off of Goose Gossage at Yankee Stadium, which propelled the Royals into their first World Series. The Royals fell to the Philadelphia Phillies in six games.
Kansas City won the World Series against cross-state rival St. Louis in 1985, after coming back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-1. Series MVP Bret Saberhagen tossed a five-hit shutout as the Royals bombed St. Louis, 11-0 in the seventh and deciding game.
The organization suffered a devastating loss with the death of its popular manager, Dick Howser, who had guided the team to its first world championship.
The 80s saw the Royals make two World Series appearances, win their first Series title, capture three playoff berths and produce and acquire outstanding baseball talent. Bo Jackson, Saberhagen, Mark Gubicza and Kevin Seitzer emerged as Kansas City's new wave of stars.
The 1990s were bittersweet for the Royals and their fans. Kansas City saw the end of the careers of three of the club's legends.
George Brett won his third batting title and broke the 3,000-hit barrier before retiring in 1993. Frank White retired as baseball's premier second baseman, after winning eight Gold Gloves. Speedster Willie Wilson's career concluded with the Cubs, but he left as the Royals all-time stolen base king.
Sadly, Kansas City mourned the losses of owners Ewing and Muriel Kauffman, who brought excitement and success to baseball in Kansas City. The heartbreaking loss of legendary reliever Dan Quisenberry to cancer was another emotional hurdle for longtime fans of the club.
The city did celebrate the induction of Brett into baseball's Hall of Fame in 1999, with special events and honors for the hometown hero throughout the season.
While the 1990s presented many struggles on the field, fans got to see a glimpse of the future with the development of Mike Sweeney and 1999 Rookie of the Year Carlos Beltran.
Glass Family Purchases Royals: The Royals established club records in runs scored (879), hits (1,644) and team batting average (.288) in 2000. Despite the offensive firepower, the Royals finished in fourth place, 18 games behind A.L. Central champion Chicago. The Royals started the season with an 8-3 record, but by the All-Star break had fallen to 39-46 and 15 games out of first. The club had a 38-39 record in the second half, only three games behind Chicago's second half mark. The Royals hit total led the American League while only Cleveland had a higher team batting average. KC also showed their speed on the bases as they had 121 thefts, while only being caught 35 times for a 78 percent success rate, the best in the league.
Player of Year: Mike Sweeney put up MVP-type numbers, posting career-bests in average (.333), hits (206), home runs (29) and RBI (144). His RBI total set a Royals single-season mark, breaking Hal McRae's record of 133 in 1982. The 144 RBI were second-best in the league behind Seattle's Edgar Martinez. Sweeney became the first American League player to hit at least .330 with 200 hits and 140 RBI since Al Rosen in 1953 with Cleveland. Sweeney also earned his first All-Star selection as he was named as a reserve for the game in Atlanta.
Pitcher of Year: Jeff Suppan was the only pitcher on the Kansas City staff to post double-digit wins, as he logged a 10-9 record with a 4.90 ERA in 35 games (33 starts). He led the club with a career-high 217 innings pitched and three complete games.
Beltran Makes His Mark: The Royals tied the franchise record with 97 losses as they finished in fifth place in the A.L. Central, 26 games behind the division champion Cleveland Indians. The last place finish was the first for KC since 1997 and its seventh straight losing season. Prior to this stretch, the club had only logged back-to-back losing seasons in the first two years of the franchise (1969 and 1970). Another slow start doomed the season from the beginning as the Royals stood at 7-15 and 9.5 games out of first by April 27. The club had a 34-53 record at the break (21 games out) and fell to a season-low 35 games under .500 on September 25.
Player of Year: Carlos Beltran was named the Royals Player of the Year after leading the club with a .306 average, 106 runs, 101 RBI and 31 stolen bases. He became the youngest player to win the award since George Brett in 1975 and 1976 at the ages of 22 and 23. He ranked among the American League leaders in 11 offensive categories as well as outfield assists (T2nd) and led the league in stolen base percentage, going 31-for-32 (.969). He earned back-to-back Royals Player of the Month honors in August and September.
Pitcher of Year: Jeff Suppan won his second consecutive Pitcher of the Year Award, posting a 10-14 record with a 4.37 ERA in 34 starts. Suppan led the Royals in wins, innings pitched (218.1) and strikeouts (120). He was also the Royals Opening Day starter for the second straight year.
