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Most Beloved (Obscure) Royals: Fleeting Glory Region

Because we’ll always have 1985... and 2015... and 2003?

World Series - Kansas City Royals v New York Mets - Game Five Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

We started the quest to find the most beloved Royals beyond the franchise icons with a few play-in matches, but now we are ready to begin voting on the field of 64.

The field is broken up into four regions, with each region made up of two or more sub-groupings. The seeding is roughly (but not strictly) based on longevity with the team. To narrow it down, I chose not to include current Royals (no Dozier, Mondesi, or Maverick), imported short-term regulars who did not otherwise fit in a category (like Gagne, Stairs, Bell, or Santana), or random relievers (Nate Adcock, Steve Shifflett, Peter Moylan, etc.).

Today, we’re going to look at the Fleeting Glory Region, which is made up of the “Flash-in-the-Pan” and “Postseason Heroes” subgroups.

In the preliminaries, Paul Byrd defeated Luis Aquino to secure the #8 seed, Paulo Orlando topped Cheslor Cuthbert for the #13 seed, Dane Iorg outshone Jorge Orta for the #14 seed, and Johnny Cueto beat Brandon Finnegan to take the #15 seed.

So here’s how the bracket stands now:

“Flash-in-the-Pan” Match-Ups

#1 Bob Hamelin vs. #16 Tom Poquette

Bob Hamelin is one of four Rookies of the Year the Royals boast in their history. After George Brett’s retirement in 1994, “the Hammer” replaced him as the everyday DH and took the league (and city) by storm. Hamelin was hottest during the team’s 14-game win streak, posting a .354/.475/.813 slash line, with six home runs. Foam hammers filled Kauffman Stadium right up until the players’ strike. The strike ended the season as well as Hamelin’s time in the sun. 1995 brought a new manager, a huge slump (.168 AVG), and a return to Omaha. Hamelin left the Royals after the 1996 season, had LASIK surgery, and had a really good season in 1997, but fell off in 1998 and retired the next year.

Baseball Reference will tell you that Tom Poquette (the 1970s outfielder, not to be confused with Craig Paquette, the 1990s utility man) was a .268 hitter, but that’s a lie. Poquette only once finished a season within 25 points of .268 (.292 in 1977). He hit .214 in a brief call-up in ‘73, then .302 and .292 in ‘76-’77. He slumped to .216 in ‘78 and was hitting .192 when the Royals traded him to Boston in ‘79. He hit .331 with the Red Sox to finish the season at .311. He missed the 1980 season to injury and never was healthy again, posting a .148 average over 142 plate appearances with Boston, Texas, and back in Kansas City in 1981-82.


Bob Hamelin or Tom Poquette?

This poll is closed

  • 76%
    Bob Hamelin
    (239 votes)
  • 23%
    Tom Poquette
    (72 votes)
311 votes total Vote Now

#8 Paul Byrd vs. #9 Mark Quinn

Paul Byrd prevailed in a play-in match-up against one of my personal favorites, Luis Aquino, in order to draw a match-up with Quinn. Byrd had a successful season and a half with the Royals, including a 17-win season with the Royals’ first 100-loss team in 2002.

If you aren’t familiar with Quinn—or if you want to relive the memories—I recommend reading Jeffrey Flanagan’s retrospective. Quinn had a promising start to his career, finishing third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2000, but his plate discipline became such a joke the following season that the stadium set off fireworks when he drew a walk for the first time in three months.


Paul Byrd or Mark Quinn?

This poll is closed

  • 70%
    Paul Byrd
    (218 votes)
  • 29%
    Mark Quinn
    (93 votes)
311 votes total Vote Now

#4 Angel Berroa vs. #13 Paulo Orlando

The Royals’ 2003 season was sort of crazy and magical and surreal, all up until midnight struck down the stretch. A big part of the success was shortstop Angel Berroa, who won AL Rookie of the Year, playing average defense while slugging 17 home runs, stealing 21 bases, and posting a .287 average. Things went downhill from there, both offensively and defensively, but he was at the heart of one of the most fun years Royals fans had between the championship eras.

