Hardball Retrospective – The “Original” 1980 Kansas City Royals

In “Hardball Retrospective: Evaluating Scouting and Development Outcomes for the Modern-Era Franchises”, I placed every ballplayer in the modern era (from 1901-present) on their original team. Consequently, Babe Ruth is listed on the Red Sox roster for the duration of his career while the Orioles claim Eddie Murray and the Cubs declare Lou Brock. I calculated revised standings for every season based entirely on the performance of each team’s “original” players. I discuss every team’s “original” players and seasons at length along with organizational performance with respect to the Amateur Draft (or First-Year Player Draft), amateur free agent signings and other methods of player acquisition.  Season standings, WAR and Win Shares totals for the “original” teams are compared against the “actual” team results to assess each franchise’s scouting, development and general management skills.

Expanding on my research for the book, the following series of articles will reveal the finest single-season rosters for every Major League organization based on overall rankings in OWAR and OWS along with the general managers and scouting directors that constructed the teams. “Hardball Retrospective” is available in digital format on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, GooglePlay, iTunes and KoboBooks. Additional information and a discussion forum are available at TuataraSoftware.com.

Terminology

OWAR – Wins Above Replacement for players on “original” teams

OWS – Win Shares for players on “original” teams

OPW% – Pythagorean Won-Loss record for the “original” teams

Assessment

The 1980 Kansas City Royals         OWAR: 42.6     OWS: 272     OPW%: .596

GM Cedric Tallis acquired two-thirds of the ballplayers on the 1980 Royals roster. The organization selected 24 of the 33 players during the Amateur Draft. Based on the revised standings the “Original” 1980 Royals amassed 97 victories and captured the American League pennant by a five-game margin over the Oakland Athletics.

George Brett was batting .337 when he returned to the lineup on July 10 following a month-long absence. “Mullet” went on an absolute tear, collecting 71 hits in 150 at-bats (.473 BA) and driving in 47 runs to boost his average to .401 on August 17. Brett hovered around the elusive .400 mark into the middle of September 1980 before settling for a .390 BA. In addition to securing his second batting title, he recorded personal-bests in RBI (118), OBP (.454) and SLG (.664) while collecting the American League MVP Award. Brett was selected to 13 consecutive All-Star contests (1976-1988), registered 3154 base hits and supplied a .305 career BA.

Fleet-footed left fielder Willie Wilson paced the Junior Circuit with 230 base knocks, 133 runs scored and 15 triples. He earned the Gold Glove Award, manufactured a .326 BA and nabbed 79 bags in 89 attempts after swiping 83 in the previous year. John “Duke” Wathan (.305/6/58) pilfered 17 bases and established a career-high in batting average while shortstop U.L. Washington contributed 11 three-baggers and stole 20 bases.

Outfield chores were handled by Wilson, Ruppert Jones, Clint Hurdle and Al Cowens. Jones backed the club’s baserunning endeavors with 18 stolen bases but otherwise yielded substandard output compared to the 21 home runs and 33 steals from his ’79 campaign. Cowens (.268/6/59) provided further proof that his runner-up finish in the 1977 AL MVP race was an outlier. Hurdle (.294/10/60) drilled 31 doubles and registered personal-bests in virtually every offensive category.

Slick-fielding second baseman Frank “Smooth” White collected six consecutive Gold Glove Awards from 1977-1982 while Rodney “Cool Breeze” Scott purloined 63 bases and legged out 13 three-base hits. Luis Salazar solidified the bench with a .337 BA following his mid-August promotion.

Brett placed second behind Mike Schmidt in “The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract” for the best third baseman of All-Time. White (31st) and Wilson (54th) finished in the top 100 at their positions while Dan Quisenberry placed sixty-eighth among pitchers. 

LINEUP POS WAR WS
Willie Wilson LF 7.86 31.52
Frank White 2B -0.08 12.93
George Brett 3B 8.36 36.2
Clint Hurdle RF 1.77 14.01
Al Cowens DH/RF -0.76 10.67
Ruppert Jones CF 0.84 7.2
John Wathan C 2.39 16.49
Ken Phelps 1B -0.06 0.01
U. L. Washington SS 2.1 16.13
BENCH POS WAR WS
Luis Salazar 3B 1.11 7.11
Rodney Scott 2B 0.36 13.18
Jim Wohlford LF 0.36 4.92
Jamie Quirk 3B 0.06 3.47
German Barranca 0 0
Onix Concepcion SS -0.18 0.05
Jeff Cox 2B -0.78 1.32

Dennis Leonard eclipsed the 20-win plateau for the third time in four seasons. Pacing the circuit with 38 starts, Leonard also served up the most gopher balls (30) and earned runs (118) in the American League. Rich Gale (13-9, 3.92), Renie Martin (10-10, 4.39) and Paul Splittorff (14-11, 4.05) provided adequate support in the starting rotation.

