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Who did the best and worst against the Royals?

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Hint: They were baseball players.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

The recent Hall of Fame debates have led to a lot of interesting discussions, but also a lot of stupid ones. Take, for example, this column by former New York Times columnist Murray Chass, in which he writes:

Interestingly, while watching one of those shows, I saw a film clip from another show, in which Brian Kenny of MLB.com was arguing with Chris Russo, a talk show host, about which players belong in the Hall of Fame.

Getting nowhere and becoming exasperated with Russo, Kenny, a major proponent of monster metrics, said, "Well, what basic methodology do you use to rate players?"

"I watch the games," Russo said.

I have always avoided listening to Russo, who screams too much and too loud for my liking, but in this instance, he won my allegiance. In four words, he made the case for those of us who prefer to judge players on what we see on the field, not on the computer screen.

I watch a lot of baseball, but its almost exclusively Royals games. So I get to see our Boys in Blue 162 times a year, and then other Central Division opponents 19 times a year, but then I only get to see the rest of the league a handful of times, and some teams I don't get to see at all. And that's with interleague play and ESPN and MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) and the internet and all the modern niceties.

Now imagine you're a Kansas Citian in the early 1980s, the peak of Tim Raines' career. Raines plays for the Expos, a National League club, and there is no interleague play. There is no ESPN, no MLBAM, no internet. Your only exposure to Raines would be the All-Star Game, those rare occasions the Expos made NBC's "Game of the Week" and maybe a highlight once in a great while on the local news. You're supposed to judge a Hall of Famer based off that?

Anyway, that column made me think, what if we had no stats and we had to judge players based solely on how we saw them do against our local team? We'd probably have a pretty skewed perspective. For example, one guy that always seems to kill the Royals is Paul Konerko. The Royals played him 19 times a year, he hit cleanup for over a decade on a pretty good team, and he always seemed to kill us. You might think he's a Hall of Famer then, if you didn't know his stats (Paul Konerko was a very, very, very good player, but not a Hall of Famer if I were to judge him by his statistical record).

So I wanted to see who had done the best against the Royals in franchise history. Here are the OPS leaders, with a minimum of 350 plate appearances against Kansas City.

Player (350 PA) PA HR BA OBP SLG OPS
Alex Rodriguez 684 48 .326 .431 .640 1.071
Manny Ramirez 507 37 .325 .412 .636 1.048
Jason Giambi 531 31 .315 .437 .606 1.043
Mark McGwire 478 30 .302 .423 .608 1.031
Jim Thome 787 49 .299 .414 .582 .996
Grady Sizemore 475 25 .310 .395 .584 .979
Rafael Palmeiro 747 41 .296 .383 .574 .958
Tim Salmon 496 26 .292 .397 .559 .956
Shin-Soo Choo 362 11 .326 .425 .526 .952
Frank Thomas 802 37 .303 .411 .540 .952

Not a completely surprising list. Frank Thomas is already a Hall of Famer, Jim Thome could join him, and Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Mark McGwire, and Rafael Palmeiro would probably be in someday were it not for PED suspicions. For what its worth, Konerko is actually a .261/.346/.454 hitter against the Royals, below his career numbers. So I guess we shouldn't completely judge things by our eyes.

What if we drop the minimum playing time requirement a bit to get guys that didn't face the Royals that much?

Player (100 PA) PA HR BA OBP SLG OPS
Jonny Gomes 124 14 .320 .419 .796 1.215
Randall Simon 109 7 .410 .431 .730 1.161
Dick Allen 166 13 .368 .446 .694 1.140
Scott Rolen 139 7 .383 .475 .643 1.118
Luis Gonzalez 111 10 .356 .414 .693 1.107
Edwin Encarnacion 125 7 .337 .440 .644 1.084
Herbert Perry 132 9 .348 .405 .678 1.083
Matt Holliday 130 8 .343 .438 .639 1.077
Alex Rodriguez 684 48 .326 .431 .640 1.071
Manny Ramirez 507 37 .325 .412 .636 1.048

Gomes! Why did you let him beat you Ned! Herbert Perry is a guy that stands out as a scrub with the Indians, but I guess he must have terrorized Royals pitching in the late 90s.

Who has taken Royals pitchers deep the most?

Player HR PA
Jim Thome 49 787
Alex Rodriguez 48 684
Paul Konerko 45 1056
Rafael Palmeiro 41 747
Reggie Jackson 37 873
Manny Ramirez 37 507
Cal Ripken 37 885
Frank Thomas 37 802
Juan Gonzalez 35 550
Torii Hunter 34 870

Its now clear why the Royals have been pursuing Torii Hunter for so long.

