Skip to content

How rare is the Royals’ season-opening homerless streak?

Apr 9, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT

Detroit Tigers v Kansas City Royals Getty Images

OK, you know I love stuff like this — the Kansas City Royals (as of 1:41 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday) have not hit a home run all season. That’s seven games, that’s pretty rare stuff. The last team to start a season without a home run in its first seven games was the 1990 New York Yankees — that was the worst Yankees teams of the last 100 years. The Yankees streak was finally broken when Mel Hall — yeah, Mel Hall — homered off a 500-year-old Nolan Ryan in the second inning of Game 8.

Well, if the Royals can stretch their streak to eight games against Tampa Bay today, they will enter some very cherished company — only seven teams since 1950 have started the season with eight straight homerless games.

But what I found interesting and kind of shocking is that, on the whole, the seven teams weren’t too bad. In fact, a couple of them were REALLY good teams.

Most games without a homer to start a season (since 1950):

11 games: 1972 Red Sox. Man was that a crazy team and a crazy season — the Red Sox did not hit a home run the first 11 games but actually ended up finishing SECOND in the American League in home runs. They were 85-70 and lost the division title by a half-game in one of the weirdest races ever. There was a short strike in 1972 and because of scheduling quirks the Tigers played one more game than Boston. The Tigers finished 86-70, and baseball decided, OK, season over, no makeup game necessary for Boston.

Could you even IMAGINE the outrage today if something that absurd happened? Here we are in a time where they will take months to review some meaningles play in the third innings. And we’re not that far away from a time where they decided it was just better to give the Tigers the title rather than schedule a make-up game.

The Red Sox first homer of the year was Rico Petrocelli off our pal jim Kaat in a 5-2 loss.

10 games: 1966 Kansas City Athletics. The penultimate year of the Athletics stay in Kansas City — I love that word penultimate and don’t care if I used it right — that A’s team was just semi-stinky and already had good young players like Catfish Hunter and Bert Campaneris and Blue Moon Odom, who would be part of the A’s 1970s dynasty.

Pinch-hitter Larry Stahl hit the home run that broke the streak — he hit it in the ninth off former Athletics pitcher Orlando Pena in a 13-5 loss.

9 games: 1985 Houston Astros. Pretty good team that year (83-79) and a REALY good team in 1986.

An old hero of mine, Alan Ashby, broke the streak with a solo homer off Rick Mahler in a loss. That team really did not have much power — Glenn Davis led the team with 20 homers.

9 games: 1982 San Diego Padres. Another pretty good team — they finished 81-81. Ruppert Jones — who was hitting cleaning for San Diego — broke the streak with a home run off Bob Welch. That was in the middle of a San Diego 11-game winning streak, so they didn’t need homers.

9 games: 1963 Los Angeles Dodgers. How about that … a 99-win World Series team that did not hit a homer in its first nine games.

Of course that Dodgers team was a whole lot of pitching and a whole lot of speed — they were pretty famous for their lack of offensive firepower. Frank Howard, who was more or less the only guy on that team capable of hitting a home run, broke the streak with a two-run homer off Houston’s Turk Farrell. Those were the only two runs of the game — Sandy Koufax threw a two-hitter and struck out 14. It was like that a lot in 1963, especially in Los Angeles.

8 games: 1972 St. Louis Cardinals. Here, finally, we have a team that fits what you would expect of a team that could not hit a home runs. Those Cardinals were pretty bad and they had NO power. Ted Simmons led the team with 16 homers, Joe Torre was the only other Cardinal to reach double digits (he hit 11). They hit 70 home runs as a team.

Simmons broke the streak with a solo shot off Phil Niekro in Game 9. The Cardinals still got crushed 9-3.

8 games: 1967 Los Angeles Dodgers. Well this was the season after Sandy Koufax retired, and the Dodgers — even with future Hall of Famers Don Drysdale and Don Sutton in the rotation — were pretty dreadful. Obviously pitchers dominated the game then. The Dodgers hit .236 as a team and scored 519 runs. Those weren’t even league-worst totals.

Ron Fairly broke the streak with a three-run homer off St. Louis reliever Joe Hoerner. Fairly finished the season with 10 home runs, behind Sweet Lou Johnson (11) and fourth-outfielder Al “The Bull” Ferrara (16).

So what’s there to learn here? Nothing really. Of the seven teams to start with eight homerless games, one won the World Series, one was a fluke away from a shot at a division title, two teams were right around break-even and three were fairly bad but not historically bad. Some of these teams carried their home run drought throughout the season. Some did not.

In other words, it likely means absolutely nothing that the Royals have not hit a home run in their first few games. But it’s fun to keep track of anyway.

