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The 100 greatest Royals of the decade

What a decade it was.

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MLB: Kansas City Royals at Chicago White Sox Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

The decade is drawing to an end and what a wild ride of a decade it has been for Royals fans. The Royals won 46.7 percent of their games this decade, going 758-862, with only the Orioles, Rockies, White Sox, Padres, and Marlins finishing with more losses.

But of course we have those two pennants and a championship flag flying from this decade, wasn’t all bad. In fact, this decade produced some of the most memorable games, plays, and players in Royals history. We may never finish our list of the 100 greatest Royals of all-time, but we can at least take a trip down memory lane and remember the 100 greatest Royals from this decade.

Wins Above Replacement was an initial guide, but how can you rank Johnny Cueto behind Rosell Herrera? So I made tweaks, considering overall impact to the franchise and also just how much I enjoyed watching them play. So, not making this list: Yuniesky Betancourt. Don’t take this list too seriously, this is mostly just a chance to remember some dudes that could play some ball.

100. Cheslor Cuthbert

Cuthbert seemed like a worthy sucessor to Mike Moustakas for about five minutes, then his below-average bat and erratic defensive put those notions to rest.

99. Dusty Hughes

If you remember Dusty Hughes pitching in Kansas City, you have earned your diehard Royals Review status. But he was a pretty decenty lefty specialist in 2010.

98. Will Smith

Before he became a dominant reliever, the Royals tried him as a starter, with mixed results.

97. Dillon Gee

Gee filled in as a starter and long man for the 2016 Royals and was adequate with a 4.68 ERA.

96. Jonny Gomes

I only put him on the list for his championship parade speech. He didn’t do anything of note in a Royals uniform.

95. Raul Ibanez

The Royals brought Ibanez back in 2014 for veteran presence, and while his 90 plate appearances were largely forgettable, his speech to the team was the inspiration they needed to go on an amazing post-season run.

94. Chien-Min Wang

The former 20-game winner was a reclamation project and pitched adequately in 53 innings for the Royals in 2016.

93. Alex Rios

Rios was actually a pretty awful free agent bust for the Royals, but I have some sentimentality for him as the starting right fielder on their championship team, and for the time he took one in the schmeck.

92. Ryan O’Hearn

O’Hearn was great for 44 games in 2018 and followed it up with a terrible 2019, putting him below replacement level for the decade.

91. Kyle Davies

He would show competence at times, but the Royals stuck with him in the rotation far too long.

90. Everett Teaford

Teaford was a goofy lefty who pitched in parts of three seasons with the Royals with a respectable 4.11 ERA and is probably best remember for this photo with Tim Collins in Jonathan Broxton’s pants.

89. Elliott Johnson

He was the throw-in for the James Shields deal, and hit just .179, but the defensive metrics were in love with him and he later gave this all-time great post-game interview.

88. Johnny Giavotella

Johnny G was a Royals Review-fave who had great minor league numbers but never made the most of the limited opportunities he got.

87. Mike Montgomery

Back to the organization that drafted him, Montgomery sought a chance to start again and was decent in 13 games down the stretch last year.

86. Robinson Tejada

Pitched pretty effectively as a long-man in lower-leverage innings.

85. Josh Willingham

Played just 24 games with the Royals as a late-season pickup but was a good veteran in the clubhouse and had a huge hit in the Wild Card game.

84. Brandon Finnegan

The 2014 first-round pick became the first player ever to play in a College World Series and MLB World Series in the same year, and was later the main piece of a trade for Johnny Cueto.

83. Justin Maxwell

Played just 55 games with the Royals, but played well down the stretch for the 2013 Royals and hit a walk-off grand slam against the Rangers in a post-season push that, at the time, was the most meaningful hit in a decade of Royals baseball.

82. Jose Guillen

Only played the final year of his three-year deal this decade, hitting .255/.314/.429 with 16 home runs but was poor defensively and a bit of a pain in the butt.

81. Nate Adcock

Surprisingly good Rule 5 draft pick as a groundball pitcher who had a 3.79 ERA in two seasons.

80. Jason Kendall

Spent the last year of his career in Kansas City and while he ddin’t hit much he dropped some knowledge on younger players, enough to fill a book.

79. Brayan Pena

Was a likeable backup catcher who could hit at times, but always seemed to enjoy being around the game of baseball.

78. Blake Wood

Reliever with a solid ERA of 3.75 in 2011 that had his career sidetracked by Tommy John surgery.

