|New Baseball Players Pace 1975 Royals |
The team's hustling all-around play made new manager, Whitey Herzog smile a lot during the last months of the season
One of the most successful expansion teams in baseball history, the Kansas City Royals, after joining the majors in 1969, finished either first or second in 11of its first 20 seasons.
The additions of future Hal of Famer third baseman George Brett and line-drive hitting outfielder Hal McRae in '73, along with shortstop Freddie Patek in '71and slugging first baseman John Mayberry in '72, gave Royals' fans high hopes for the upcoming 1975 season.
Starting pitcher Jim Busby, a rookie in '72, provided the team with clutch-pitching during '75. After ringing-up a sterling 22-14 record in '74, the 6-ft, 2-inch, 205-pounder posted a 18-12 mark with a nice 3.08 ERA in a team-high 260.3 innings. Dennis Leonard went 15-7 and veteran mound master Al Fitzmorris finished at 16-12. Reliever Doug Bird posted a 9-6 record and collected a team-high 11 saves.
Brett, a rookie boy wonder, quickly established himself when he joined the team in '73 as a 20-year old and became the star of the franchise.
During the '73 season, Royals' owner Ewing Kauffman, a patent-medicine multi-millionaire, moved the team into a newly built Royals Stadium. And in mid-'75 replaced manager Jack McKeon with Herzog.
In 1975, the Royals finished the year in second place in the American League West Division after battling the division winning the Oakland A's. Kansas City played 91-71 ball - the first time in team history that they posted 90 wins.
baseballhistorian.com - Kansas City Royals 1975
* Amos Otis, Outfielder - one of the most popular players in Royals history, the fleet-footed flyhawk had the stadium rockin' and chantin' AO!AO! whenever he strode into the batter box... a five-time All-Star, he was the first Royals' player to play in an All-Star Game. In '71, Otis led the AL in stolen bases with 52, including a record tying 5 in a single game... in '75 he hit .247, with 26 doubles, 6 triples, 9 homers, stole 39 bases in 50 attempts, scored 87 runs, 46 RBIs and walked more times than he struck out - 66-to-48.
* Freddie Patek, Shortstop - a well-liked player, the defensive star shortstop was a 'good buddy' team-player... he was traded from Pittsburgh in '71 after his first three major league seasons... he led the AL in doubles plays while playing in KC - three straight times - 1971-73... an outstanding hit-and-run hitter, in 1975, Patek hit .228, stole 32 bases in 39 attempts, and scored 58 runs.
* Cookie Rojas, Second Baseman/OF/SS - an excellent all-around defensive player, he debuted into the majors back in '62... he led the NL in putouts in '67 and in '68 led his league's second baseman in double-plays and fielding percentage... in 1975, the Cuban born Rojas hit .254 with 18 doubles in 120 games.
* Jim Wohlford, Outfielder/DH - a line-drive hitter, he broke into the majors with the Royals in '72... in 1975, the 5-ft, 11-inch, 175-pounder batted .255, lined 10 doubles, and scored 45 runs in 353 at-bats.
* Fran Healy, Catcher - the muscular, 6-ft, 3-inch, 230-pound backstop has been in the majors since '69... in '74 Francis Healy hit .252, with 9 homers, 53 RBIs in 139 games... and this season, batted .255 in 56 games.
* Buck Martinez, Catcher - a well-regarded defensive stalwart, he's been on the squad since 1969... moved into a starters role this season - 1975 - John Martinez hit .266, with 14 extra base hits in 80 games.
* Tony Solaita, OF/IF/DH - a power-packed hitter, he joined the Royals in '74... this season he slugged 11 doubles, and 16 home runs, with 44 RBIs and hit .260 with 60 hits in 231 at-bats in 93 games.
Ranked by Pitching Wins - 1975
Steve Busby 18-12... Al Fitzmorris 16-12... Dennis Leonard 15-7... Marty Pattin 10-10... Doug Bird 9-6... Paul Splittorff 9-10... Nelson Briles 6-6...
Lindy McDaniel 5-1... Bob McClure 1-0... Ray Sadecki 1-0... Mark Littell 1-2... Steve Mingori 0-3... George Throop 0-0... Bruce Dal Canton 0-2...
* Al Fitzmorris, Starting Pitcher - a durable mound-star - he broke in with the Royals as a rookie in '69... used mainly as a starter and long-reliever the first couple of seasons, he was moved into the starting rotation and from 1973-to-1976 posted W/L records of 8-3, 13-6, 16-12 and 15-11 before being traded to Cleveland.
* Dennis Leonard, Starting Pitcher - played a major role in the Royals success in 1975... went 0-4 as a rookie last season ('74)... compiled a brilliant 15-7 record, with a 3.77 ERA in 212.3 innings, and completed 8-of-30 starts. He went on to post three 20 game win seasons, all with Kansas City - 20-12 in '77... 21-17 in '78 and 20-11 in 1980... and rang up a lifetime record of 144-106.
* Doug Bird, Reliever - one of the top closers in the majors during this era... he appeared in 54 games, posted a 4-4 record, 3.00 ERA, had 20 saves in his rookie season of '73... was 7-6, with 10 saves in '74... and sparked the team in '75 with a 9-6 mark, 3.25 ERA, 11 saves in 105 innings of work.
* Steve Mingori, Relief Pitcher - born in Kansas City, MO... pitched first three years for Cleveland and was traded to Royals in late-'73... was 2-3 W/L, had 2 saves, a low .281ERA in 36 games in '74... compiled a record of 0-3, with 2 saves in '75, working 36 games with a low 2.50 ERA. Mingori pitched for the Royals until he retired in '79 after A stellar 10-year major league career... Career record - 18-33 W/L with a sterling 3.03 ERA in 385 games, 584 2/3 innings with 42 saves.