Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Starting Pitcher – Dennis Leonard
From 1975 through 1981, there were few pitchers in the American League who were the equal of Dennis Leonard. A true workhorse who led the American League in games started three times and pitched over 250 innings four times, it was not a coincidence that his career truly began when the Kansas City Royals were beginning their ascension in the American League West.
Overall, Leonard posted a 144-106 record with a 3.70 ERA and a 1.262 WHiP. However, the seven years of Leonard’s prime made up the majority of his statistics, as Leonard had a 120-80 record with a 3.50 ERA and a 1.228 WHiP, striking out 1111 batters in 1776.2 innings of work. His overuse during those seven years likely contributed to his rapid decline and subsequent injury woes during the next four years.
Even through his career was cut short, and truly encapsulated during that run from 1975 through 1981, Leonard is still etched into the Royals record books. He is the team leader in complete games and shutouts, and ranks in the top five in wins, innings pitched, strikeouts and games started.
A sidearmer who had a tremendous ability to churn through innings, Dennis Leonard was an excellent starter for the Kansas City Royals in his prime. He is another pitcher that, had he stayed healthy, one has to wonder what his career would have looked like.
Next: An underappreciated pitcher