Growing up as a baseball fan in Springfield, Missouri, I did the same thing that most young baseball fans did: I collected baseball cards. Like many of my friends, I would go to a sports memorabilia store named Fastbreak Sports and sift through thousands of cards until I found one to my liking.
The only difference being that I would sift through the Royals section while all my friends sifted through the Cardinals section. Growing up a lonely Royals fan in the early 2000’s was an interesting phenomenon. As most baseball card collectors, I loved jersey cards and autographed cards and going back through the cards that I viewed as sacred is pretty amusing. I remember having Joey Gathright autograph a card at FanFest one year and you would have thought that I was on top of the world. Like I said, it’s amusing.
But my love for autographed memorabilia didn’t start at FanFest or even at a Royals game. It started at Bass Pro in Springfield, where the Royals Caravan was making a scheduled stop. It was there that I got my small, black alternate David DeJesus jersey signed by DeJesus himself.
That was the beginning of a cool “relationship.” I was at FanFest every year and hounded players for autographs at games, and with DeJesus being my favorite player, I got his John Hancock numerous times. So many times, in fact, that he remembered me one year at FanFest and greeted me with a high-five.
Like I said earlier, growing up a Royals fan in the early 2000’s was an interesting phenomenon because I had the wonder of a child in love with baseball but I didn’t have the players to validate that wonder. So, while my Cardinal fan friends got to watch Pujols become one of the best hitters anybody had ever seen, I was stuck being excited every time Gathright squared up to bunt.
But DeJesus was an aberration. Mike Sweeney was and still is my all-time favorite Royals player, followed closely by Alex Gordon. Sweeney’s best seasons were behind him by the time I was a coherent baseball fan and Gordon wasn’t in his prime until my childhood years were over. As my love for baseball was peaking, the Royals were bottoming out and DeJesus was the only glimpse of good baseball I saw.
The Royals released their 2019 Hall of Fame ballot yesterday and this is DeJesus’ first season on the ballot. The ballot includes names like Bo Jackson, Yordano Ventura, and Kevin Seitzer. There are some good names on there who might be worthy of the Royals Hall of Fame, but here is what you need to know: David DeJesus should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
The standard for the Royals Hall of Fame isn’t super high and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Heck, Cookie Rojas has a worse career fWAR than Rey Sanchez. But DeJesus, a guy who is easy to forget because of the era he played and the shoes he was filling, has the 11th best fWAR in Royals history for a position player and never posted a full-season fWAR below 2.2.
He had two 4+ win season, which is two more than Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas combined. He is top-ten on the Royals all-time list in batting average, on-base percentage, and triples. He has a higher Royals career SLG% than Alex Gordon, a higher career ISO than Lorenzo Cain, and trails Carlos Beltran in wRC+ by a single point.
But, like I said, DeJesus has been largely forgotten. Not only is he is one of the most underrated Royals to ever play in Kansas City, but the numbers would suggest that he is better than several future Royals Hall of Famers.
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
All five of the guys on that list belong in the Royals Hall of Fame. DeJesus is better than at least three of them but will likely have the most trouble getting in. When you compare DeJesus to the rest of the 2019 ballot, his case becomes even stronger.
Al Cowens had a career year on the best Royals team of all-time, but was an average player at best in his other five seasons with Kansas City. Johnny Damon had two really good seasons with Kansas City and is the best player of the bunch, but he was in another uniform during his prime, as was Raul Ibanez. Jackson was the biggest star but wasn’t really a great baseball player. I think Seitzer is the other obvious choice, putting together four strong seasons in Kansas City before being released.
To me, this is a no-brainer. DeJesus was the best Royals player on the ballot. Vote Bo, Vote Seitzer, Vote Yordano, but don’t forget to vote DeJesus.