Opinion

Two eras of KC’s playoff teams have similarities

Ben Zobrist doubled in Game 1 of the World Series, one of his eight two-base hits this postseason.
Ben Zobrist doubled in Game 1 of the World Series, one of his eight two-base hits this postseason. jsleezer@kcstar.com

The Royals’ postseason history is divided by separate eras. The first lasted a decade, from 1976-1985 and included 43 games and two World Series appearances. The second, which started last season, has 31 games and two more World Series.

Both involved an ascent with a first shot at the World Series ending in disappointment. But in both cases, some of the major players stayed together and were joined by fresh faces to put the Royals over the top.

Three decades ago, it was George Brett, Frank White, Hal McRae and Willie Wilson, joined by a young pitching staff who created the chemistry for a World Series title.

This season, the circle of familiar names is longer. Six position players — outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Alex Gordon; infielders Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar and Mike Moustakas; and catcher Salvador Perez — played in all 31 postseason games in the last two years. Yordano Ventura was the only returning starting pitcher. Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera and Danny Duffy returned in the bullpen.

Newcomers such as second baseman Ben Zobrist, designated hitter Kendrys Morales, right fielder Alex Rios and pitchers Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, Chris Young and Ryan Madson were the newcomers who helped push the Royals to a championship level.

A look back in photos and video as the Kansas City Royals clinched the ALCS title, and defeated the New York Mets in five games to win their first World Series Championship since 1985.

An end date has not been applied to the current era. More success may await. As for which title team was better, Brett offered his opinion at the Union Station celebration Tuesday.

“After watching them play the last two years, I want to congratulate them for two things: winning the World Series in 2015 and becoming the greatest team in Kansas City Royal history,” Brett said. “These guys are the best team ever.”

Perhaps. But the 1985 championship team was in its seventh postseason in 10 years, longevity that may not be possible with today’s financial structure.

But the eras stand together on career leader charts. Here are the top five in primary batting and pitching lists that encompass the Royals’ postseason history:

Royals career postseason leaders

Batting average (min. 30 at-bats)

.375

Willie Aikens

15 for 40

1980-81

.337

George Brett

56 for 166

1976-85

.333

Clint Hurdle

11 for 33

1978-81

.311

Alcides Escobar

42 for 135

2014-15

.306

Freddie Patek

15 for 49

1976-78

Runs

30

George Brett

1976-85

24

Lorenzo Cain

2014-15

21

Alcides Escobar

2014-15

18

Eric Hosmer

2014-15

17

Alex Gordon

2014-15

Hits

56

George Brett

1976-85

42

Alcides Escobar

2014-15

36

Lorenzo Cain

2014-15

35

Willie Wilson

1980-85

35

Eric Hosmer

2014-15

Doubles

11

Hal McRae

1976-85

10

Alex Gordon

2014-15

9

Alcides Escobar

2014-15

8

George Brett

1976-85

8

Ben Zobrist

2015

Triples

5

George Brett

1976-85

3

Alcides Escobar

2014-15

2

Willie Wilson

1978-85

1

Seven tied

 

Home runs

10

George Brett

1976-1985

6

Mike Moustakas

2014-15

5

Salvador Perez

2014-15

4

Willie Aikens

1980-81

4

Kendrys Morales

2015

RBIs

29

Eric Hosmer

2014-15

23

George Brett

1976-85

19

Lorenzo Cain

2014-15

17

Alex Gordon

2014-15

16

Frank White

1976-85

Stolen bases

8

Amos Otis

1976-81

8

Lorenzo Cain

2014-15

6

Willie Wilson

1978-85

4

Frank White

1976-85

4

Alex Gordon

2014-15

4

Jarrod Dyson

2014-15

4

Terrance Gore

2014-15

Pitching victories

3

Dennis Leonard

1976-81

3

Dan Quisenberry

1980-85

3

Wade Davis

2014-15

2

10 tied

 

Innings pitched

50

Dennis Leonard

1976-81

46  1/3

Yordano Ventura

2014-15

39  2/3

Charlie Leibrandt

1984-85

38  2/3

Paul Splittorff

1976-80

33  1/3

Bret Saberhagen

1984-85

Games pitched

22

Kelvin Herrera

2014-15

20

Wade Davis

2014-15

18

Dan Quisenberry

1980-85

11

Greg Holland

2014

10

Dennis Leonard

1976-81

10

Yordano Ventura

2014-15

Games started

9

Dennis Leonard

1976-81

9

Yordano Ventura

2014-15

8

Larry Gura

1976-81

5

Four tied

 

ERA (minimum 10 innings)

0.00 (10  2/3 innings)

Luke Hochevar

2015

0.36 (25)

Wade Davis

2014-15

0.82 (11)

Greg Holland

2014

1.04 (26)

Danny Jackson

1985

1.26 (28  2/3 )

Kelvin Herrera

2014-15

Strikeouts

38

Wade Davis

2014-15

38

Kelvin Herrera

2014-15

36

Yordano Ventura

2014-15

31

Dennis Leonard

1976-81

23

Edinson Volquez

2015

Saves

7

Greg Holland

2014

4

Wade Davis

2014-15

3

Dan Quisenberry

1980-85

1

Steve Mingori

1976-78

Individual accomplishments this postseason

Alcides Escobar: 15-game hitting streak, longest in Royals postseason history

Ben Zobrist: Eight doubles tied a major-league record for a single postseason, matching the totals of David Freese and Albert Pujols, who each had eight for the Cardinals in 2011.

Eric Hosmer: In addition to setting the Royals’ career postseason RBI record, his 17 RBIs this year set a club record and fell four short of baseball’s record for a postseason.

Lorenzo Cain: Reached safely in all 16 postseason games and the last four of 2014, extending his club record for reaching base to 20 games.

Wade Davis: Ran his postseason scoreless innings streak to 20  2/3 innings

Ned Yost: His 22-9 record for a .710 winning percentage in playoff games ranks eighth in baseball history and is first among the 24 managers who have won at least 20 games.

Royals lineup: The Royals used the same eight position players in the lineup in all 16 postseason games and the same lineup overall for the first 13 games of the postseason. According to Elias Sports Bureau, 12 games with the same lineup had been the record, set by the 2005 White Sox.

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