Byrd Soars In Disappointing Year: Kansas City finished 62-100, marking the first 100-loss season in franchise history. The Royals were one of four teams to lose 100 games in 2002, joining Tampa Bay, Milwaukee and Detroit, marking the first time in Major League history that four teams lost 100 or more games. The Royals opened the season with an 8-15 record before firing Manager Tony Muser on April 29. John Mizerock was named the interim manager and went 5-8 before Tony Pena took over a 13-23 club that was eight games out of first on May 15. Pena led the club to a 49-77 mark that included five losing streaks of six games or more, including two eight-game losing streaks.
Player of Year: Mike Sweeney was named an All-Star for the third straight season and earned his second Royals Player of the Year Award as he turned in one the best seasons of his career. Sweeney posted a .340 batting average, the second highest in the American League in 2002 and the second highest in club history (Brett, .390 in 1980). He was in the batting race until the final weekend of the season, before falling to Boston's Manny Ramirez (.349). He also led the Royals in slugging percentage (.563) and on-base percentage (.417).
Pitcher of Year: In his only full season with the Royals, Paul Byrd led the pitching staff with 17 wins, 228.1 innings pitched and 129 strikeouts and tied for the club lead with 33 starts. He also led the American League with seven complete games, which included two shutouts. Following the season, he elected free agency and signed with the Atlanta Braves.
Pena Leads Royals Turnaround: The 2003 season was a magical season for the Royals as the club posted its first winning record since 1994 and stayed in the pennant race until the final two weeks of the season. KC's season marked the sixth-best turnaround after a 100-loss season in Major League history (21 games). The Royals opened the season with a franchise-best 9-0 record and went 11-0 to start the home campaign, the second-best home start in Major League history (1911, Detroit, 12-0). KC continued its great play opening 16-3 and by the All-Star break, the Royals were 51-41 with a seven-game lead in the A.L. Central. The Royals spent 93 games in first place or tied for first during the season. After the break, injuries to the pitching staff took its toll, as the Royals fell out of first place for the final time on August 31.
Player of Year: Carlos Beltran won his second Royals Player of the Year Award after leading the club with a .307 average, 102 runs, 10 triples, 26 home runs, 100 RBI, 72 walks and 41 stolen bases. He became the first Royal and 23rd player (41st time) in Major League history to record a 20 home run/40 stolen base season.
Pitcher of Year: Darrell May was named the Royals Pitcher of the Year after registering a 10-8 record with a 3.77 ERA. He set personal bests in wins, games (35), starts (32), innings pitched (210.0), strikeouts (115) and ERA
Rookies Take Club Awards: Kansas City finished the 2004 campaign with a 58-104 record, marking its worst record in club history and second 100-loss season in three years. The season looked like it was going to be a repeat of the 2003 season as the Royals defeated Chicago, 9-7, on Opening Day. Carlos Beltran hit the first walk-off home run in Royals Opening Day history in the ninth inning after Mendy Lopez had hit a game-tying three-run homer earlier in the inning. The crowd of 41,575 was the largest in Royals Opening Day history and the third largest in Kauffman Stadium history. Unfortunately, the Royals lost 20 of their first 28 games to fall 8.5 games out of first by May 8. KC became just the second club in Major League history to lose 100 games, post a winning season the following year, and then lose 100 games the next season.
Player of Year: David DeJesus became just the second rookie (Bob Hamelin, 1994) to win the Royals Player of the Year Award after hitting .287 in 96 games with 15 doubles, three triples, seven home runs and 39 RBI. He was named the Royals Player of the Month in August and led the club in nearly every offensive category following the All-Star break.
Pitcher of Year: Zack Greinke was also the second rookie pitcher (Dennis Leonard, 1975) to earn the Royals Pitcher of the Year Award as he logged an impressive debut season in Kansas City. The 20-year old right hander registered an 8-11 campaign with a 3.97 ERA in 24 games for KC. He made his Major League debut on May 22 at Oakland and picked up his first win on June 8 vs. Montreal. He was the youngest active player in the Major Leagues upon his debut and the third youngest pitcher to start a game for the Royals, trailing only Bret Saberhagen and Mark Littell.
