I'm on the road all day today, so today's open thread is an all-day thread. Royals Review sends a hearty salute to all our veterans and active personnel out there who put their neck on the line to defend us from harm. So when you're out grilling this weekend, or boating on the lake, or watching Sean O'Sullivan get lit up, take a moment to reflect upon those that have sacrificed to make our lives better.
In honor of those that defend us, here is my All-Time Royals Defense team.
C Jim Sundburg
Sundburg was only here a brief time, and was past his prime, but he still had a reputation as a terrific defender and earned a lot of credit for handling a young pitching staff. Many consider him one of the best defensive catchers of the modern era. The Royals have not employed very many catchers with a sterling defensive reputation, although Jason Kendall is putting me in a headlock for typing that.
1B Wally Joyner
Doug Mientkiewicz might have gotten the nod here but I'll give it to Joyner since he was here longer. Wally was a smooth defender who was never flashy, but made all plays look routine. The mid-90s infield of Joyner, Chico Lind, Greg Gagne, and Gary Gaetti was quite likely the best defensive infield the Royals ever fielded. Ross Gload and Dave McCarty warrant mention as well.
2B Frank White
Who did you expect, Jose Offerman? Frank was without a doubt the second greatest defensive second baseman of all-time, behind only Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski. Frank was an eight-time Gold Glove winner, and probably should have won nine. The Royals have employed other solid defenders at second including Cookie Rojas, Chico Lind, and Mark Grudzielanek
3B Joe Randa
George Brett won a Gold Glove at the position, but it was more for his bat. Gary Gaetti and Paul Schaal were both able defenders as well, but it was Joe who was consistently a terrific third baseman in his days in Kansas City. A crowd favorite, Randa holds the franchise record for consecutive errorless games at third.
SS Greg Gagne
Alcides Escobar may one day make this list, but for now I'll have the steady Greg Gagne. Gagne was not nearly as flashy as Escobar, but he made all the routine plays. In 1993, he made just ten errors in 727 chances at shortstop. He was sure-handed and a great field general.
LF Willie Wilson
People tend to think of Willie as a centerfielder, but he did spend over 600 games in left-field for the Royals. He flanked Amos Otis, giving them a terrific defensive outfield, before finally replacing Otis in center. Johnny Damon spent some time in left, and Bo Jackson would make terrific defensive plays - and drop routine flyballs, but aside from that the team has generally not employed many great defensive left-fielders.
CF Amos Otis
Otis was a three-time Gold Glove winner and by all accounts won the awards by looking as smooth and effortless as a center-fielder could. Otis had terrific range and a strong arm, winning over Royals fans after his acquisition from the Mets. Carlos Beltran was also terrific defender, but A.O. was the best.
RF Jermaine Dye
Right-field is typically where teams hide bad defenders, and the Royals have been no exception over the years. Jermaine was a pretty lousy defender after his leg injury in Oakland, but earlier in his career he won a Gold Glove for his performance in Kansas City. He had an outstanding arm, and adequate range.
P Bret Saberhagen
I don't know to evaluate pitcher defense, but Saberhagen won a Gold Glove and was a former shortstop, so I suppose he was a good defender. Zack Greinke was pretty nimble off the mound as well.
Four Gold Glove Questions
1. What is your closest brush with death or at least serious bodily injury?
2. What is your favorite defensive baseball highlight?
3. How much do you trust modern defensive statistics?
4. What are your Memorial Weekend plans?