The back-end of the bullpen pitched “lights-out” ball for the Royal Blue crew. Dan Quisenberry perplexed the opposition with his unorthodox delivery. “Quiz” tallied 12 victories and topped the leader boards with 33 saves and 75 appearances. Rookie right-hander Doug Corbett (8-6, 1.98) saved 23 contests and finished third in the 1980 AL Rookie of the Year vote. Greg “Moon-Man” Minton added 19 saves and fashioned a 2.46 ERA while Aurelio “Señor Smoke” recorded 13 wins in relief.

ROTATION POS WAR WS
Dennis Leonard SP 3.28 17.1
Rich Gale SP 1.78 10.92
Paul Splittorff SP 1.48 10.31
Renie Martin SP -0.72 5.03
Steve Busby SP -0.61 0
BULLPEN POS WAR WS
Doug Corbett RP 5.8 23.88
Dan Quisenberry RP 2.38 19.09
Greg Minton RP 1.5 12.69
Bob McClure RP 1.42 7.9
Bobby Castillo RP 1.19 9.72
Doug Bird RP 0.82 4.89
Aurelio Lopez RP 0.79 12.85
Mark Souza RP -0.27 0
Craig Chamberlain RP -0.35 0
Mike C. Jones SP -0.41 0
Jeff Twitty RP -0.61 0.06
Mark Littell RP -0.67 0

 The “Original” 1980 Kansas City Royals roster

NAME POS WAR WS General Manager Scouting Director
George Brett 3B 8.36 36.2 Cedric Tallis Lou Gorman
Willie Wilson LF 7.86 31.52 Cedric Tallis Lou Gorman
Doug Corbett RP 5.8 23.88 Cedric Tallis Lou Gorman
Dennis Leonard SP 3.28 17.1 Cedric Tallis Lou Gorman
John Wathan C 2.39 16.49 Cedric Tallis Lou Gorman
Dan Quisenberry RP 2.38 19.09 Joe Burke Lou Gorman
U. L. Washington SS 2.1 16.13 Cedric Tallis Lou Gorman
Rich Gale SP 1.78 10.92 Joe Burke Lou Gorman
Clint Hurdle RF 1.77 14.01 Joe Burke Lou Gorman
Greg Minton RP 1.5 12.69 Cedric Tallis Lou Gorman
Paul Splittorff SP 1.48 10.31 Cedric Tallis Charlie Metro
Bob McClure RP 1.42 7.9 Cedric Tallis Lou Gorman
Bobby Castillo RP 1.19 9.72 Cedric Tallis Lou Gorman
Luis Salazar 3B 1.11 7.11 Cedric Tallis Lou Gorman
Ruppert Jones CF 0.84 7.2 Cedric Tallis Lou Gorman
Doug Bird RP 0.82 4.89 Cedric Tallis Charlie Metro
Aurelio Lopez RP 0.79 12.85 Joe Burke Lou Gorman
Jim Wohlford LF 0.36 4.92 Cedric Tallis Lou Gorman
Rodney Scott 2B 0.36 13.18 Cedric Tallis Lou Gorman
Jamie Quirk 3B 0.06 3.47 Cedric Tallis Lou Gorman
German Barranca 0 0 Joe Burke Lou Gorman
Ken Phelps 1B -0.06 0.01 Joe Burke
Frank White 2B -0.08 12.93 Cedric Tallis Lou Gorman
Onix Concepcion SS -0.18 0.05 Joe Burke
Mark Souza RP -0.27 0 Cedric Tallis Lou Gorman
Craig Chamberlain RP -0.35 0 Joe Burke John Schuerholz
Mike Jones SP -0.41 0 Joe Burke John Schuerholz
Steve Busby SP -0.61 0 Cedric Tallis Lou Gorman
Jeff Twitty RP -0.61 0.06 Joe Burke John Schuerholz
Mark Littell RP -0.67 0 Cedric Tallis Lou Gorman
Renie Martin SP -0.72 5.03 Joe Burke John Schuerholz
Al Cowens RF -0.76 10.67 Cedric Tallis Charlie Metro
Jeff Cox 2B -0.78 1.32 Cedric Tallis Lou Gorman

Honorable Mention

The “Original” 2009 Royals                OWAR: 45.7     OWS: 268     OPW%: .544

Zack Greinke (16-8, 2.16) claimed the 2009 AL Cy Young Award while pacing the League in ERA and WHIP (1.073). Carlos Beltran furnished a .325 BA despite missing all of July and August due to injury. Johnny Damon (.282/24/82) slashed 36 two-base hits and scored 107 runs. Billy “Country Breakfast” Butler clubbed 51 doubles and launched 21 long balls while batting .301.

On Deck

The “Original” 2012 Rays

References and Resources

Baseball America – Executive Database

Baseball-Reference

James, Bill. The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. New York, NY.: The Free Press, 2001. Print.

James, Bill, with Jim Henzler. Win Shares. Morton Grove, Ill.: STATS, 2002. Print.

Retrosheet – Transactions Database – Transaction a – Executive

Seamheads – Baseball Gauge

Sean Lahman Baseball Archive

 



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Derek Bain is a New Jersey native with a passion for baseball, statistics, computers and video games. He has written a number of articles for Fangraphs and Seamheads, and enjoys spending quality time with his family.

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