Bell Looks To Brighter Future: The Royals suffered their third 100-loss season in four years as they finished with a franchise-worst 56-106 record. Once again, the Royals were out of the division race early as they stood 8-25 and 17 games out of first on May 10. The slow start prompted the resignation of Manager Tony Pena, who was replaced by interim Manager Bob Schaefer. He led the Royals to a 5-12 record before the hiring of Buddy Bell on May 31. Bell won his first four games as the skipper and swept the Yankees and Dodgers in three-game series in his first two weeks on the job. The Royals could not sustain that pace though as they finished a club-record 43 games out of first. The Royals also recorded their longest losing streak in club history, a 19-game streak from July 28-August 19. The 2005 campaign was the first time in team history the Royals completed a season with the worst record in the Majors.
Player of Year: Mike Sweeney had another banner year for the Royals and was named the Royals Player of the Year for the third time. Sweeney was also named to his fifth All-Star team, joining George Brett (13), Amos Otis (5) and Frank White (5) as the only Royals players to make five or more All-Star appearances. Sweeney led the team in batting average (.300), doubles (39) and home runs (21), despite playing in only 122 games due to nagging injuries. He was also honored with the Players Choice Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award, given to the player in either league whose on-field performance and contributions to his community inspire others to higher levels of achievement.
Pitcher of Year: Mike MacDougal won the Royals Pitcher of the Year Award for the first time in his career after going 5-6 with 21 saves and a 3.33 ERA. He posted career highs in wins, innings pitched (70.1) and ERA, while tying his career-high with 68 appearances. He was named the Royals Pitcher of the Month in July and for September/October.
New GM Moore: The 2006 season was one of change, as the Royals hired Dayton Moore, who assumed the duties of General Manager on June 8. Moore made a series of moves to reshape both the roster and the front office. On the field, the Royals could not avoid their fourth 100-loss season in five years as they finished 62-100. An 11-game losing streak in April and a 13-game drought in May pushed the club to a 16-47 mark through June 13. The team regrouped to post a 46-53 record the remainder of the season.
Player of Year: Mark Teahen was named the Royals Player of the Year after a breakout sophomore season. Teahen struggled early with a .195 average that resulted in a demotion to Omaha on May 5. He recovered to finish the season at .290 with a team-leading 18 home runs, 69 RBI, 10 stolen bases and seven triples in only 109 games. Teahen posted .517 slugging pct. 2006 after recording just a .376 pct. in 2005. That .141 increase was second-highest in baseball and a Royals record for a player between their rookie and second seasons. His .874 on-base-plus-slugging pct. was second among all A.L. third basemen.
Pitcher of Year: Mark Redman returned from knee surgery in Spring Training to post a team-leading 11 wins. Redman won six-straight decisions from June 4th to July 6th, earning his first trip to the All-Star Game in July. He threw two complete games, including a 2-0 shutout of Minnesota on August 29th. His 11 wins were the most by a Royals lefty since 1988 (Charlie Liebrandt, 13, and Floyd Bannister, 12).
Rookies debut: After almost three years as manager, Buddy Bell announced on Aug. 1 that he would step aside when the season ended. He'd had a bout with cancer at the end of 2006 and wanted to scale back. The Royals finished last in the AL Central for the fourth straight year but avoided 100 losses, posting a 69-93 record and landed 27 games behind first-place Cleveland. After an 8-18 start, the Royals improved to 51-49 over the next 100 games but they faded back to fifth place in September. The pitching staff made dramatic improvements, going from dead last to seventh with a team ERA of 4.48. But scoring runs continued to be a problem and they were second to last in the league. Several rookies made their debuts including Billy Butler, Alex Gordon and Joakim Soria. Starter Brian Bannister's staff-best 12 wins put him in contention for AL Rookie of the Year. In his final KC season, team captain Mike Sweeney again battled injuries and played just 74 games.
Player of Year: Second baseman Mark Grudzielanek batted .302 as overcame two surgeries on his left knee, one in Spring Training and another on June 15. Determinedly, he toughed it out and played 116 games. In July he returned to bat .429 for the month and in his final 64 games he hit .332. Grudzielanek also continued his excellent defense work with just six errors.