Latest Posts
  1. Chris Tillman named Opening Day starter by Orioles

    Mar 31, 2015, 1:20 PM EDT

    tillman getty Getty Images

    Tillman also started on Opening Day for the Orioles last season.

  2. Baseball is working to get Spanish-speaking interpreters for every team

    Mar 31, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 12.08.20 PM

    A long-overdue measure will, apparently, soon be in place.

  3. Rangers release veteran right-hander Jamey Wright

    Mar 31, 2015, 12:46 PM EDT

    Jamey Wright AP AP

    Wright had a rough spring, allowing 11 runs in eight appearances.

  4. White Sox to place reliever Jake Petricka on the disabled list

    Mar 31, 2015, 12:16 PM EDT

    Jake Petricka White Sox AP

    Petricka saved 14 games with a 2.96 ERA and 55/33 K/BB ratio in 73 innings last season.

  5. It’s only spring training, but Trevor Bauer is finally throwing strikes

    Mar 31, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT

    Trevor Bauer AP

    “I’m encouraged by it, and we’ll see how it carries over into the season.”

  6. Every team and fan base thinks it’s “blue collar”

    Mar 31, 2015, 11:33 AM EDT

    Blue collar

    But most people can afford tickets or are paid to play the games are decidedly not blue collar.

  7. HBT Extra: Previewing the American League West

    Mar 31, 2015, 11:02 AM EDT

    Mike Trout Mike Trout

    Jenna and I talk about the Mariners’ dynamite pitching staff, Mike Trout’s need of some support and when the Astros will finally break into the picture.

  8. Domonic Brown will start the season on the disabled list

    Mar 31, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    Domonic Brown Domonic Brown

    The Phillies outfield is gonna be a train wreck.

  9. MLB’s delayed Josh Hamilton ruling could keep the Angels from extending Huston Street

    Mar 31, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    Huston Street Angels AP

    Street is without an agent, representing himself, and has said he won’t negotiate after Opening Day.

  10. The doomsday clock for the Rays leaving Tampa Bay moves up a couple of minutes

    Mar 31, 2015, 9:50 AM EDT

    Watchmen Clock

    There is still a lot of time before anything can happen, but it’s looking less and less likely that the Rays will stay in Tampa Bay.

  11. Fred Wilpon did not talk to the media yesterday and the media is quite perturbed at this

    Mar 31, 2015, 9:25 AM EDT

    Fred Wilpon AP

    Really, are there any Mets fans who actually care what Wilpon has to say at this point?

  12. The Collective Bargaining Agreement doesn’t even enter into the Kris Bryant situation, right?

    Mar 31, 2015, 7:49 AM EDT

    Kris Bryant

    Some people have argued that maybe a Kris Bryant/MLBPA lawsuit is not as silly as some of us think. I’m not sure I’m buying that.

  13. Dodgers agree to minor league deal with Freddy Garcia

    Mar 30, 2015, 11:34 PM EDT

    Freddy Garcia AP AP

    Garcia, 38, last pitched in the majors in 2013 as a member of the Orioles and Braves.

  14. Red Sox won’t rush prospect Blake Swihart to the majors despite Christian Vazquez injury

    Mar 30, 2015, 11:25 PM EDT

    Blake Swihart AP AP

    Ryan Hanigan and Sandy Leon figure to handle catching duties for the Red Sox in the early part of the season.

  15. Phil Coke wins spot on Cubs’ Opening Day roster

    Mar 30, 2015, 10:10 PM EDT

    phil coke getty Getty Images

    This day has mostly been about who will not be on the Cubs’ Opening Day roster, but it was announced this evening that reliever Phil Coke has earned a spot on the team.

  16. Cardinals officially name Carlos Martinez as fifth starter

    Mar 30, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT

    Carlos Martinez AP AP

    In a decision that was all but inevitable after news of Jaime Garcia’s renewed shoulder issues, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny confirmed today that right-hander Carlos Martinez has won the fifth spot in the starting rotation.

  17. Trevor Cahill, Chase Anderson win rotation spots with D-Backs; Daniel Hudson to bullpen

    Mar 30, 2015, 8:05 PM EDT

    diamondbacks logo alternate

    The Diamondbacks will go into the season with a starting rotation of Josh Collmenter, Jeremy Hellickson, Rubby De La Rosa, Trevor Cahill, and Chase Anderson.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. J. Fernandez (4707)
  2. C. Rodon (4270)
  3. Y. Tomas (4010)
  4. K. Bryant (3948)
  5. S. Doolittle (3919)
  1. A. Rendon (3710)
  2. A. Cobb (3681)
  3. T. Walker (3667)
  4. K. Jansen (3660)
  5. C. Davis (3643)