The Kansas City Royals were established as an MLB team in time for the 1969 season. It took the franchise a full 50 years before it produced a hitter that slugged more than 40 home runs in a season. But of course, they’ve now watched two players surpass that benchmark in the span of three seasons. Who else is among the Royals home run leaders for a single season at the moment? Check it out below to find out.
Royals Home Run Leaders: Top 5
Jorge Soler: 48 Home Runs in 2019
As of this writing, Jorge Soler just took his talents to South Beach to become the Miami Marlins’ newest power source, but that didn’t happen before he made his mark elsewhere. The right-handed hitter has finished with an OPS higher than .900 in just one season, which was indeed 2019 when he posted a .922 mark in Kansas City. His 48 homers also marked the first time he hit more than 20 in one campaign.
Talk about announcing yourself with authority, right?
While Soler’s power production looked even when comparing his first half (23 homers, 59 RBI) to the second half (25 homers, 58 RBI), his OPS spiked by more than 200 points, going from .805 to 1.076. His OPS progressively got better each month following a slow-ish start. Here’s how it read from April to September: .765, .808, .827, .954, 1.079, and 1.136. He also slugged 20 of his 48 homers in August and September alone.
To get more videos and interesting stats about both Soler’s campaign and the dude below him here, check out what we had to say about them as the co-owners of KC’s single-season home run record and as the league’s leaders during their respective campaigns.
Salvador Perez: 48 Home Runs in 2021
Salvador Perez enjoyed four straight seasons of 20-plus homers for the Royals from 2015-18, but because of an injury and a pandemic, he didn’t get a chance to play a full season again until 2021. And boy, he certainly made the wait worthwhile, didn’t he?
The veteran backstop posted consecutive years of 27 homers and 80 RBI in 2017 and 2018, which were his career-high marks heading into 2021. Of course, he matched that number of dingers in just 302 plate appearances following the All-Star break this past year. Similar to Soler, Perez saved his best power display for the end, slugging 22 of his 48 dingers in August and September.
Salvy also absolutely raked against left-handed pitching. He slashed .302/.342/.640 with 18 homers and 36 RBI in just 184 plate appearances for that specific split. Get a full rundown of his career year from SB Nation’s Royals Review.
Mike Moustakas: 38 Home Runs in 2017
Although Mike Moustakas couldn’t break the 40-homer plateau, he at least settled for taking the franchise home run crown from Steve Balboni. He followed this up with another 35-homer campaign for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2019, but the 38-dinger outburst from Moose came a bit out of nowhere.
It wasn’t that he didn’t display power consistently. Just…not at this level. In the four full years he played prior to breaking the record, he accumulated two seasons of at least 20 homers, with his career-high mark being 22.
For Moustakas, though, this was a case of him getting the job done in specific ways and at specific times. He slugged 24 of his 38 homers on the road and he accumulated 25 dingers once the All-Star break rolled around. The infielder collected another 13 bombs to break the franchise record, but his slugging percentage dropped about 90 points between the first and second half. And, just as his power peaked in the middle of the season, it fell off over the final two months. After hitting eight homers in June and another nine in July, Moustakas combined to hit just eight in August and September.
Steve Balboni: 36 Home Runs in 1985
Balboni hit just 181 career homers, and he did the majority of his damage over a small span of time. Between 1984 and 1988, he registered five straight seasons of 20-plus homers, with his lone 30-homer performance coming in 1985 for the Royals.
When looking at his monthly split, it looked like he had two different seasons in the power department. By the end of June, Balboni had 13 homers for Kansas City. Nothing to scoff at, but it also didn’t seem like he was destined to flit with the 40-homer plateau, either. From the beginning of July through the end of the year, he caught fire and slugged 23 homers as the Royals prepared for their World Series run.
Balboni didn’t even record an extra-base hit during his postseason career (1984 and 1985 with KC), but he did slash .320/.433/.320 in the 1985 World Series. It’s pretty awesome when you can break the franchise’s single-season home run record and win a title in the same year, right? Right.
Gary Gaetti: 35 Home Runs in 1995
Can you believe there’s no footage on YouTube of Gary Gaetti slugging a home run for the Royals? (At least, there’s nothing I can find.) Either way, the infielder spent parts of three seasons with Kansas City out of his 20-year career and nearly etched his name atop the franchise’s single-season home run leaderboard at the time in 1995.
Gaetti won a Silver Slugger award while slashing .261/.329/.518 with those 35 homers and 96 RBI. He also placed 10th in AL MVP voting. His performance was quite similar when looking at his home/road splits (.849 OPS vs. .843 OPS) and first-half/second-half splits (.856 OPS vs. .837 OPS). However, August is what put him within earshot of Balboni in the first place, slashing .313/.405/.677 in 117 plate appearances.
This included his highest monthly homer output (10) and his second-highest RBI output (22). It was a welcome change from the previous two months, in which he combined to slug nine homers with 29 RBI and an OPS that didn’t crack .800.
Royals Home Run Leaders: The Rest
John Mayberry (34 in 1975), Danny Tartabull (34 in 1987), Dean Palmer (34 in 1998), Jermaine Dye (33 in 2000), and Bo Jackson (32 in 1989) all make up the rest of the Royals’ top 10. Find the full list here, via FanGraphs.