When Hal McRae got a little upset with reporters on 4/26/93, the Kansas City Royals were not off to a quick start for that season. That version of the Royals had lost their first five games of the 1993 season, and their record of 9-14 going into May had to be disappointing for the faithful fans. At the time, only one other group to wear the uniform (seven, set by McRae's 1992 club) had lost at least their first five games, and only four other years in Kansas City (fourteen under .500 in 1992, seven under in 1981, six in 1990, and five in 1970) had featured five or more games under .500 going into May. Hal got the troops in order and finished a respectable 84-78 that season. Unfortunately for the fans of the Royals, being only five under .500 going into May no longer qualifies as one of the top ten worst starts in franchise history.
Losing the first game of the season is a Kansas City tradition. Covering 46 years, the Kansas City Royals have lost their season opener 67% of the time, with a record of 15-31. Ten times in franchise history has the team managed to win 86 or more games for the season, but those "better" teams lost the season opener 80% of the time. Only in 1977 and in 1985 did a Royals team win a season opener and finish with at least 86 victories. One of those 86+ win teams even lost their first two games. Some might remember last season's version of the Kansas City Royals.
Only once in team history has a Kansas City club destined for 86 or more wins not been at least two games over .500 going into the month of May. The 1976 Royals started 5-7, but still managed to win the division. A quick start does not guarantee success for the year, however, since the 2003 team failed to make the post-season despite a club-best record of 17-7 through the month of April.
Losing the first game of the season is not reason to despair. If anything, it demonstrates that the team is on track, or is at least a normal version of the Kansas City Royals. Worry instead if the team loses four or more to start the season, since that has only happened three times in club history (1992-7, 1993-5, 2001-4).
(1) Which Royals position player who started yesterday has a career March/April wRC+ most above his overall career wRC+? You win a prize if you guessed Mike Moustakas (his 97 M/A wRC+ is 117% of his overall 83 wRC+). Honorable mention is Alcides Escobar at 116%.
(2) Which Royals position player who started yesterday has a career March/April wRC+ most below his overall career wRC+? You win a prize if you guessed Eric Hosmer (his 79 M/A wRC+ is 76% of his overall 104 wRC+). Honorable mention is Salvador Perez at 86%, so his effort yesterday is cause for hope.
(3) Attendance gained about 455,000 more fans in 2003 than in 2002. The club-best 17-7 going into May had to help.
(4) Attendance dropped about 294,000 less fans in 1992 than in 1991. The club-worst 3-17 going into May had to hurt, along with losing the first seven games of the season. It is a wonder that Hal McRae did not throw things around a year earlier than he did.
(5) The Ned Yost 14-10 mark going into May last season was the 5th best start based upon games over .500 in Royals history. Kansas City started better in 2003, 1978, 1989, and 1973.
(6) The Ned Yost 6-15 mark going into May in 2012 was tied for the 5th worst start based upon games under .500 in Royals history. Kansas City started worse in 1992, 2005 and 2006 (tied for 2nd worst), 2007, and 1996 (which tied 2012 for 5th worst).
And no, you don't get any prizes for good guesses, so don't pester me with stories about how you quit the day job in anticipation of the prize.