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. The Red Sox would like to talk long-term extension with Yoenis Cespedes

    Sep 30, 2014, 9:17 AM EDT

    Yoenis Cespedes AP

    But Cespedes is not yet sure if he wants to test the market next year.

  2. Jon Daniels says that Ron Washington going was probably for the best

    Sep 30, 2014, 8:54 AM EDT

    DANIELS

    Not the sort of thing you typically hear in these situations. Not that this situation has happened in this exact way very often.

  3. Playoff Reset: The American League Wild Card Game

    Sep 30, 2014, 8:05 AM EDT

    Athletics Royals Getty Images

    Looking ahead to the first action of the 2014 Postseason: The American League Wild Card Game.

  4. Francisco Rodriguez hopes to stay with Brewers

    Sep 29, 2014, 11:36 PM EDT

    Francisco Rodriguez Getty Getty Images

    Rodriguez had to settle for a one-year, $3.25 million contract before the beginning of spring training and began the season in a set-up role, but he ended up with a 3.04 ERA with 73/18 K/BB ratio over 68 innings while going 44-for-49 in save chances.

  5. Clay Buchholz to undergo knee surgery Tuesday

    Sep 29, 2014, 10:25 PM EDT

    374f480c3966bc23d14c1a816c436699 AP

    After being limited to 16 starts last season, Buchholz managed to make 28 starts this year, but he saw his ERA jump from 1.74 to 5.34 in the process.

  6. Rusney Castillo to report to Arizona Fall League later this week

    Sep 29, 2014, 9:20 PM EDT

    Rusney Castillo Getty Getty Images

    Castillo landed a seven-year, $72.5 million contract with Boston in August and batted .333 (12-for-36) with two home runs, one double, and three stolen bases during his first taste of the majors earlier this month.

  7. Nationals likely to use Tanner Roark in the bullpen for playoffs

    Sep 29, 2014, 8:40 PM EDT

    tanner roark getty Getty Images

    Roark has a 2.57 ERA in 252 innings as a big leaguer.

  8. Mariners designate Corey Hart for assignment, clearing spot for Jesus Montero on 40-man roster

    Sep 29, 2014, 8:14 PM EDT

    mariners logo

    The Mariners gave Hart a one-year, $6 million deal last winter in hopes that he would be able to get his career back on track after multiple knee surgeries cost him the entire 2013 season, but he batted just .203 with six home runs and a .590 OPS over 68 games this season.

  9. Yankees expect Alex Rodriguez to be their third baseman next season

    Sep 29, 2014, 7:49 PM EDT

    Alex Rodriguez Reuters Reuters

    Joe Girardi says “we have to see where he’s at.”

  10. Trevor Plouffe undergoes left forearm surgery

    Sep 29, 2014, 7:29 PM EDT

    Trevor Plouffe AP AP

    Plouffe is expected to be ready for spring training.

  11. Fired by the Twins, Ron Gardenhire wants to manage again

    Sep 29, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT

    Ron Gardenhire AP

    Gardenhire will be paid by the Twins in 2015 as part of a two-year contract signed exactly one year ago tomorrow.

  12. Josh Hamilton tests readiness for postseason with workout

    Sep 29, 2014, 6:21 PM EDT

    022d61eeac9b78b55bf1dbc881a16fd8 Getty Images

    Josh Hamilton has been limited to just one game since September 4 due to right shoulder, chest, and rib cage injuries, but he’s still hopes to be ready for the upcoming division series.

  13. Rangers want to re-sign Colby Lewis

    Sep 29, 2014, 5:47 PM EDT

    colby lewis reuters Reuters

    Lewis has been with the Rangers since 2010.

  14. MLB has its seventh-best attendance total in history

    Sep 29, 2014, 5:05 PM EDT

    old turnstile

    A good attendance season for MLB. Not the best, but still strong.

  15. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke’s job status is unclear

    Sep 29, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT

    Ron Roenicke Brewers AP

    Roenicke has a 335-313 (.517) record in four seasons as the Brewers’ manager.

  16. REPORT: The Astros to name A.J. Hinch their new manager today

    Sep 29, 2014, 4:36 PM EDT

    A.J. Hinch

    The former Diamondbacks manager gets a second chance.

  17. The incredible awfulness that was Allen Craig’s 2014 season

    Sep 29, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT

    Allen Craig Allen Craig

    Craig had a season unlike any other first baseman or corner outfielder in 70 years.

  18. Pirates to start Edinson Volquez in Wild Card playoff game

    Sep 29, 2014, 4:01 PM EDT

    Edinson Volquez AP

    Here’s how far Edinson Volquez has come in one year: Last season he posted a 5.71 ERA and allowed the most earned runs in the league.

Featured video

Can Nationals run the playoff table?
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. D. Jeter (3413)
  2. C. Kershaw (2423)
  3. R. Martin (2209)
  4. A. Rodriguez (1981)
  5. J. Altuve (1909)
  1. M. Trout (1749)
  2. J. Hamilton (1725)
  3. P. Hughes (1705)
  4. D. Ortiz (1700)
  5. T. d'Arnaud (1661)