Today’s Random Player From The Baseball Project That May Or May Not Amount To Anything is Amos Otis. Otis was drafted in the fifth round of the 1965 June Amateur Draft by the Boston Red Sox. This was the first year of the June draft and Otis was arguably the third best player taken. The other two that rank clearly ahead of him are Graig Nettles (taken in the fourth round) and Johnny Bench (second round). Rick Monday was a nice player for many years (he was taken first overall), and Andy Messersmith had some nice seasons, too (he was a third round pick), but I think Otis would rank third.
Anyway, Otis was left unprotected and was selected by the Mets in the 1966 minor league draft after a brief stay in the big leagues the Mets traded him to the expansion Kansas City Royals in the winter of 1969. This would turn out to be one of – if not the – worst trade in Mets’ history. The Mets sent pitcher Bob Johnson with Otis to get Joe Foy in return, hoping to fill a void at third base. Foy played only 99 games for the Mets and only 41 more after that. In 1970 Otis started to flourish, hitting .284/353/.424 with a league leading 36 doubles and made his first All-Star team. The next year Otis led the league with 52 stolen bases while getting caught only eight times as the Royals posted their first winning season in the franchise’s brief history. By 1973 he had made four All-Star teams and the Royals were becoming the American League’s model franchise. Otis and pitcher Paul Splittorff were now complimented by young guys such as Frank White, John Mayberry, and George Brett. By 1975 the Royals had their first 90-win season, though they finished second in the AL West by seven games. In 1976 the Royals finally reached the postseason, but it would be bittersweet for Otis. His 1976 postseason last only one at-bat. Trailing 2-0 after a couple of George Brett errors, Otis led off the bottom half of the first with a bunt attempt. As he tried to beat Catfish Hunter’s throw to first he sprained his ankle and missed the remainder of the five game series, which was won on Chris Chambliss’s ninth inning homer in Game 5.
The following year the Royals won a franchise record 102 games and again faced the Yankees in the ALCS. The Yankees again took the series in five games and Otis had another postseason to forget, going just 2 for 16 with a double and a couple of walks. The Yankees got the better of the Royals again in 1978, this despite Otis’ .429/.529/.571 with four steals (also ruined was Brett’s .389 average with three homers a double, a triple and seven runs scored).
1980 was Otis’ first down year with K.C., posting an OPS+ below 100 for the first time. In the playoffs, though, the Royals finally got over a hump, knocking out the hated Yankees in a three game sweep. Otis was big for the Royals, going 4 for 12 with a couple of stolen bases and a couple of runs scored. In the World Series Otis was even better, hitting .478/.538/.957 with three homers and a couple of doubles. Despite his heroics (and George Brett’s .375/.423/.667 or Willie Mays Aikens’ four homers in the six games), the Phillies won their first World Series title over the Royals four games to two.
After three more seasons with the Royals, the aging Otis was granted free agency and signed with the Pirates. In 40 games he provided just a 19 OPS+ and his career was over.
Overall in Royals’ history he ranks second in WAR for position players runs scored, stolen bases, total bases, times on base, and sacrifice flies, third in games played, hits, homeruns, triples, and RBI, fourth in doubles and extra base hits, and first in power-speed number.* Also in that time he won three Gold Gloves, made five All-Star teams, and four times finished in the top ten in the AL MVP voting.
*-Power-Speed number is calculated:
|SB x HR x 2
|SB + HR|
Obviously, George Brett is the greatest player in Royals’ history. But the first great Royal? That’s got to be Amos Otis. For 14 seasons he patrolled center field in Kan)sas City, and while he falls short of the Hall of Fame credentials (49.42 score for my Hall of Fame Rating), he was a steal of a trade for a young franchise just getting their feet wet. In his time with the Royals the team was 1167-1033 – a real accomplishment considering he came over in the franchise’s second season. The franchise is most remembered for George Brett, Dan Quisenberry, Frank White, and Willie Wilson. Amos Otis should be every bit as remembered.