Pitcher of Year: Right-hander Gil Meche signed a five-year, $55-million contract and gave the staff solid leadership. His record was just 9-13 but he notched a fine 3.67 ERA, best by a starter since Kevin Appier's 3.40 in 1997. Meche suffered from the worst run support in the AL but pitched a career-high 218 innings. He was the Royals' representative at the All-Star Game.
Coming of Trey: After a successful five-year stay in the Japan League, Trey Hillman was hired to beome the Royals' 15th full-time manager. Also a former manager in the Yankees' farm system, this was his first Major League job. Hillman got the Royals out of the last place for the first time since 2003. The club finished with a rush, notching an 18-8 record in September — the most victories in any month since July 1994. There was also a promising start, with a three-game sweep at Detroit over the powerful Tigers. However, after reaching first place with an 8-5 mark on April 14, things bogged down. A 12-game losing streak May 19-30 was devastating and the team never really recovered despite winning 12 of 14 games in a June stretch. Despite hitting for a higher average, the Royals scored fewer runs (691) than in 2007. Newcomer Jose Guillen led the club with 20 home runs and 97 RBIs. Gil Meche was 14 games, most since Paul Byrd's 17 in 2002, and Zack Greinke won 13. Mark Grudzielanek reached the 2,000-hit milestone and David DeJesus led the Majors with a .419 average with runners in scoring position.
Player of Year: Rookie shortstop Mike Aviles wasn't called up until late May but he soon made his presence felt. He led all Major League rookies with a .325 average and the mark was the highest ever for a Royals rookie. Aviles also socked 10 homers, had 51 RBIs and played well defensively. After he became the regular shortstop on June 6, the team had a 52-50 record.
Pitcher of Year: Joakim Soria, in his second full season, established himself as one of the game's top closers. He had 42 saves in 45 opportunities and a 1.60 ERA, holding opponents to a .170 average. He opened the season with 16 1/3 scoreless innings as well was 13 straight saves, a club record. For the first time since the heyday of Jeff Montgomery a decade before, he gave the Royals a feeling of ninth-inning invincibility.
Zack Racks Up K's at "The New K": 2009 opened with a re-dedicated Kauffman Stadium, which had undergone a $250 million renovation. Kansas City started on a roll, building an 18-11 mark and a 3.0 game lead in the A.L. Central through May 7. The Royals then struggled to a 33-74 mark over their next 107 games before rebounding by winning 14 of their final 26 contests. The ups and downs the ballclub were in direct contrast to the steady performance of two emerging stars. Pitcher Zack Greinke was dominant from start to finish and Billy Butler became an offensive force in the middle of the lineup. Both players set records and energized Kansas City fans who filled "The New K" during the Royals' 40th Anniversary season.
Player of Year: Billy Butler earned his first Royals Player of the Year award after a breakout season. Butler led the club with a .301 average and 93 RBI while finishing second with 21 home runs. His 51 doubles on the year placed him second in franchise history behind Hal McRae, who had 54 in 1977. Butler became the fifth player in Major League history to have at least 50 doubles and 20 home runs in a season prior to the age of 24. He also became the first player in modern history to record four 3-double games in the same season. Butler was named A.L. Player of the Month for September after leading the league in RBI.
Pitcher of Year: Zack Greinke became the third Royal to win the American League Cy Young Award, joining Bret Saberhagen (1985, 1989) and David Cone (1994). Greinke finished 16-8 with a Major League-leading 2.16 ERA as he captured his second Royals Pitcher of the Year award. The 25-year-old righty made his first All-Star appearance and fanned 242 batters on the year, second-most in franchise history. Greinke was nearly unhittable at the outset as he posted a 5-0 record in April to earn A.L. Pitcher of the Month honors. Dating to 2008, Greinke tossed 43.0 consecutive innings without an earned run allowed, a franchise mark. Zack struck out 15 Cleveland batters on August 25 to set a new franchise record.
Prospects Earn Top Billing: The Royals finished 67-95 in 2010, finishing last in the A.L. Central. Ned Yost replaced Trey Hillman as manager on May 13. Yost later signed an extension through 2012. The Royals played close contests throughout the year, participating in 87 games within two runs or less, including a league-leading 57 one-run games. Pitcher Bruce Chen capped a magical comeback campaign by leading the staff with 12 wins. Chen, who began the season as a non-roster invite, finished in style with his first career shutout on October 1 against the Tampa Bay Rays. A big year for the Kansas City minor league system was recognized in the offseason as Baseball America gave the Royals' system top billing among all 30 clubs.
