A free-swinging right-handed power hitter with a barrel chest and a mustachioed face, Balboni hit 152 home runs in the minors from 1979 to 1983, leading his league in round trippers each season from 1979 to 1982. After three largely unsuccessful trial runs with the Yankees in the early 80’s, he was acquired by the Royals to replace Willie Aikens and averaged nearly 30 homers over the next four seasons, reaching a high of 36 with Kansas City’s 1985 World Championship club. However, the streaky low-average hitter (he never batted above .244) set a team record with 166 strikeouts that year, a total that led the AL. He once struck out in nine consecutive plate appearances and in 13 straight games.
Balboni led league first basemen in errors in 1986 and tied for the lead in 1984, and served primarily as a DH after back trouble further reduced his mobility. Released by the Royals in May 1988, he signed with the Mariners that June and resurrected his career with 21 homers and 61 RBIs in 350 at-bats for Seattle. When he was awarded a big contract in arbitration that winter, he was traded to the Yankees just before the start of the 1989 season and hit 17 homers with 59 RBI in 300 at-bats, mostly as their DH. He followed that performance up with 17 circuit blasts in just 266 at-bats the next year, but a sub-.200 batting average ensured that 1990 would be his last hurrah.