Cole Ragans is the best KC Royals pitcher ever (so far). Here is why.

The lefty is shattering standards set by Kansas City pitching pillars.
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Do it. Buy that Cole Ragans jersey. In 2024, the KC Royals starter will prove that his electric stint last season in Kansas City was not an outlier. Manager Matt Quatraro gave the flame-throwing lefty the start on Opening Day, and Ragans has not looked back. But we need to look back and prove that Ragans isn't just a great Royals pitcher in recent history; he may be the best of all time.

The KC Royals trading for Cole Ragans continues to look better.

Ragans' MLB career will last longer than his 16 starts for the Royals. But that is a large enough sample size to see peaks and valleys in his pitching performance. Some days have been better than others, but overall, Ragans is an elite pitcher, and we are very lucky to have him in a Royals uniform.

Do you believe Ragans could be one of the best Kansas City pitchers ever? Here are four metrics that prove he is on the right track.

Note: All statistics below are the best Royals' pitching marks through a player's first 16 starts with the franchise. Whether it be as a rookie or newcomer veteran, Ragans stands above the rest.

118 - Most strikeouts

In modern baseball, chasing strikeouts reigns supreme. A pitcher can always keep runs off the board, but inducing weak contact isn't nearly as sexy as a 100-mph fastball. Ragans departs from past Royals pitchers, dazzling with his pitching arsenal and several overpowering pitches. This leads to him racking up 188 strikeouts in his first 16 starts, nearly 20 more than the next Royals pitcher on the list.

After joining the Royals, Ragans was a strikeout king from the start. His 53 strikeouts in August 2023 not only earned him AL Pitcher of the Month honors, but they were the second-most strikeouts in a month for any Royals pitcher. Dennis Leonard's 55 punchouts in June 1977 are the franchise record, but that is a pretty good pitcher to be second to.

Ragans is maintaining his strikeout pace to start this season, proving that his 12 starts last year were not a fluke. He has 29 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings, good for an 11.19 K/9. That is the fourth-best mark for AL starters so far in 2024. Ragans has the third-best odds to win this year's AL Cy Young so that strikeout rate has a strong correlation to his chances.