Player of Year: Billy Butler joined George Brett (1975-76 and 1979-80) as the only player in franchise history to win back-to-back Player of the Year honors. Butler batted .318 with 45 doubles, 15 home runs and 78 RBI in 158 games. He ranked in the top 10 in the American League in batting (6th), hits (T3rd, 189), doubles (T4th), multi-hit games (4th, 54) and on-base percentage (7th, .388). His final average was the highest among qualifying Kansas City players since Mike Sweeney hit .340 in 2002.
Pitcher of Year: Joakim Soria posted one of the greatest seasons by a reliever in franchise history, going 1-2 with a career-high 43 saves in 46 opportunities as he earned his second All-Star nod. He compiled a 1.78 ERA in 66 appearances, striking out 71 and walking just 16 in 65.2 innings. Soria finished the season two saves behind the club mark of 45 shared by Dan Quisenberry (1983) and Jeff Montgomery (1993). The 43 saves also were two shy of A.L. leader Rafael Soriano of Tampa Bay. Soria set a new club record for relievers with 23.2 consecutive shutout innings (spanning 24 appearances). He converted a club-record 36 saves in a row prior to blowing a chance on October 3. The 36 saves shattered the mark of 24 saves in a row that was held by Jeff Montgomery from May 25-August 9, 1993.
Rookies Make Their Way To KC: This seemed to be the year in which most of the decade's top-rated prospects reached the Show. Rookie reliever Aaron Crow's great start made him the Royals' lone All-Star at Phoenix. Much-heralded first baseman Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas, catcher Salvador Perez and second baseman Johnny Giavotella were called up in-season to become regulars. Left-hander Danny Duffy cracked the rotation. Greg Holland, also a rookie, became dominant in the bullpen. Twelve players made their Major League debuts and, in all, 16 Royals were classified as rookies during the season. Left fielder Alex Gordon had a breakout season and the other two outfield regulars who were signed as free agents, Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur, also had big years at bat. The outfielders recorded 51 assists and the improved defense also featured shortstop Alcides Escobar, obtained in the offseason deal that sent pitcher Zack Greinke to Milwaukee. Despite being 20 games under .500, the team finished strong and eased into the fourth place in the AL Central.
Player of Year: For four years, Alex Gordon never quite fulfilled the expectations raised by his No. 2 overall pick in the 2005 Draft. But after overcoming medical issues, changing positions from third to the outfield and altering his swing a bit, Gordon had a smashing season: .303, 23 homers, 45 doubles, 87 RBIs and a Gold Glove in his first full season in left field. He also scored 101 runs, swiped 17 bases and had a 19-game hitting streak.
Pitcher of Year: Left-hander Bruce Chen led the Royals in victories for the second straight season with a 12-8 record. He also posted a 3.77 ERA in his 25 starts, picking up steam after missing six weeks in May and June with a lat strain. Chen closed the season strong with a 6-3 record and 2.93 in his last 10 starts. Although he became a free agent, the Royals brought him back with a two-year contract for 2012-13.
All-Star Game takes center stage: Kansas City had been without an All-Star Game since 1973, the year Kauffman Stadium opened, but the refurbished showplace got the Midsummer Classic on July 10. The city came to life with the All-Star FanFest, Futures Game, a fund-raising run/walk, a celebrity softball game, the Home Run Derby and several other related events. Then the National League All-Stars dispatched the American League, 8-0, at a jam-packed stadium. The Royals finished their season by moving up a notch to third place in the AL Central and this time just 16 games behind first-place Detroit, an improvement of eight games over 2011 despite posting just one more victory. Elbow surgery took closer Joakim Soria and starting pitchers Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino out early and knee surgery cost catcher Salvador Perez most of the first half. Billy Butler had a big year at bat and Alex Gordon won his second straight Gold Glove in left field. Shortstop Alcides Escobar was brilliant in the field and emerged as a dangerous hitter. Bruce Chen led the pitching staff in wins (11) for the third straight year.
