Kansas City Royals Countdown: Top 10 Individual Pitching Seasons

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KANSAS CITY, MO - JUNE 17: Zack Greinke
KANSAS CITY, MO - JUNE 17: Zack Greinke /
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No. 9) Dennis Leonard 1977

Between his partial 1974 season and final 1986 campaign, Dennis Leonard never had a losing season in his career with the Kansas City Royals. The 1977 season sits atop his personal list of top individual campaigns, as he led the league with 20 wins and finished fourth in Cy Young voting.

Leonard finished with a 3.04 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over a remarkable 292 2/3 innings. The second-round pick pitched in 38 games. He made 37 starts and closed out one game to earn a save. Of his 37 starts, he remarkably pitched 21 complete games, including five shutouts.

His September, plus another start on Oct. 2, could be the single best month in franchise history. Leonard made seven starts—six complete games and one eight-inning performance. He had two shutouts in the month and never gave up more than three runs in a single game. The incredible final month of the season boosted his record from 15-11 to 20-12.

Leonard closed the year with nine strikeouts, six hits and a walk in a shutout of the Angels—a team he owned during the season. He made three starts against the Angels and went the distance each time, allowing a total of four runs and striking out 28.

He went on to toss a complete game in a Game 3 victory over the Yankees. However, Leonard blew a chance to close out Game 5, allowing three runs in the ninth inning after entering with a 3-2 lead.

The postseason often proved to be Leonard’s downfall, as he went just 3-5 with a 4.32 ERA in the playoffs. During the regular season, though, Leonard often excelled. In his career, he finished 144-106 with a 3.70 ERA and a Royals record in complete games (103) and shutouts (23).

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