77. Rosell Herrera

Played just 75 games with the Royals with very underwhelming offensive numbers, but he metrics loved his defense.

76. Billy Hamilton

Billy Hamilton and the Royals seemed like a match made in heaven due to their fetish for speed, and while he did provide some good defense, his bat was even worse than expected.

75. Jorge Bonifacio

Hit 17 home runs his rookie season, but could never get his career back on track after being suspended for using a banned substance.

74. Omar Infante

The big free agent signing didn’t pan out, but he was a solid defender who had a terrific performance in the 2014 World Series, hitting .318 with a home run.

73. Nicky Lopez

The rookie infielder struggled with the bat in his rookie campaign, but he still contributed with speed and defense.

72. Tim Hill

Lefty relief specialist who overcame cancer to become a coveted reliever on the trade market.

71. Jeff Francis

The Royals needed starting pitching badly in 2011, and Francis was able to make 31 starts without embarrassing himself, although he finished 6-16 that year.

70. Franklin Morales

Morales is probably the last guy you would remember from the 2015 championship team that got a significant amount of playing time. He got in 67 games!

69. Francisley Bueno

Bueno was as his name suggests, good, with a 2.79 ERA as a lefty specialist.

68. Drew Butera

Dependable backup who hit a bit in 2016 but is perhaps best known for his hair flip and for catching the final out of the 2015 World Series.

67. Jon Jay

Jay spent just a few months with the Royals, but hit .368 in the month of May, which led to him being traded to the Diamondbacks for a few promising arms.

66. Luis Mendoza

Perhaps better known for his luxurious hair, Mendoza was a longman and occasional starting pitcher with a 4.72 ERA in 278 23 innings.

65. Scott Barlow

Barlow was a minor league free agent who emerged as one of the better Royals relievers, with 107 strikeouts in 85 13 innings.

64. Brett Phillips

“Maverick” was a fan favorite for his bizarre laugh, Fortnite dances, and sensational catches, an he ended Ned Yost’s career with a walk-off win.

63. Scott Podsednik

Scottie Pods was a terrific leadoff hitter, hitting .310/.353/.400 with 30 steals in 95 games with the Royals, but his defense had fallen off to the point where he was a liability in the outfield.

62. Alberto Callaspo

Callaspo had a few successful seasons in Kansas City, with 2010 being his last, when he was a 1.1 WAR infielder before being traded mid-season to the Angels for Will Smith.

61. Brian Flynn

Known most for falling through a barn roof in a freak accident, Flynn was a rubber-armed lefty who filled every role the Royals asked of him.

60. Kyle Farnsworth

Farnsy had a big fastball and a bit of an attitude, but he was a solid reliever with the Royals with a 3.40 ERA in parts of two seasons.

59. Matt Strahm

Strahm was a minor league development success story going from a skinny unheralded pitcher from North Dakota to a hard-throwing lefty who was unfortunately dealt to the Padres in an ill-fated deal.

58. Jonathan Broxton

The Royals brought him as a free agent closer to flip at the deadline, and he was as advertised, saving 23 games in 35 before the Royals traded him to Cincinnati for two prospects.

57. Wilson Betemit

Offense-minded infielder whose .889 OPS in 2010 is the second-best season by a Royals hitter with at least 300 plate appearances behind only Jorge Soler in 2019.

56. Kevin McCarthy

Emerged from the farm system to be a solid groundball-inducing reliever with a 3.78 ERA in four seasons.

55 Martin Maldonado

.When Salvy went down with injury, the Royals brought in Maldonado and he filled in admirably, providing outstanding defense before he was traded to the Cubs.

54. Homer Bailey

Bailey is the poster child for signing vets to a minor league deal. After it looked like his career was over in Cincinnati, the Royals took a chance on him and he put up a solid 90 innings for them before they flipped him to Oakland.

53. Peter Moylan

Moylan was the best barista in the Royals clubhouse this decade, but the witty Australian sidearmer could sling it too with a 3.46 ERA in two seasons with the Royals.

52. Mitch Maier

MITCH! became a fan favorite at Royals Review and was a solid defender and fourth outfielder, even filling out on the pitcher’s mound when needed.

51. Jason Frasor

The Royals picked him up for the pennant push in 2014 and he was very solid with a 1.54 ERA in parts of two seasons with the Royals, and when he was cut he gave about the classiest interview ever.

50. Emilio Bonifacio

The Royals surprisingly found themselves on the periphery of a post-season push in 2013, so they picked up Bonifacio, who gave the Royals a bit of a jolt with 16 stolen bases in just 42 games.

