His big break came in 1999, when the Royals tried unsuccessfully to trade him during spring training. Riddled with injuries and with no other viable options, the Royals started using Sweeney as their regular designated hitter. After the sudden retirement of Jeff King, the Royals offered the first base job to rookie Jeremy Giambi. When Giambi showed reluctance, they gave the job to Sweeney, who responded by posting the highest fielding percentage by a regular first baseman in more than 20 years. His .322 batting average led the team and his 22 home runs and 102 RBI were second and third on the team, respectively. From July 18 to August 13, Sweeney had a hit in 25 consecutive games, collecting 42 hits total. The 25-game hitting streak is tied for third longest in Royals history with George Brett's 25-game streak in 1983, trailing only Brett's 30-game streak in 1980 and José Offerman's 27-game streak in 1998.
In 2000, Sweeney was selected to his first of five All-Star games. He joined Jermaine Dye to become the first pair of Royals to go to the Mid-Summer Classic since 1989 (Bo Jackson and Mark Gubicza). He passed the 100 RBI mark for the second straight year on August 13, 2000, reaching the century mark faster than any player in Royals history. He finished second in the league with a club record 144 RBI, behind only Seattle's Edgar Martínez's 145 RBI, and breaking Hal McRae's 1982 team mark of 133.
In June 2001, Sweeney hit .392 with 11 home runs and 29 RBI with a .794 slugging percentage and was named the American League Player of the Month for the only time in his career.
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