1990 Kansas City Royals season

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1990 Kansas City Royals
Major League affiliations
Other information
Owner(s) Ewing Kauffman
Manager(s) John Wathan
Local television WDAF-TV
(Paul Splittorff, Denny Trease)
Local radio WIBW (AM)
(Denny Matthews, Fred White)
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The 1990 Kansas City Royals season was a season in American baseball. It involved the Royals finishing 6th in the American League West with a record of 75 wins and 86 losses.


Kansas City maintained their reputation as one of the American League West's top contenders throughout the late 1980s. The club posted a winning record in three of the last four seasons following their World Series championship season.[1] The Royals finished the 1989 season with a 92–70 record (third best record in franchise history) and a second place finish in the AL West seven games behind the season's World Series champion Oakland Athletics.[1] Though the team boasted a powerhouse bullpen in the AL Cy Young Award winner Bret Saberhagen (set franchise record with 23 wins in 1989), two time All-Star Mark Gubicza (15 game winner in 1989) and 1989 AL Rookie of the Year runner-up Tom Gordon (won 17 games in 1989),[2] the organization felt they were still missing a few pieces that would give the Oakland Athletics a run for their money.[3]

The Royals were left without a caliber closing pitcher when Dan Quisenberry, the team's All-Star ace closer for much of the 1980s, was dropped from the club in 1988. Mark Davis, last season's league leader in saves (44) and boasting a 1.85 earned run average with the San Diego Padres, became a free agent at the close of the 1989 season.[3] Kansas City had their eye on the 1989 National League Cy Young winner and back-to-back All-Star (1988, 1989), and after several attempts to acquire Davis, the organization was ultimately successful in signing him to a four-year $13 million contract (the largest annual salary in baseball history at the time).[4] Several days earlier, the Royals bulked up their bullpen by inking starting pitcher Storm Davis, who was enjoying a career-high 19 game win record (3rd best in the league) with the Athletics in 1989, on a three-year $6 million contract.[4] With a solid pitching rotation, which was now ranked among the best in the league, the team traded away starting pitcher Charlie Leibrandt and prospect Rick Luecken to the Atlanta Braves for 1988 All-Star first baseman Gerald Perry as an added offensive threat.[2] The Royals filled in their fifth starting pitching slot by signing yet another free agent with veteran right-hander Richard Dotson.[2] Kansas City concluded a milestone off-season as its biggest commitment to free agents in the club's entire history.[2]

With the Royals pitching cominded with offensive talent the likes of future Hall of Famer George Brett, Bo Jackson (1989 All-Star), Kevin Seitzer (1987 MLB hits league leader), Kurt Stillwell (1988 All-Star), Danny Tartabull and Bob Boone, preseason writers predicted Kansas City as the shoo-in for the 1990 AL West title.[3]


Regular season[edit]

Despite the promising off-season moves, the team suffered critical bullpen injuries while the newly signed Davis hurlers both experienced lackluster performances throughout the season.[3] The Royals concluded the 1990 campaign with a 75-86 finish and second-to-last place standing in the AL West (worst franchise record since 1970).[1] Though the team would bounce back with winning records during the next several years, the disastrous season would symbolically come to mark the beginning of the end of Kansas City's relevance in professional baseball.[3]

  • George Brett became a three decade batting champ by winning the 1990 American League Batting Title.
  • July 11, 1990: In a game against the Baltimore Orioles, Bo Jackson performed his famous "wall run", when he caught a ball approximately 2-3 strides away from the wall. As he caught the ball at full tilt, Jackson looked up and noticed the wall and began to run up the wall, one leg reaching higher as he ascended. He ran along the wall almost parallel to the ground, and came down with the catch, to avoid impact and the risk of injury from the fence.
  • August 31, 1990: Ken Griffey, Sr. and Ken Griffey, Jr. of the Seattle Mariners made history by being the first father and son to play in a game together. This historic game was played against the Royals.

Opening Day Roster[edit]

Season standings[edit]

AL West W L Pct. GB Home Road
Oakland Athletics 103 59 0.636 51–30 52–29
Chicago White Sox 94 68 0.580 9 49–31 45–37
Texas Rangers 83 79 0.512 20 47–35 36–44
California Angels 80 82 0.494 23 42–39 38–43
Seattle Mariners 77 85 0.475 26 38–43 39–42
Kansas City Royals 75 86 0.466 27½ 45–36 30–50
Minnesota Twins 74 88 0.457 29 41–40 33–48

Notable transactions[edit]


1990 Kansas City Royals
Pitchers Catchers


Outfielders Manager


Player stats[edit]

= Indicates team leader


Starters by position[edit]

Note: Pos = position; G = Games played; AB = At Bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting Average; HR = Home Runs; RBI = Runs Batted In

Pos Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
C Mike Macfarlane 124 400 102 .255 6 58
1B George Brett 142 544 179 .329 14 87
2B Frank White 82 241 52 .216 2 21
3B Kevin Seitzer 158 622 171 .275 6 38
SS Kurt Stillwell 144 506 126 .249 3 51
LF Jim Eisenreich 142 496 139 .280 5 51
CF Bo Jackson 111 405 110 .272 28 78
RF Danny Tartabull 88 313 84 .268 15 60
DH Gerald Perry 133 465 118 .254 8 57

Other batters[edit]

Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI


Starting pitchers[edit]

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Tom Gordon 32 195.1 12 11 3.73 175
Kevin Appier 32 185.2 12 8 2.76 127
Bret Saberhagen 20 135 5 9 3.27 87
Storm Davis 21 112 7 10 4.74 62
Mark Gubicza 16 94 4 7 4.50 71

Other pitchers[edit]

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Richard Dotson 8 28.2 0 4 8.48 9
Daryl Smith 2 6.2 0 1 4.05 6

Relief pitchers[edit]

Player G W L SV ERA SO

Awards and honors[edit]

All-Star Game

Farm system[edit]

Level Team League Manager
AAA Omaha Royals American Association Sal Rende
AA Memphis Chicks Southern League Jeff Cox
A Baseball City Royals Florida State League Brian Poldberg
A Appleton Foxes Midwest League Joe Breeden
Short-Season A Eugene Emeralds Northwest League Paul Kirsch
Rookie GCL Royals Gulf Coast League Carlos Tosca

LEAGUE CHAMPIONS: Omaha, Memphis[13]


  1. ^ a b c "Kansas City Royals Team History & Encyclopedia - Baseball-reference.com". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved April 16, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Horst, Craig (March 25, 1990). "Royals' lineup for 1990 is virtually set". The Daily Union. p. 15. Retrieved April 18, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Engel, Michael (December 17, 2011). "The Cautionary Tale of the 1990 Royals". Kings of Kauffman. FanSided. Retrieved April 17, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Nightengale, Bob (December 12, 1989). "Royals Sign Mark Davis to $13-Million Contract". Los Angeles Times. p. C1. Retrieved April 16, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Richard Dotson page at Baseball Reference
  6. ^ Storm page at Baseball Reference
  7. ^ Willie Wilson page at Baseball Reference
  8. ^ Mark Davis page at Baseball Reference
  9. ^ Charlie Leibrandt page at Baseball Reference
  10. ^ Steve Jeltz page at Baseball Reference
  11. ^ Mark Lee page at Baseball Reference
  12. ^ Pat Tabler page at Baseball Reference
  13. ^ Johnson, Lloyd, and Wolff, Miles, ed., The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, 2nd edition. Durham, N.C.: Baseball America, 1997