World Series: Root for the Mets or Royals? You should love these guys
The 2015 World Series opens Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., with the Royals hosting the New York Mets. It's the first time these teams are meeting in the postseason, and while there isn't a lot of history between them, they can count some familiar baseball names as common alumni.
A quick look at Baseball-Reference.com shows that a total of 106 position players and pitchers have appeared in the Major Leagues for both the Mets and the Royals, only one of whom is on either team's active roster for this World Series. Let's start with him as we look at the (completely objective) all-time top 10.
10. Chris Young, starting pitcher (Mets 2011-2012; Royals 2015)
Young, a 36-year-old right-hander, will start Game 4 of the Series at Citi Field in New York. This year, in his first season with the Royals, he placed among the American League leaders in win-loss percentage with an 11-6 record and a 3.06 ERA. He was a 2007 All-Star with the San Diego Padres, and spent two injury-plagued years with the Mets earlier this decade.
9. Jerry Grote, catcher (Mets 1966-1977; Royals 1981)
Recognized as a standout defensive player and starting catcher for the 1969 World Series winners and 1973 National League champions, Grote was a durable backstop for the Mets for 12 years. He was an All-Star in 1968 and 1974, and also played for the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers. During his last season in the majors, he appeared in 22 games for the Royals.
8. Gregg Jefferies, infielder (Mets 1987-1991; Royals 1992)
Drafted by the Mets before he even turned 18, Jefferies was one of the most highly-touted prospects of his generation, and posted a .354 batting average in three minor league seasons before a late 1987 call-up. But he never found a defensive position with the Mets, shuffling between second and third base, and was eventually included in a trade between the Mets and Royals after the 1991 season that included two other players on this list. Jefferies later made two All-Star teams with the Cardinals in the mid-1990s.
7. Rick Reed, starting pitcher (Royals 1992-1993; Mets 1997-2001)
A teammate of Jefferies' on the '92 Royals, Reed started 18 games for Kansas City that year, then bounced around the majors and minors for the next four seasons -- including a stint as a replacement player at the tail end of the 1994-1995 players' strike. Beginning in 1997, he was a mainstay in the Mets' rotation for five years, winning 59 games and starting the only game won by the Amazin's the last time they appeared in a World Series, in 2000.
6. Kevin McReynolds, left fielder (Mets 1987-1991, 1994; Royals 1992-1993)
Acquired by the Mets via trade following their 1986 championship, McReynolds was a solid if unspectacular performer who finished third in the National League MVP voting (one spot behind teammate Darryl Strawberry) when New York returned to the playoffs in 1988. He was traded, with Jefferies, to the Royals in December 1991, spending two seasons in Missouri and returning to the Mets in exchange for speedster Vince Coleman in 1994.
5. Amos Otis, center fielder (Mets 1967, 1969; Royals 1970-1983)
In one of the all-time lopsided baseball trades, Otis -- who'd been tried out as a third baseman by the Mets -- was transferred to the Royals following the 1969 season. The Mets' return was third baseman Joe Foy, who lasted only one season in New York. Meanwhile, Otis became one of the best players in Royals history, settling into center field for the next 14 seasons. He made five All-Star squads and was a member of five playoff teams in Kansas City.
4. Kevin Appier, starting pitcher (Royals 1989-1999, 2003-2004; Mets 2001)
Excelling in obscurity as the Royals began to fall on hard times in the 1990s, Appier cut through the heart of the Steroid Era as one of the American League's toughest and most consistent right-handers. From 1990 through 1997, his ERA was 40 percent better than the league average over that eight-season period. A 1995 All-Star, Appier came to New York in 2001 and tied for the Mets' team lead in wins during his only season there. He finished his career back in Kansas City in 2004.
3. David Cone, starting pitcher (Royals 1986, 1993-1994; Mets 1987-1992, 2003)
Kansas City native David Cone made his Major League debut for his hometown Royals in 1986, but was quickly shipped to the Mets in what became another of those lopsided trades: Cone for Mets backup catcher Ed Hearn. The right-hander soon made his mark, winning 20 games for the 1988 Mets and striking out a team record-tying 19 batters in a 1991 game. He later returned to the Royals, winning the 1994 American League Cy Young Award. Yet despite those formidable stats, he's actually best known for his accomplishments from 1995 to 2000 with the Yankees -- a comeback from a career-threatening aneurysm, another 20-win season, a perfect game, and four world championships.
2. Bret Saberhagen, starting pitcher (Royals 1984-1991, Mets 1992-1995)
Saberhagen is chiefly responsible for the most iconic image in Royals history, leaping into the arms of Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett after pitching a complete game shutout -- at age 21, no less -- in Game 7 of the 1985 World Series, delivering a championship to Kansas City. Soon after, Saberhagen won his first of two career Cy Young Awards. He was the centerpiece of the 1991 trade that sent McReynolds and Jefferies to the Royals, and made his third and final All-Star team as a Met in 1994.
1. Carlos Beltran, center fielder (Royals 1998-2004, Mets 2005-2011)
Mets fans who still cringe at the thought of Beltran's season-ending strikeout in the 2006 playoffs may not want to acknowledge this, but there is no argument: He is the best player who has ever donned the uniforms of both the Mets and Royals. Following a September call-up to the Royals in 1998, Beltran easily won the 1999 American League Rookie of the Year Award and quietly starred for five more years before a midseason trade to Houston in 2004. He parlayed an outstanding postseason performance into a long-term contract with the Mets, and made five All-Star teams in his seven years in Flushing. Now with the Yankees, Beltran has an outside shot at getting 3,000 career hits and can make a very good case to be the first Mets-Royals hybrid to make the Hall of Fame.
Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5’s evening news anchor. His all-time favorite baseball player is ex-Met Darryl Strawberry. Follow Patrick on Twitter @plavery1015, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and listen for his live reports Monday through Thursday nights between 6:30 and 11 p.m.