Mike Buttry compares the 2015 and 1985 Kansas City Royals

8 11 2015
Mike Buttry and Susie Burke at Kauffman Stadium for Game Two

Mike Buttry and Susie Burke at Kauffman Stadium for Game Two

This continues my family’s posts on the Kansas City Royals and their 2015 World Series victory. Because I had a busy week last week and wouldn’t have time to share all my observations on this year’s Royals as quickly as I wanted to, I invited my sons to write guest posts.

I told them I was working on a comparison of the 1985 and 2015  Royals. I will publish that shortly. I wasn’t planning on including a position-by-position breakdown, since I did that in comparing the 2015 Royals with the 1986 Red Sox (both got 2-0 leads on the Mets) and the 1985 Royals with the 2015 Mets (both fell behind 3-1 in World Series).

Mike, who watched Game Two this year in Kauffman Stadium (we watched Game Two there last year with his brothers), took the position-by-position approach to a comparison, so that’s today’s guest post (with editing links, visuals, editing and occasional commentary in italics from Dad):

Manager: Dick Howser vs. Ned Yost

Both had great runs, but I’d go with Howser because of how he played Bobby Cox in the ALCS. He won games for them. He might have lost Game Two of the ’85 World Series by leaving Charlie Leibrandt in too long.

Ned is fun to kick around but he really did almost cost them Game 6 against Toronto and the Wild Card game last year. Ned has to get a lot of credit for:

  1. The stuff you can’t see on the field. He has to be central to this team’s resilience and ability to show up to play every day.
  2. Making changes to the way he managed in the playoffs (e.g. Davis for two innings, he was tremendous in Game 7 last year).

Dad comments: I may address managing in my own comparison of the teams. Both were outstanding, and I echo Mike’s analysis here. For details on how Howser outmanaged Cox, click the Bobby Cox link above, where I explained in detail.  

Catcher: Jim Sundberg vs. Salvador Pérez

Pérez by a mile. I think Sal is the current Royal most likely to go to the Baseball Hall of Fame and I think he’s already an all-time Royal. He’s a special player, a joy to watch, handles pitchers well, elite defensively, and I think he’s just at the front-end of his potential as a power hitter. He was even more disciplined at the plate this year in the playoffs. It might be impossible to stay healthy at catcher, but I can’t wait to keep watching him.

Having said that, Sundberg‘s triple off the top of the wall in Game Seven against Toronto and scoring the winning run in Game Six of the 1985 World Series are probably the most excited I’ve ever been watching a baseball game.

Dad: I will elaborate in future posts on Pérez’s Hall of Fame prospects and his place among all-time Royal catchers. Though I agree completely with the choice of Pérez, I have to go with a Sundberg video here, though. Our memories of Sal’s heroics are pretty fresh, and the memory of that winning run in Game Six in ’85 is seared forever into the memories of Royal fans old enough (Mike was 8 at the time). But you may have forgotten that triple Mike mentioned: 

First base: Steve Balboni vs. Eric Hosmer

This one isn’t close either. Hos is already an All-Time Royal. Face and leader of the team. Big-game player. His run in Game 5 and his triple in the Wild Card game last year have to be in the Top 10 Royals plays of all-time (there’s your next post!). I think it’s special that you could see all the potential he had to be great (his swing was always amazing) and after years and years of busts or guys we couldn’t keep, Hos paid off the potential in spades.

Second base: Frank White vs. Ben Zobrist

Well, this one is close. If we’re judging by play in the World Series, it’s probably Z. But I’ll go with White because he is an all-time Royal and Z might just be passing through. White had a great World Series as well. Hit .250, played Frank White level defense and had one of their two home runs. Honorary mention for Julianna Zobrist for not having her baby during the series.

Shortstop: Buddy Biancalana vs. Alcides Escobar

No contest. #EskyMagic! One of the best in the game. Set the tone in his first at-bat. The best bad lead-off hitter in the game. I could make a case for him as the World Series MVP. He’ll have to settle for the ALCS.

Third: George Brett vs. Mike Moustakas

The GOAT vs. the Moose. The Royals are George Brett. Always. And he showed up in the World Series. Hit .370, .452 OBP, .859 OPS. Also stole a base which I don’t remember.