Okay, so who did the Royals dominate against?

Player (350 PA) PA HR BA OBP SLG OPS
Sandy Alomar 421 0 .234 .286 .255 .541
Rick Manning 433 4 .205 .253 .298 .551
Bert Campaneris 754 0 .238 .294 .281 .575
Mark Belanger 447 2 .219 .294 .284 .577
Jim Gantner 523 1 .255 .285 .305 .589
Charlie Moore 351 4 .221 .273 .321 .594
Brook Jacoby 398 4 .226 .298 .299 .597
B.J. Surhoff 515 2 .242 .289 .314 .603
Coco Crisp 438 4 .223 .271 .335 .606
Devon White 429 2 .240 .290 .318 .608

Some decent players in there, but no one really close to Hall of Fame status. Perhaps the best player the Royals shut down was Jose Canseco, who hit just .236/.319/.403 in 565 career plate appearances.

What about pitchers? Who shut down the mighty Royals hitters over the years? How about those that pitched at least 150 innings against the Boys in Blue?

Player (150 IP) G ERA W L IP
Roger Clemens 40 2.18 25 7 301.2
Bert Blyleven 65 2.59 34 22 503.1
Wilbur Wood 43 2.63 16 13 242.2
Geoff Zahn 22 2.67 10 10 161.2
Catfish Hunter 40 2.68 16 11 288.1
Jimmy Key 36 2.71 15 6 202.1
Nolan Ryan 46 2.73 24 15 336.2
Tommy John 37 2.98 18 8 250.1
Jim Palmer 39 3.00 21 12 279.0
Mike Mussina 35 3.00 18 7 246.1

Holy Cooperstown, Batman! That's four Hall of Famers (Blyleven, Hunter, Ryan, Palmer), two others that should probably be in (Clemens, Mussina), and Tommy John is a borderline case. I suppose we can put an asterisk by Roger's statistics?

Let's lower the minimum innings to 50.

Player (50 IP) G ERA W L IP
Anibal Sanchez 7 1.07 5 2 50.1
Chad Ogea 10 1.08 3 1 50.0
Joe Nathan 73 1.34 4 0 73.2
Keith Foulke 45 1.55 3 2 58.0
Frank Castillo 9 1.59 4 0 51.0
Rich Hand 11 1.67 2 5 54.0
Mariano Rivera 60 1.68 2 3 69.2
Tom Seaver 9 1.77 4 3 66.0
Jeff Nelson 47 1.82 4 0 54.1
Steve Ontiveros 18 1.82 4 2 59.1

Frank Castillo? Sheesh. Joe Nathan has 45 career saves, and Mariano Rivera has 37 against the Royals, in case you were wondering.

How did the Royals knock around a bit?

Player (150 IP) G ERA W L IP
Freddy Garcia 31 5.70 10 14 173.2
Jim Abbott 25 5.61 6 12 155.2
Jim Slaton 35 5.40 6 14 151.2
Luis Tiant 30 5.26 6 15 155.2
Bartolo Colon 28 4.83 15 10 173.1
Jim Clancy 29 4.82 10 13 185.0
Bobby Witt 25 4.69 10 9 153.2
Glenn Abbott 27 4.56 7 10 160.0
Frank Tanana 43 4.54 9 22 259.2
Fergie Jenkins 25 4.51 8 10 161.2

Yea, Garcia would have been my first guess. It seems like the Royals always had his number, no matter how good he was and how bad they were. How about those that were so crummy they only threw 50 innings against the Royals?

Player (50 IP) G ERA W L IP
Tim Belcher 9 7.41 1 7 51.0
Gary Peters 12 7.10 3 4 58.1
Paul Mitchell 14 6.88 0 4 52.1
Chris Knapp 13 6.86 4 3 63.0
Ramon Ortiz 10 6.75 3 5 56.0
James Baldwin 18 6.48 7 5 93.0
John Tudor 10 6.22 2 5 59.1
Jaime Navarro 24 6.12 8 8 122.0
Rick Langford 16 6.11 5 7 84.0
Omar Olivares 13 6.10 3 5 62.0

John Tudor sticks out as he was a very good pitcher, who was rocked in Game 7 of the 1985 World Series against the Royals (those numbers aren't included in these totals). Tim Belcher pitched for the Royals from 1998 to 1998.