Player of the Year: Billy Butler wasn't quite up to Miguel Cabrera's Triple Crown numbers for Detroit but he led the Royals in all the Triple Crown categories with a .313 average, 29 home runs and 107 RBIs. That was the most homers by a Royal since Jermaine Dye's 33 in 2000. Butler was clutch - 10 of his homers came in the eighth inning or later, six to either tie the score or go ahead. Fittingly, he was the Royals' only All-Star player.
Pitcher of the Year: Greg Holland, a no-nonsense, hard-throwing right-hander, was thrust into a crucial role in the second half and came through. With Joakim Soria out for the year with Tommy John surgery, newcomer Jonathan Broxton took over until he was traded to the Reds at midseason. Holland filled the vacancy quite ably and finished with 16 saves, a 7-4 record and a 2.96 ERA. He also piled up 91 strikeouts in 67 innings.
It was streaky, with tough losses and exhilarating highs, but the 2013 season turned out to be the Royals' best since 1989. They won 86 games to finish 10 games over .500, making a spirited bid for a Wild Card spot thanks to an A.L.-best 43-27 mark after the All-Star Break. The Royals finished third in the A.L. Central, seven games out of first place. Pitching and defense were the strong points. James Shields went 13-9 with a 3.15 ERA, Jeremy Guthrie had a team-best 15 victories and Ervin Santana posted a 3.24 ERA. Closer Greg Holland had 47 saves and a 1.21 ERA to lead a strong bullpen that had a collective 2.55 ERA, best in franchise history. Overall, the Royals' staff led the A.L. with a 3.45 ERA, the team's best since 1978. The defense had a team-record three Rawlings Gold Glove winners - left fielder Alex Gordon, first baseman Eric Hosmer and catcher Salvador Perez. Shortstop Alcides Escobar and center fielder Lorenzo Cain received Gold Glove nominations while Wilson Sporting Goods named the Royals co-American League Defensive Team of the Year. Hosmer posted his first season with a .300+ batting average, adding 17 homers and 79 RBIs. Gordon had 20 home runs and 81 RBIs, one shy of team leader Billy Butler's 82. The team led the Majors in stolen bases with 153. Three All-Stars - Gordon, Perez and Holland - were the Royals' most since 1988.
Player of the Year: Eric Hosmer won his first Royals Player of the Year Award, recording career highs in average, hits, doubles and RBI. Hosmer, who turned 24 after the season, became the first Royals first baseman to win a Rawlings Gold Glove. He finished seventh in the A.L. in hits (188) and ninth in batting average (.302), with his 156 hits after May 19 leading the Major Leagues. Hosmer's 60 multi-hit games tied for fifth-most in franchise history.
Pitcher of the Year: Greg Holland may have posted the most dominant season by a KC reliever, winning his second straight Royals Pitcher of the Year honor. An All-Star for the first time, Holland set a new single-season franchise record with 47 saves, two more than Royals Hall of Famers Dan Quisenberry (1983) and Jeff Montgomery (1993). Holland's 1.21 ERA also set a franchise record for a reliever, eclipsing Montgomery's 1.37 mark in 1989. The right-hander struck out 103, leading A.L. relievers and matching a Royals record.
Right before the a July 22nd game against the White Sox, the struggling Royals, eight games out of first at the time, held a players-only meeting. Grievances were aired, and players pledged accountability to each other. Suddenly, the Royals won 26 of their next 34 games, vaulting into first place. A mid-September stumble cost the Royals’ the AL Central title, but they clinched their first postseason berth since 1985 with a 3-1 win over the White Sox on Sept. 26. And that first playoff game was one for the ages – a crazy 9-8, 12-inning victory over the Oakland A’s at Kauffman Stadium in the Wild Card Game. The Royals continued their magical ride by upsetting the Angels on the road twice – both in extra innings – in the ALDS. The Royals finished off the sweep at home. The Royals then pulled off yet another sweep in the ALCS over the Orioles, thus becoming the first team in history to open the post-season with eight straight wins. The magic finally ended in the Worlds Series. Alex Gordon, representing the tying run, was stranded on third in the bottom of the ninth of Game 7 as Salvador Perez – the hero in the Wild Card Game – popped out in a 3-2 loss as the Giants went on to claim the World Series in seven electric games.