Left field: Lonnie Smith vs. Alex Gordon

Gordo was already an all-time Royal. Game 1 made him a Kansas City legend: 436 feet to dead center off a shut-down closer on a night when every ball died in the outfield. I don’t feel happier for anyone more than Gordo.

Dad: It was also a great contrast between how the last World Series ended, with Gordon at third base, 90 feet short of tying Game Seven. 

Center: Willie Wilson vs. Lorenzo Cain

This one is tough! Both had great series. Wilson hit better. Willie stole 3, Cain stole 4 (in fewer games). Willie had 3 RBIs, Cain had 4. I’m going with nostalgia on this one.

Dad: You just as easily could have chosen Cain based on his dash home that sent the Royals to the World Series.

Right field: Darryl Motley/Pat Sheridan vs. Álex Ríos

Motley gives the advantage to ’85 with his homer and last out in Game 7. Motley hit better than Sheridan. Ríos wasn’t great, but he was clutch.

Dad: Ríos’ losing track of the outs in Game Four also tips this in the ’85 team’s favor. The ’15 Royals made some potentially costly mistakes, but they overcame them.

DH: Hal McRae/Jorge Orta vs. Kendrys Morales

Went with ’85 here because of Orta’s speed from home to first. Not really a fair comparison because there wasn’t a DH in the ’85 series.

Dad: Heh.

Starting Pitching: ’85 vs. ’15

Both starting staffs were great in the series. The Chris Young and Edinson Vólquez stories were both tremendous. Going with ’85 because more was asked of those starters. Danny Jackson was nails and Sabes was Sabes. Gave up one run in two complete games. That’s insane!

Relief Pitching: ’85 vs. ’15

Come on! Wade F’ing Davis!! This bullpen is one for the ages. I love that Luke Hochevar, a bust who missed last year’s dream season, got the W in the clincher. 5IP, 2 hits, no runs for the Series.

Bench: ’85 vs. ’15

Ummmm, Dane Iorg vs. Christian Colón. I’m going with Iorg just because it was such an iconic hit. Both were great. The ’85 bench played more because pitchers hit in all seven games.

Dad: No argument, but I’ve already posted video of the Iorg hit recently, so I’ll post Colón‘s winning hit here.

Front office: John Schuerholz vs. Dayton Moore

Hard to believe they win without the mid-season trades for Zobrist and Johnny Cueto. Dayton went all-in in July and it paid off. I’ll try to remember that and be patient in three years when we have no starting pitchers. Also, signing Chris Young in March when nobody else in baseball wanted him was tremendous. Both teams have Art Stewart.

Overall

It looks like I gave more wins to the ’85 team (8-6), but the ’15 team is better and I don’t think it’s very close. ’85 wins some close categories, but the ’15 team is WAY better in the categories it wins (relief pitching, catcher, first, short, left). I think this is an all-time great team. I’d put them up against any other team since the Yankees dynasty. Would love to see them play the ’09 Yankees (I don’t think this needs to be a blog post, Dad. Dad: Don’t worry, but I might compare to the ’98 Yankees to keep you humble.).

I’d defer to THE Royal: Brett said ’15 would beat ’85 no questions asked. I agree.

Dad: I looked for a link to a story or video of Brett saying that and couldn’t find it, but I’m sure Mike did read or hear it. I found this Brett video, though, and this is a good place to end this post, with the 1985 team’s iconic star discussing the 2015 edition:

Still to come:

In coming posts (some could come as late as December), I’ll do my own comparison of the 1985 and 2015 Royals (not going position by position), project Hall of Fame prospects of some 2015 Royals and discuss who from the 2015 team is already on the all-time Royals team and what the chances are that others will join the team someday. And possibly some other ideas that will occur to me in the off-season.

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9 11 2015
Comparing the 1985 and 2015 Kansas City Royals | Hated Yankees

[…] I didn’t do the other comparisons in identical ways, and I won’t do this one either. The first comparison was based on some research because I truly didn’t know (and had a travel day and some insomnia induced by drugs used in my stem-cell harvest to give me a little time for that research). The second comparison was shorter (but still long), based on less research. Each of those started with a position-by-position comparison, but my son Mike covered that well in yesterday’s guest post. […]

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3 04 2016
The Royals’ greatest moments of championship seasons | Hated Yankees

[…] Game Two and Game Four in 2015 vicariously through Mike, who went to Kauffman Stadium for one and Tom, who wore his Moustakas jersey in Citi Field for the […]

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