I am one of, if not the youngest staff writers at Royals Review, which is an interesting position to be in. I was born in 1994, which places my fifth birthday right around the turn of the century. This is around the time that my Royals fandom became more of a conscious effort, rather than just being put into Royals clothing by my parents.
As you all know, the 2000’s weren’t a beacon of success for Kansas City baseball. We had Mike Sweeney, Carlos Beltran and Jermaine Dye, but not a whole lot of wins to show for them. Mike Sweeney was my favorite player, and still is, for what it is worth. One of my first cognitive baseball thoughts as a child, though, was not about Sweeney, but about a center fielder named David DeJesus.
2003 happened, which inevitably lead to 2004. Kansas City must have been buzzing with excitement and Carlos Beltran’s walk off home run on Opening Day surely sent that excitement to the moon. However, June 24 rolled around with the Royals sitting at 28-41, the same day they shipped Beltran off to Houston in exchange for John Buck, Mark Teahen and Mike Wood.
Ouch. It has been over a decade, but ouch.
As the Royals floundered to the second worst season in franchise history, rookie David DeJesus put together a reasonably good campaign, finishing with a .287/.360/.402 slash in 96 games.
Back to that cognitive baseball thought. As the Royals prepared for the 2005 season, 11-year old Ryan thought to himself, “hey, this David DeJesus guy could be pretty good.”
And I was right.
Over DeJesus’ eight seasons in Kansas City, he posted a 18.0 WAR, good for 22nd best in Royals history. Fangraphs like DeJesus more, giving him a 19.6 career fWAR, which slides him into the top-ten in Royals history. It is also worth noting that Lorenzo Cain is hot on his heals and will likely pass him for the 10th spot this season.
On Wednesday, DeJesus took to Twitter to officially announce his retirement from baseball.
I am officially retiring from playing baseball. Im so excited for this next chapter with @CSNChicago covering the Cubs with @thekapman.— David DeJesus (@David_DeJesus3) March 22, 2017
DeJesus last played for the Angels in 2015.
Shaun Newkirk took to Twitter to show where DeJesus stands among other Royal greats:
David DeJesus as a Royal:— Shaun Newkirk (@Shauncore) March 22, 2017
10th in fWAR (pos. players)
10th in wRC+ (min. 3000 PA)
11th in hits
To go further, DeJesus has a higher career OPS than Alex Gordon, Kevin Seitzer and Eric Hosmer. He has a higher career wOBA than Johnny Damon, Bo Jackson and Alex Gordon.
Newkirk also mapped out how DeJesus’ career as a Royal will likely be better than Hosmer and Mike Moustakas and maybe even Salvador Perez:
David DeJesus got 1-2 years late start and will probably end up better than Hosmer, Moustakas, and Perez. DeJesus is a Royals Hall of Famer. pic.twitter.com/AhTn5LE0OA— Shaun Newkirk (@Shauncore) March 22, 2017
DeJesus is largely a forgotten Royal. He falls in between the generation that watched the Royals won World Series’ in 1985 and 2015. The Kevin Appier’s and Mike Sweeney also fell intp this gap, but Appier didn’t play during the abyss of Royals baseball and both Appier and Sweeney had more productive career. David DeJesus had the disservice of being a very good player on a once-in-a-generation awful team.
However, for anybody of my generation who grew up as Royals fans in the 2000’s, DeJesus is remembered fondly. More fondly than his production, in fact, given my generation’s deprivation of serviceable baseball players.
So Godspeed, David. I look forward to seeing you in the Royals Hall of Fame, sooner rather than later.