How impressive were Kansas City Royals in April? The numbers just might surprise you

The Kansas City Royals have entered uncharted waters this season. The Royals are 18-13 and making history in the process.

And very few people saw it coming.

On Tuesday, the Royals secured their 18th win against the Toronto Blue Jays. Royals ace Cole Ragans was dominant with nine strikeouts in 6 ⅔ innings. Meanwhile, the Royals set a franchise record for most wins prior to May 1.

“You see what (the Royals front office) did in the offseason,” Ragans said, “the guys that they brought in and what they contributed to this team and how we are playing. I think it’s a great group of guys. I think we all have the same end goal in mind and that is to win.”

So how impressive have the Royals been this season? The last 21 years are a stark contrast to the 2024 campaign.

Since 2003, the Royals have eclipsed 10 or more wins through April 10 different times. The club also had four consecutive years (2013-2016) where it got off to a fast start in the American League Central.

The Royals went to two World Series in that four-year span. The franchise won the 2015 World Series by defeating the New York Mets.

However, KC has also gotten off to slow starts. In 2005, the Royals had a paltry 6-18 record by May 1 and were 11 games out of the divisional race. That season, the Royals finished with a franchise-worst 106 losses.

Last season, the Royals turned in another campaign with 106 losses. They were 7-22, through April, under Matt Quatraro in his first year as manager. The Royals didn’t register his first win until April 3, 2023, which was also against the Blue Jays.

The Royals have made an 11-game improvement in 2024.

“We said it from the beginning, this is a group of guys in here that is a really unique and special group,” Royals outfielder Kyle Isbel said. “We’ve got a lot of new faces, but it felt like we have been playing with each other for four or five years.

“It’s the energy, the fight, just winning in so many different ways. So many people contributing every single day, it’s just fun to watch.”

A big reason for the successful start is the pitching staff. Prior to Wednesday’s action, KC owned a 3.21 team ERA and 13 quality starts this season.

The Royals rank fifth in the majors in ERA behind the Boston Red Sox, Seattle Mariners, New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers.

“Pitching is what wins,” Quatraro said. “We’ve had some really good starts, especially early. … The bullpen has been consistently good. And everyone has contributed.”

The offense has also been good. KC had hit 32 home runs and drove in 134 runs as a team prior to Wednesday’s game.

The Royals are the second team to win 18 games in March/April following a 100-loss season, per the Elias Sports Bureau. They joined the 2023 Pittsburgh Pirates as the only teams to accomplish the feat in MLB history.

Meanwhile, the Royals’ 18-13 record through 31 games has only been topped five times in franchise history. It happened previously in 1973 (20-11), 1976 (21-10), 1989 (19-12), 2003 (20-11) and 2015 (20-11).

“Relentless,” Quatraro said of the 2024 start. “These guys compete every day, every inning and every pitch. They put their best foot forward as often as they can.”