In the play-in matchup, Paulo Orlando beat Cheslor Cuthbert in a battle of a couple of guys who helped keep the defending champs within shouting distance of contention in 2016. After that season, however, the Brazilian speedster known as 3PO was never a positive contributor again.


Angel Berroa or Paulo Orlando?

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    Angel Berroa
    (131 votes)
  • 60%
    Paulo Orlando
    (198 votes)
329 votes total Vote Now

#5 Mike Aviles vs. #12 Aaron Guiel

The best single season by a Royals shortstop was by Jay Bell in 1997, but most Royals fans would be hard-pressed to name Mike Aviles in his rookie 2008 season as the second-best single-season performance by a Royals shortstop according to bWAR (4.7), and he did it in only 442 plate appearances. Aviles hit a whopping .325/.354/.480 that season. Aviles had the reputation of being miscast at shortstop defensively, but the metrics said he was well above average in 2008, and about average thereafter. He hit poorly in 2009, above .300 again (playing mostly 2B) in 2010, and was traded after a poor start in 2011. Overall, he hit .286/.317/.417 in 1218 plate appearances with the Royals.

Aaron Guiel had his best season as the regular right fielder for the 2003 club, for whom he was the primary leadoff hitter much of the season. Guiel was a decent defensive right fielder with a good arm who got on base pretty well in his better batting average seasons. He followed up his 2003, when he hit .277/.346/.489 with 15 home runs in only 401 plate appearances, with a disastrous .156 campaign in 2004. He never held a regular big-league job again, and the Royals waived him in 2006.


Mike Aviles or Aaron Guiel?

This poll is closed

  • 85%
    Mike Aviles
    (273 votes)
  • 14%
    Aaron Guiel
    (47 votes)
320 votes total Vote Now

Postseason Heroes Match-Ups

#2 Kendrys Morales vs. #15 Johnny Cueto

When the Royals signed Kendrys Morales, a lot of us hated the move. Many hated to see Billy Butler go, but were OK with not matching Oakland’s three-year deal, but Morales? It was as if they had found the one DH who was slower and who had a worse 2014 (.218/.274/.338) than Butler. But Morales turned out to be a great signing, becoming an anchor for the middle of the order in 2015-16. His most memorable postseason moment was the ALDS-sealing home run off of Dallas Keuchel, who announcers were comparing to Madison Bumgarner, a lefty ace pitching in relief in the deciding game against the Royals. Instead, Morales hit a three-run home run to put the game on ice, skipping down the line as he watched it fly.

Division Series - Houston Astros v Kansas City Royals - Game Five Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Johnny Cueto pulled the upset (in my mind) over Brandon Finnegan in the play-in match-up of 2014 vs. 2015 heroes who were traded for each other. Cueto was the rented ace that the Royals brought in for the 2015 stretch run and postseason. He pitched inconsistently, but came up with two masterpieces, one in the same ALDS game 5 where Morales hit his homer, and then again in game 2 of the World Series.


Kendrys Morales or Johnny Cueto?

This poll is closed

  • 76%
    Kendrys Morales
    (250 votes)
  • 23%
    Johnny Cueto
    (77 votes)
327 votes total Vote Now

#7 Christian Colon vs. #10 Chris Young

By most reasonable assessments, Christian Colon turned out to be a terrible choice as the #4 overall pick in the 2010 draft. He stands as the 15th-most valuable first-rounder that year, behind eleven players picked behind him, including Chris Sale and Christian Yelich. But his draft position didn’t matter when he stepped to the plate and drove in two of the biggest runs in Royals history: an infield single to tie the 2014 Wild Card Game and an go-ahead RBI single in the clinching game of the 2015 World Series, both in the 12th inning. In all, Colon only got 348 (mostly unimpressive) regular season plate appearances for the Royals, but he was money in the 12th inning, and that’s what we’ll remember.