49. Chris Getz

He wasn’t much with the bat and had virtually no power, but Getzie did provide solid defense at second and could swipe a few bases.

48. Scott Alexander

Sinkerballer induced ground balls like no other Royals reliever before the club flipped him to the Dodgers.

47. David Lough

Really just played one season in Kansas City as a semi-regular, and despite underwhelming offensive numbers, was a defensive wizard, according to the metrics.

46.Felipe Paulino

He was a savvy pickup by the Royals and had a 3.55 ERA in 28 games with the Royals, but couldn’t stay healthy enough to have a bigger impact.

45. Jeff Francoeur

Put up a great 2011 season with 20 home runs, 22 steals, with a strong arm in right and a 3.2 WAR season, but fell off quickly after that.

44. Johnny Cueto

He is the biggest name the Royals have ever acquired at the July trade deadline, and he gave an electric debut at Kauffman Stadium. His other starts were inconsistent, but he came through when it mattered, giving the Royals a dominant start in Game 5 of the ALDS against Houston and a complete game against the Mets in the World Series.

43. Aaron Crow

He wasn’t what you wanted out of a top ten pick in the draft, and his 2011 All-Star selection was a bit of a joke, but Crow was a solid reliever for the Royals with a 3.43 ERA over four seasons.

42. Louis Coleman

Underrated right-handed relief specialist with a sidearm delivery that enabled him to put up a solid 3.20 ERA in in 177 innings with the Royals.

41. Mike Aviles

He was offered a $1,000 “take it or leave it” bonus out of college, and was overlooked throughout the minors, but overcame it all to carve out a decent career for himself, hitting .304/.335/.413 for the Royals in 2010.

40. Christian Colon

He may not have lived up to his billing as the fourth overall pick in the draft, but he came up with two of the biggest clutch hits in Royals post-season history, hitting the chopper to tie the game in extra innings of the Wild Card game, and hitting the single to put the Royals on top of the World Series-clinching game against the Mets.

39. Nori Aoki

Known for his amusing pratfalls including my favorite Royals GIF of all-time (it works on so many levels!) Aoki was actually huge down the stretch in 2014, hitting .325 over his last 58 games and hitting the sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth to tie the Wild Card Game against the Athletics.

38. Tim Collins

Tiny Tim was a fan favorite for his diminutive frame and big fastball that allowed him to strike out 220 hitters in just 211 innings with the Royals.

37. Ryan Madson

Madson was sitting at home virtually retired when the Royals gave him a call, and he resurrected his career with a 2.13 ERA and three shutout innings in the World Series.

36. Chris Young

The Royals took a flyer on him in 2015 and he turned out to be one of the best free agent signings that year, becoming a 2.6 WAR pitcher and giving the Royals some huge post-season appearances.

35. Hunter Dozier

The former first-round pick suffered career setbacks and injuries before finally putting it all together in 2019 and becoming one of the top hitters in the league.

34. Paulo Orlando

The best player to ever hail from Brazil, Paulo was known for his smooth running that led to many, many triples.

33. Ben Zobrist

Zo spent just two months in Kansas City, but was quickly a fan favorite and a huge factor in the 2015 ALCS, hitting .320 with two home runs.

32. David DeJesus

DJ was one of the more underrated players in club history but only played one season with the Royals this decade, a season that was on track to be his best until a wrist injury caused him to miss the final two months.

31. Mike Minor

The Royals signed him as a reclamation project and he revived his career following Tommy John surgery with a 2.55 ERA out of the bullpen in 2017.

30. Ervin Santana

Erv liked to “smell the baseball”, but he could toss it as well putting up a 3.24 ERA and 2.9 WAR in his only season with the Royals in 2013.

29. Luke Hochevar

The former first overall pick was considered a disappointment until he moved to the bullpen with a 2.96 ERA over his last three seasons as a reliever.

28. Jakob Junis

Has the second-most WAR by a starting pitcher drafted under Dayton Moore after only Danny Duffy.

27. Melky Cabrera

The Royals brought in the former top prospect who had been a disappointment up to that point, and he turned in a sensational 2011 season as a 4.4 WAR player before he was flipped to San Francisco in a forgettable trade for Jonathan Sanchez.

26. Edinson Volquez

Volquez bolstered the rotation with a very solid 2015 season including some clutch performances in the post-season, including a start just after learning of the death of his father.

