Since their formation in 1969, the KC Royals have had many quality starting pitchers don the powder blue uniforms. We highlight the top ten to do so.
When looking at statistics for players who may have played a half-century apart it is difficult to compare. Back in the 1970s and into the ’80s, the only time you would get a starter off the mound is with a gurney. The KC Royals were no exception as they had hurlers throwing complete games until their arms fell off.
Another factor to consider is how Royals/Kauffman Stadium has changed over the years. It has always played as a big ballpark that makes it harder to hit home runs but for the first two decades, it was also played on AstroTurf. That hard surface popular in many ballparks for years could turn a hard-hit grounder into a triple as it rolled swiftly to the wall. Now with the grass field, what was extra-base hits are now singles.
How good the team was around them should not ultimately be a deciding factor but it is easier to pick a guy who had more wins because he was around in the heyday than other pitchers who suffered through really bad teams. Ultimately cream rises to the top but it is hard to quell the bias of a hurler who had more wins, so using advanced numbers will help even the comparisons.
Choosing and ranking the best pitchers in franchise history is subject to many traditional stats as well as mixing in the popular Sabermetrics. The Royals have produced Cy Young Award winners, league leaders in multiple categories such as wins, games started, shutouts, ERA, ERA+, FIP, HR/9 and more.
The criteria that went into forming the list is that they had to make at least 75 starts (equivalent roughly to three full seasons) as a Royal and are only judged on their performance with Kansas City. Some hurlers who had great success with other organizations but did not put in enough time or whose performance was not as sparkling with the KC Royals will not make the list as such.