Top 10 Best Kansas City Royals Players of All Time
The Kansas City Royals are one of the older expansion franchises in Major League Baseball (MLB), having been established in 1969. Since that first season, the Royals have won two World Series titles, one in 1985 and one in 2015. Plenty of talented players have helped the Royals to all of their success over the years. Read on to learn more about the top 10 best Kansas City Royals players of all time.
Who Are the Best Kansas City Royals Baseball Players of All Time?
- George Brett
- Amos Otis
- Kevin Appier
- Willie Wilson
- Frank White
- Mark Gubicza
- Bret Saberhagen
- Hal McRae
- Salvador Perez
- Alex Gordon
1. George Brett
- 1980 American League MVP
- 13-time All-Star (1976-1988)
- Three-time Silver Slugger (1980, 1986, 1988)
- Three-time AL Batting Champion (1976, 1980, 1990)
George Brett is by far the most exceptional Kansas City Royals player of all time. Brett played all 21 of his major league seasons for the Royals from 1973-1993. In those 21 years, Brett was selected to the All-Star team thirteen times (1976-1988), three Silver Slugger awards (1980, 1985, 1988), a 1985 Gold Glove award, and the 1980 American League MVP award. Brett also was the AL Batting champion on three occasions (1976, 1980, 1990).
On the Royals all-time leaderboards, Brett is number one in numerous categories, including hits (3,154), home runs (317), doubles (665), WAR (88.6), runs scored (1,583), triples (137), and RBIs (1,596). In the 1985 World Series, Brett was at his best, recording ten hits while hitting three home runs and driving in five. Unsurprisingly, Brett was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999.
2. Amos Otis
- Five-time All-Star (1970-1973, 1976)
- Three Gold Glove Awards (1971, 1973, 1974)
- Finished Top Ten In The MVP Voting Three Times (1971, 1973, 1976)
A teammate of George Brett’s for several years, Amos Otis was extremely talented in his own right. After playing two years with the New York Mets, Amos played fourteen years with the Royals from 1970-1983. During that time period, Otis would make the All Star team five times (1970-1973, 1976), and win three Gold Glove awards (1971, 1973, 1974). He also finished in the top ten in MVP voting three times in 1971, 1973, and 1976.
In terms of his all-time Royals ranks, Otis ranks second in runs scored (1,074), third in hits (1,074), fourth in doubles (365), second in WAR (44.8), third in triples (65), and fourth in home runs (193). While Otis did leave the team a couple years before they won the World Series, he still had plenty of individual postseason success with the team. In 22 games, Otis batted .295 with three home runs and eleven RBIs.
3. Kevin Appier
- 1995 All-Star Selection
- MLB Era Leader in 1993
- Third in Al Cy Young Voting In 1993
Kevin Appier was an outstanding pitcher for Kansas City during the 1990s. Appier made mis major league debut with the club in 1989 and went on to pitch eleven seasons with them from 1989-1999. He would return to KC for the final two seasons of his career in 2003 and 2004. In 1993, Appier had his best season with the club, leading the American League in ERA at 2.56 and finishing third in the AL Cy Young voting ballot. Surprisingly, Appier did not make the All-Star team that season, making his lone appearance in the game in 1995.
In terms of his all-time pitching ranks with Kansas City, Appier has the most strikeouts (1,458), the most WAR (47.1), the fourth most wins (115), the fourth most innings pitched (1,843 ⅔), and the seventh most complete game shutouts (10). While his career may not have gotten as much attention nationally, Appier had an outstanding career in Kansas City.
4. Willie Wilson
- Two-time All-Star (1982, 1983)
- Two Silver Slugger Awards (1980, 1982)
- 1980 Gold Glove Award Winner
One of the greatest speedsters in franchise history, Willie Wilson is the fourth-best Royals player of all time. Another 1985 World Series champion, Wilson was a member of the Royals from 1976-1990. He would make two All-Star teams (1982 and 1983), win two silver slugger awards (1980 and 1982), and a 1980 Gold Glove award in those fifteen seasons. His 1980 season was outstanding, as he led the American League in runs (133), hits, (230) and triples (15).
Additionally, Wilson is the Royals all-time leader in stolen bases (612), second in triples (133), fourth in hits (1,968), third in WAR (42.5), third in runs scored (1,060), and eighth in doubles (241). In the 1985 World Series, Wilson registered eleven hits while scoring two runs and stealing three bases. Similar to Appier, Wilson’s career was not as well known by the national audience, but he will not be forgotten by those in Kansas City.
5. Frank White
- Five-time All-Star (1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1986)
- Eight Gold Glove Awards (1977-1982, 1986, 1987)
- 1986 Silver Slugger Award
Frank White was a phenomenal defender and hitter for the Royals in the 1970s and 80s. White is the third member of the 1985 championship team, playing all eighteen of his MLB seasons in Kansas City from 1973-1990. A terrific defensive player, White won eight Gold Gloves (1977-1982, 1986, 1987) in addition to making five All-Star teams (1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1986) and winning a 1986 Silver Slugger award. His 1986 season was certainly his best season, when he won the Gold Glove, Silver Slugger award, and made the All-Star team while batting .272 with 22 home runs and 84 RBIs.
On the all-time leaderboards in Kansas City, White is second in hits (2,006), third in doubles (407), fourth in runs scored (912), fourth in WAR (34.8), third in total bases (3,009), fourth in RBIs (886), and sixth in stolen bases (178). In the 1985 Fall Classic, White recorded seven hits, hit one home run, and drove in six runs.
