KC Royals: Ten Most Dominant Starts In Royals Playoff History

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Oct 28, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Johnny Cueto throws a pitch against the New York Mets in the 9th inning in game two of the 2015 World Series at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

The KC Royals have now compiled an extensive post-season history in their 46 years in existence, with seven division titles, four American League Pennants, and two World Series victories. What are the best-pitched games from starters in 40 years of Kansas City Royals playoff baseball?

Just where do Bret Saberhagen‘s two gems in the 1985 World Series rank against Johnny Cueto‘s two-hitter last October? What about the lost games from the bitter match-ups in the late 70’s against the New York Yankees?

Given that the expectations for starting pitchers has changed since strong bullpens have transformed pitching staffs over the last 40 years, such a comparison is hard to make. Add in changes in the league scoring environment, strikeout rates, and the varied situations that make a particular performance more or less meaningful, and I decided to use an objective measure of starting pitcher dominance: Bill James’ game score metric.

Bill James created the game score to measure pitcher strength in any one game. It just doesn’t measure results, it measures dominance in terms of limiting hits, walks, and recording strikeouts. For example, the game score metric will rate a three-hit, 10-strikeout, 1-run performance by a pitcher over a 10-hit, 3-strikeout game in which the starter manages to not give up a run.

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The advantage of the game score is that it’s a widely accepted metric and is available on Baseball-reference.com’s library of playoff box scores.

While some may object to my failure to consider context, each playoff game is by definition “big” since teams face elimination if they fail to take care of business. Was Eric Hosmer‘s mad dash for home in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series any less “big” because the KC Royals would have still had two more remaining games to win the title if it had failed?

Yeah. That’s why I think all playoff games are big. Any one of them could turn their respective series.

Next: 2014 World Series Game 6