25. Jorge Soler

After injury and performance setbacks, put it all together to set the club single-season home run record, becoming the first Royals player ever to lead the league in that category.

24. Adalberto Mondesi

Possesses a unique blend of power, speed, and defense, swiping 89 bases in just 249 games and was the first player to ever make his MLB debut in the World Series.

23. Zack Greinke

Only pitched in one season for the Royals this decade, and even though it was a down year for him, it was a solid 3.5 WAR season, one of the top ten best seasons by a Royals pitcher this decade.

22. Jeremy Guthrie

Won 28 games in 2013 and 2014, gave a clutch start against his former team, the Orioles, in the 2014 ALCS, and started Game 7 of that year’s World Series.

21. Bruce Chen

Finished second to Duffy in pitcher wins this decade, was a solid mid-rotation starter at a time the Royals were looking for more pitching.

20. Brad Keller

A savvy acquisition from the Rule 5 draft, Keller emerged to become the best Royals starter during the rebuild.

19. Joakim Soria

Another Rule 5 draft gem, had a fantastic 2010 season, with 43 saves and a 1.78 ERA, earning an All-Star appearance and Cy Young Award votes, then returned with a mixed, but underrated performance.

18. Ian Kennedy

Didn’t live up to his contract, but provided a solid season in 2017 before reinventing himself as a reliever, becoming just the fourth pitcher in history with a 20-win season and 30-save season under his belt.

17. Kendrys Morales

Topped Royals hitters with at least 1,000 PA in OPS this decade at .812 and hit a huge home run in the 2015 ALDS Game 5 against Houston.

16. Jason Vargas

An underrated free agent signing, was an important part of the 2014 pennant-winning rotation, and led the league in wins in 2016, his only All-Star appearance.

15. Wade Davis

Few relievers will ever have the run Davis had from 2014-2016 when he had a 1.18 ERA with 234 strikeouts in 182 23 innings with just three home runs allowed, punctuated by recording the last out of the 2015 World Series.

14. Yordano Ventura

Had perhaps the most electric arm in club history, and pitched brilliantly Game 6 of the 2014 World Series at age 23, but was sadly taken from this world far too soon.

13. James Shields

Pitched just two seasons in Kansas City, but his 2013 season was the best season by a Royals pitcher this decade and he gave the Royals the frontline starter and veteran they needed.

12. Kelvin Herrera

Dominant middle reliever who was a two-time All-Star and part of the vaunted HDH relief trio.

11. Alcides Escobar

Was a fantastic defender at shortstop who seemed to come up in clutch situations in the post-season, earning him the 2015 ALCS MVP.

10. Greg Holland

From 2013-2015, only Craig Kimbrel had more saves than the 145 from “Dirty South”, who dominated with a sub-2.00 ERA over that time.

9. Billy Butler

“Country Breakfast” led all Royals hitters with at least 1,000 at-bats in OPS+ with 125 and was saluted by Royals fans with his selection to the 2012 All-Star Game in Kansas City.

8. Jarrod Dyson

Underrated master of speed and defense who finished sixth among all big leaguers this decade with 250 stolen bases.

7. Danny Duffy

His 16 WAR tops all Royals pitchers in the decade, as does his commitment to the franchise with him once tweeting “bury me a Royal.”

6. Mike Moustakas

The former first-round pick was a bit disappointing at first, earning a demotion in 2014, but a shift in philosophy turned his career around and he would set the single-season club home run record in 2017.

5. Whit Merrifield

Didn’t make his MLB debut until 2016 at the age of 27, but has become one of the best leadoff hitters in the game, twice leading the league in hits and stolen bases.

4. Eric Hosmer

His Major League debut marked the beginning of a new era in Kansas City with a youth movement that would lead to a championship. The four-time Gold Glover came up with countless clutch hits in the 2014 and 2015 post-seasons.

3. Lorenzo Cain

Was injury-prone early in his career but learned to stay on the field and become not only one of the best defenders in baseball, but a solid top-of-the-order hitter who was the most valuable member of the 2015 championship club.

2. Salvador Perez

Royals fans knew he was special from his very first game. Became the heart and soul of the team, earning six All-Star appearances, five Gold Gloves, two Silver Slugger Awards, and was the 2015 World Series MVP.

1. Alex Gordon

The only player on this list to play every single season this decade with the Royals. The Midwestern kid overcame some early career struggles to become a three-time All-Star, seven-time Gold Glove winner, and hit one of the most iconic post-season home runs in franchise history.