6. Mark Gubicza
- Two-time All-Star (1988, 1989)
- 1985 World Series Champion
- 2006 Royals Hall of Fame Inductee
Gubicza was one of the younger members of the 1985 championship team, as he pitched with the team from 1984-1996. He also had his most outstanding two seasons with the Royals in back-to-back years in 1988 and 1989, when he made the All-Star team each year.
In franchise history, Gubicza is third in wins with 132, second in strikeouts with 1,366, second in innings pitched with 2,218 ⅔, third in WAR with 38, third in complete game shutouts with 16, and second in games started with 327. While Gubicza did not appear in the 1985 World Series, he did win 14 games that year during the regular season and was a key part in them reaching the Fall Classic. He did win the one game he started in the American League Championship Series.
7. Bret Saberhagen
- Two Cy Young Awards (1985, 1989)
- Two-time All-Star (1987, 1990)
- 1989 Gold Glove Award Winner
Possibly the most talented player to ever pitch for Kansas City, Bret Saberhagen only played eight seasons for the club. Those eight seasons came at the beginning of his career from 1984-1991. In those eight years, Saberhagen made the All-Star team twice in 1987 and 1990 and won two Cy Young awards in 1985 and 1989. He also managed to win a Gold Glove award in that 1989 season.
Moreover, Saberhagen racked up the fourth most strikeouts (1,093), sixth most wins (110), third most complete games (64), second most WAR (40.7), and the fourth most complete games shutouts (14). Saberhagen was at his best during the 1985 World Series, being named the MVP of the series. He won both games he started, throwing two complete games and one complete game shutout. He allowed eleven total hits and just one hit in 18 innings while striking out ten.
8. Hal McRae
- Three-time All-Star (1975, 1976, 1982)
- 1982 Silver Slugger Award
- MLB RBI Leader in 1982
Hal McRae was another great member of the 1985 championship team and had a very long career with the Royals. After a few years with the Cincinnati Reds, McRae played the final 15 seasons of his career with the Royals from 1973-1987. He would eventually make the All-Star team three times in 1975, 1976, and 1982 as well as win the 1982 Silver Slugger award. That 1982 season was his best, as he led all of baseball with 46 doubles and 133 RBIs.
He racked up the fifth most hits (1,924), the fifth most runs scored (873), the fourth most triples (63), the seventh most WAR (27.6), the second most doubles (449), and the sixth most home runs (169). While he only had three at bats in the 1985 World Series at his advanced age, he did play in 112 games that regular season, hitting 14 home runs and driving in 70 runs.
9. Salvador Perez
- Seven-time All-Star (2013-2018, 2021)
- Four Silver Slugger Awards (2016, 2018, 2020, 2021)
- Five Gold Glove Awards (2013-2016, 2018)
Salvador Perez has played the entirety of his career with Kansas City since making his debut in 2011. In those 12 seasons, Perez has made seven All-Star teams (2013-2018, 2021), won five Gold Glove Awards (2013-2016, 2018), and four Silver Slugger awards (2016, 2018, 2020, 2021).
As of the start of the 2023 season, he has the second most home runs in team history (223), the eighth most hits (1,254), the ninth most doubles (236), the sixth most WAR (32.3), the seventh most RBIs (732), and the eighth most total bases (2,201). In the 2015 World Series, Perez racked up eight hits and drove in two runs while scoring three times to win the MVP of the series. Certainly, Perez has a chance to move up the leaderboards before his career is over.
10. Alex Gordon
- Eight Gold Glove Awards (2011-2014, 2017-2020)
- Three-time All-Star (2013-2015)
- 2015 World Series Champion
Alex Gordon was Perez’s teammate on the 2015 championship team and was a legendary defender for the Royals. Gordon played all 14 of his MLB seasons from 2007-2020 in a Royals uniform. Another outstanding defender, Gordon won eight Gold Gloves in his fourteen years (2011-2014, 2017-2020), along with being voted onto three All-Star teams (2013-2015).
His 1,643 hits rank sixth in franchise history, as do his 867 runs scored. He also ranks fifth in a few other categories, such as home runs (190), WAR (34.5), doubles (357), and total bases (2,622). In the 2015 World Series, Gordon managed to record four hits, three runs scored, one double, one home run, and three RBIs. His home run came in the bottom of the ninth in Game 1 to tie the game, and the Royals went on to win in extra innings. Without that home run, the Royals would not have won Game 1 and possibly not the Series.
- Carlos Beltran
- Lorenzo Cain
- Zack Greinke
- Charlie Leibrandt
- Dennis Leonard
- John Mayberry
- Darrell Porter
- Kevin Seitzer
- Mike Sweeney
- Danny Tartabull
Who is the best Kansas City Royals player of all time?
While there have been some talented Kansas City Royals players over the years, George Brett is by far and away the greatest of them all. Brett is the Royals all-time leader in several offensive categories for the franchise including hits (3,154), home runs (317), doubles (665), WAR (88.6), runs scored (1,583), triples (137), and RBIs (1,596). He also won an MVP award in 1985, made thirteen All-Star teams (1976-1988), and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999.
Which Kansas City Royals player holds the record for most home runs?
The greatest player in franchise history, George Brett unsurprisingly holds the record for most career home runs. Brett hit 317 home runs during his 21-year career, meaning he hit an average of around 15 home runs per season. The most home runs he ever hit in a season was in 1985 when he hit 30 bombs. Just behind Brett on the list are Salvador Perez (223), Mike Sweeney (197), Amos Otis (193), and Alex Gordon (190).