Chris Young was a late addition to the 2015 Royals, signing a contract in March to essentially be their 6th starter, but injuries to Jason Vargas and Danny Duffy, as well as the first-half struggles of Yordano Ventura pressed Young into a more prominent role. He was excellent, beating the Tigers, Yankees, and Cardinals in his first three starts, surrendering a total of one run in the process. He posted a 3.06 ERA on the season, and he was the Royals’ fourth starter in the postseason. His biggest moment was holding the Mets scoreless in the 12th, 13th, and 14th innings of Game 1, ultimately becoming the winning pitcher. The Royals then re-signed him to an ill-fated two-year deal, but let’s focus on the good times.


Christian Colon or Chris Young?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    Christian Colon
    (122 votes)
  • 61%
    Chris Young
    (199 votes)
321 votes total Vote Now

#3 Darryl Motley vs. #14 Dane Iorg

This is a match-up between the players who put the Royals ahead for good in games 6 and 7 in the 1985 World Series. One thing you notice when you go back and watch the 1985 series is that the players bear little resemblance to modern ballplayers. Many of them look like stick figures compared to today’s players. Darryl Motley is an exception. Short and well-built, Motley possessed both power and speed, but he had a hard time really utilizing either consistently on the field. He had a nice rookie season in 1984, hitting .284 with 15 home runs, but his average plummeted to .222 in 1985, and he was reduced to a platoon role (though he did hit more home runs—17—in fewer at-bats). He drew the start against lefty John Tudor in game 7, and in his first at-bat in the second inning, he launched a ball down the line to left. He tried to coax the ball fair, but it just barely missed the pole. I remember my dad groaning and saying that no one ever follows a foul home run with a real one, but just as he finished saying that, Motley got hold of another low pitch over the heart of the plate and launched it deep over the left field fence for a no-doubt, go-ahead, two-run home run. Motley collected three hits in the 11-0 series-clinching blowout, caught the final out in right field, and his home run started it all.

His numbers further deteriorated in 1986, and he was traded midseason to Atlanta, where he only collected a few more Major League at-bats, bouncing around the minors for a few more years before calling it quits after the 1990 season.

Darryl Motley - Kansas City Royals

Dane Iorg survived the play-in match-up against Jorge Orta, whose game 6 contribution was tainted (although his Royals career was better). Iorg lives in Royals lore as the one who lifted a bloop single into right field with one out and the bases loaded, a sure enough and slow enough hit to score Jim Sundberg from second base with the winning run, giving a chance for Motley and Saberhagen to be game 7 heroes.


Darryl Motley or Dane Iorg?

This poll is closed

  • 70%
    Darryl Motley
    (210 votes)
  • 29%
    Dane Iorg
    (86 votes)
296 votes total Vote Now

#6 Edinson Volquez vs. #11 Ben Zobrist

When James Shields left as a free agent after the 2014 season, he left a big hole at the top of the staff. Edinson Volquez was not supposed to replace Shields by himself; Yordano Ventura got the Opening Day start and midseason acquisition Johnny Cueto got the game 1 start in the playoffs. Volquez, according to bWAR, was not even the most valuable free agent starter they signed that year (Chris Young beat him by 0.1 bWAR). But while Ventura and Cueto were inconsistent, Volquez was steady, and it was Volquez who got the ball in game 1 in both the ALCS and the World Series, and the Royals won both. Royals fans remember how he pitched game 1 unaware his father had passed away, and his gutsy game 5 performance dedicated to his late father set up the epic comeback in the championship-clinching game.

Before coming to the Royals, Ben Zobrist played several seasons with the Rays as an incognito superstar, whose value was only really known to fans who dabbled in the Sabermetric arts. When the Royals acquired him from the fading A’s, he was the perfect acquisition at the perfect time, someone who could fill in for the injured Alex Gordon and then replace slumping second baseman Omar Infante. Zobrist didn’t disappoint, hitting .303 in the postseason with eight doubles and two home runs, playing a key role in many of the Royals signature comebacks along the way.


Edinson Volquez or Ben Zobrist?

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    Edinson Volquez
    (144 votes)
  • 55%
    Ben Zobrist
    (178 votes)
322 votes total Vote Now

What are your favorite memories from the fleeting moments of glory with these Royals?