The Royals entered the 2015 season with high expectations after pushing the Giants all the way to Game 7 in the 2014 World Series. Off-season additions such as right-handers Chris Young and Edinson Volquez, designated hitter Kendrys Morales, and reliever Ryan Madson gave the Royals even more talent and depth than they had in 2014. Third baseman Mike Moustakas (.284, 22 homers, 82 RBIs) enjoyed a career year, as did center fielder Lorenzo Cain (.307, 16 homers, 72 RBIs, 28 steals). The Royals placed seven players on the All-Star team – shortstop Alcides Escobar, left fielder Alex Gordon (he was injured), catcher Salvador Perez, center fielder Lorenzo Cain, third baseman Mike Moustakas, and pitchers Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera. Trade Deadline deals for right-hander Johnny Cueto and super utility man Ben Zobrist further strengthened the roster. The Royals dominated the AL Central, bursting to a 14.5-game lead by mid-August. The Royals stumbled a bit in September but clinched the division on Sept. 24 with a 10-4 thumping of the Mariners. Down 2-1 in the ALDS to the Astros, the Royals trailed 6-2 in the eighth inning before erupting for five runs on their way to a 9-6 win. They then beat the Astros in Game 5 to advance to the ALCS against the Jays, whom they knocked off in six games. The Royals made it back-to-back World Series appearances for the first time in franchise history and dispatched the Mets in five games, the last win coming 7-2 in 12 innings. It was their first title in 30 years. Perez was the World Series MVP.
The Royals entered 2016 as the defending World Series champions and primed to reach their third straight Fall Classic. But injuries and overall fatigue derailed the champions, and despite a valiant surge in August to sneak into post-season contention, they fell back in September and finished at 81-81 for the first time in franchise history. On the positive side, they did finish .500 or above for the fourth straight season, not done in franchise history since the Royals did so from 1975 through 1980.
The Royals lost third baseman Mike Moustakas and left fielder Alex Gordon to injury after a gruesome collision in Chicago while they were chasing a foul ball. Moustakas was lost for the season with a knee injury and Gordon missed over a month with a wrist injury. That was a prelude of many more injuries to come in 2016 as outfielder Lorenzo Cain, catcher Salvador Perez, relievers Luke Hochevar and Wade Davis all were shelved due to injuries. Cain essentially missed most of the final five weeks with a hand injury and Hochevar was lost for the final two months after undergoing Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery. Still, the Royals were a resilient bunch. They tied for the Major League lead with 15 come-from-behind wins after the sixth inning. None was more dramatic than their win at home against the White Sox on May 28 when they trailed 7-1 entering the ninth. Rookie Brett Eibner capped a wild seven-run rally with a walk-off RBI single and the Royals had their largest ninth-inning comeback in franchise history. Cain also had a memorable May - his three-homer game at Yankee Stadium on May 10 was the ninth in franchise history.
After a sluggish start, designated hitter Kendrys Morales became a beast from the end of May on, and he was named American League Player of the Week twice (July 3 and September 11) - the first Royal to do so. He finished with 30 homers and 93 RBIs and became the first Royal since Jermaine Dye in 2000 to hit 30 or more homers. For the fourth straight season, the Royals had multiple All-Stars as Perez, Hosmer, Davis and reliever Kelvin Herrera were picked to represent the American League. Hosmer had a night to remember, hitting a home run (as did Perez) and bringing home the game's Most Valuable Player award. Hosmer put forth a career year in some fashions, posting personal bests in home runs (25) and RBIs (104). Perez's All-Star appearance added to his yearly acclaims - he also won his fourth straight Gold Glove.
Hanging on the edge of contention, the Royals surged in August, posting a 20-9 record. Left-hander Danny Duffy (12-3, 3.51 ERA) emerged as the team's ace and had a memorable day at Tampa on August 1 at Tropicana Field when he struck out 16 hitters, eclipsing the franchise mark of 15 held by Zack Greinke. The excitement of August soon faded in September, though, and the Royals' post-season took an insurmountable blow when they were swept in four games at home by Oakland. Royals manager Ned Yost did manage a personal milestone, grabbing his 1,000th career win as a skipper with a 3-2 win over the White Sox. And there still was some hope for a winning season, but alas, those hopes were dashed when the Royals were swept in three games at home by the American League champion Indians to conclude the season.