Like pretty much everyone who visits this site, I long for a September where we analyze the pitching matchups for a coming series and how it might effect who starts in Game One of a playoff series. The Royals, however, are not there yet and we are left with finding other means to make the final few weeks of another losing season interesting.
Here's one for you.
Alex Gordon currently has hit 46 doubles, which is two more than anyone else in baseball. He is two ahead of Milwaukee's Aramis Ramirez and four ahead of Albert Pujols. While leading baseball in doubles generally gets no mention at all, it is something for us Royals fans to pay attention to.
You see, no Royal batter has led the league in any of the 'traditional' categories since 1998. See if you can guess who it is before you click on the jump.
In 1998, Jose Offerman led all of baseball with 13 triples. Since then, some players have gotten close.
Jeff Francoeur was second in doubles just last season with 47, just one behind Miguel Cabrera. Billy Butler was second in doubles with 51 in 2009 (albeit five back of Brian Roberts). In 2007, David DeJesus was second in getting hit by pitches and Emil Brown - yes our old friend LIME - was second in sacrifice flies in 2006. Joe Randa was a runner-up in the same category in 2002.
Back in 2000 (when Rey Sanchez led baseball in Defensive bWAR, by the way), Johnny Damon was second or third in plate appearances, at-bats, runs and total hits, but could not top the game in any of the categories. You see Carlos Beltran's name on a fair share of the leaderboards back in the early 2000s as well, but he was never particularly close to leading any of the categories.
Nope, it was fourteen seasons ago when Jose Offerman led all of baseball in triples. The last time any Royal managed that feat. That seems like an awfully long drought.
Before that, Tom Goodwin led in sacrifice hits (Ned Yost rejoices) with 21 in 1996. He also led the game in caught stealing that year. He also led in sacrifice hits in 1995. Mike Macfarlane was hit by a pitch more than anyone else in 1994 and he tied for that honor in 1992. If you think leading in doubles or triples is mostly irrelevant, then I know that this entire paragraph was a waste of our time.
Now, we get back to the end of the glory days. In 1991, Danny Tartabull led baseball in slugging percentage. Most casual fans don't follow that leaderboard, but that is a real category of actual importance. In 1990, George Brett tied for the baseball lead in doubles and was second, by one point, in batting average. Of course, the Royals has their share of leaders back beyond that, but even for an old guy like me, that seems like forever ago.
I don't know, it is what it is. I am absolutely positive a team can win a World Series and be a perennial post-season participant without ever having a player lead both leagues in any category. Still, it is kind of fun to have someone with a chance to be the champion of some category (however obscure the doubles crown might be).
As it turns out, it is fairly rare around these parts.