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The Ballad of Joe Randa

Now that some distance is between us and Joe Randa, we can safely begin to assess his place in Royals history. Looking at the raw numbers, Randa's played a larger role than might be expected, and its possible that he's one of the defining players of this post-Brett swoon that will seemingly never end. He's not at Sweeney's stature, but by virtue of his longer tenure as a Royal, he's mostly ahead of more talented players like Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye and Carlos Beltran, stars who shone too brightly for the Glass Family's spending sensibilities.

Lets take a look at Randa's Royals legacy (1995-6, 1999-2004). Here's his team history rank in the major categories:

Batting Average: .288 (9th All-Time)

On-Base Percentage: .340 (15th)

Slugging Percentage: .428 (16th)

Thats a .288/.340/.428 line as a Royal. During an era in which the K was one of the AL's better hitter's parks (more or less), and during the now wrongly named "steroids era", its not terribly great in its own context. Still, its a production line with its merits, especially given that 3rd base has weirdly become a pretty weak offensive position in the last decade or so.

Games: 1019 (8th)

Runs: 489 (10th)

Hits: 1084 (7th)

Total Bases: 1611 (7th)

Doubles: 233 (7th)

Home Runs: 86 (12th)

RsBI: 86 (7th)

I think I'm right to assume these numbers are a tad surprising, especially the games played total and the doubles and total bases to a lesser extent. Well, this is what regularity and adequecy can get you, and its worth celebrating in a way.

Its safe to say that Joe Randa is the second best 3rd baseman in Royals history, and is probably one of the 5 best Royals of the last decade or so (say, post-strike era).

Lets briefly honor Joe's best season, 1999.

Joe played in 156 games, and hit an impressive .314/.363/.478 with a career high 16 homers and 84 RBI. Joe finished 6th in the league in hits, 5th in triples (8) and 8th in singles. Its almost like he was Ichiro Lite...

With Sweeney, Damon, Beltran, Dye, Feebles and Randa all having good offensive years, it looked like the Royals were a young exciting team on the rise. Of course, carrying around Chad Kreuter's .225/.309/.318 helped to drag the offense down and Rey Sanchez wasn't much better.

Famously among Royals fans, the 1999 team had one of the worst bullpens of all time, rivaled only by the 2000 team, which prompted the terrible Roberto Hernandez "Proven Closer" acquisition. Those teams are still a good lesson to us Royals fans, that youth ill-wasted and ill-supported, even when talented, doesn't always develop into something worth while. Damon, Beltran and Sweeney were all "home grown" more or less, but when your carrying ciphers around the diamond and have one of the worst pitching staffs in the league it doesn't matter. Joe Randa, along with Sweeney, was a surprising gift at that time, and we'll always carry those wonderful memories with us.

Postscript: Last October Randa made his first career postseason appearance with the Padres, a well deserved reward for his years of toil. While the Padres were swept, it wasn't because of the Joker, who hit .364/.417/.455 in three games. Weirdly, just as Randa made his triumphant return to Kansas City in 1999, in December of 2005 he signed with Pittsburgh, giving him two teams for which he has now played twice. To date, Randa has made $19 million in baseball.