(Every once in a while I will come across a statistic regarding the Royals that I think is worth sharing with a larger audience. While I post it here on my blog, I also welcome all of my media friends to disseminate this in their respective mediums; I only ask for proper attribution. So Sam, Bob, Joe, Jeff, my friends at 610 and 810 and elsewhere: feel free to use the Stat Nugget of the Day as you see fit. This one’s a doozy.)
It’s the 1980s all over again. The Royals are wearing powder blues, they’ve got a winning record, and they’re winning with stifling pitching and just enough offense. The Royals are 7-5 despite the fact that they’ve scored just 38 runs in 12 games, just 3.17 per game. They’re 7-5 because their pitching staff has allowed just 32 runs.
In 12 games, the Royals and their opponents have combined for just 70 runs, or about what you used to see in a single series at Coors Field.
How unusual is this? According to my colleague at Baseball Prospectus, Jason Pare, no American League team has started its season with no more than 70 runs scored in its first 12 games in the last 17 years. Only three other teams have done so in the last 25 years.
The 1991 Cleveland Indians, with 65 runs (29 for
The 1988 Texas Rangers, with 68 runs (24 for
We’ll get to the third team in a moment.
These teams rank where they do only because their offenses were so terrible – they both gave up more runs than the Royals have. The Royals are doing this with their pitching – they have a ridiculous team ERA of 2.58.
In fact, according to another Baseball Prospectus colleague, Bil Burke, in the last 25 years only three
Two of those teams are the 2001 Red Sox, who allowed 27 runs, and the 1988 Indians, who allowed just 25 runs, and just 26 runs in their first 13 games, on their way to starting 11-2.
(In retrospect, it’s obvious why the Indians pitched so well – seven of those games came against the Orioles, who you may recall started the season 0-21.
But just one American League team in the last 25 years has both allowed fewer runs than the 2008 Royals and seen fewer combined runs in its first dozen contests. That team allowed just 27 runs and scored 35, but courtesy of three extra-innings losses was just 6-6 in that span. That team would still be at
That team was the 1985 Royals.