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A history of the Royals in April

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April power brings May flowers.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals have closed out the month of April at 12-11, which, despite their recent struggles, is still the seventh-best record in the American League. The Royals have historically struggled in the month of April, going just 464-537 in franchise history, a .463 winning percentage. They have had a winning record by the end of April just 18 times in their 48 seasons.

The best April in Royals history was a 14-5 start by the 1978 club that won win the Western Division. After an Opening Day loss to Cleveland, they reeled off eight straight victories. Their fast start would be short-lived however, as they sunk to .500 by May, and it took a hot September to win the division. The most wins in April belongs to the magical 2003 squad that won their first nine games and ended April 17-7 and in first place by 4.5 games. Last year's championship Royals squad went 15-7, far better than the start of the other Royals championship squad in 1985, that started a pedestrian 11-8.

The worst April in franchise history was actually not one of the terrible 100-loss teams, it was Hal McRae's team in 1992 that dropped 15 of their first 16 games to start the year and ended a pitiful April at 3-17. That team would lose 90 games, the most the franchise had lost in 22 years.

The 2006 Royals were pretty close in their awfulness, going 5-17 in April with a 5.95 team ERA. They dropped 11 in a row that month which would set the table for a 13-game losing streak in May that would cost General Manager Allard Baird his job. Not all of the terrible Royals squads got off to bad starts, however. The 2009 Royals lost 97 games, but went 12-10 in April, en route to an 18-11 start. They would lose 31 of their next 43 games, dooming their seasons.

The 2000 Royals had an amazing stretch where they won four consecutive games in April with walk-off hits, three times by home runs. However that would not be enough to give them a winning record that month, as they would lose eight in a row right after that (including, ironically, a walk-off loss), and finish the month at 12-13.

The worst offensive April for the Royals came in 1981, when the team averaged just two runs per game for 13 games. The 1976 team would go on to win the division, but in April the offense was impotent, hitting just three home runs in 12 games, while hitting .232/.304/.318 as a team. The next year, the club put up the best offensive April in team history, averaging six runs per game. Three times the Royals have finished April hitting .300 as a team - 1979, 1983, and 2015.

The most home runs in the month of April belongs to Jermaine Dye, who hit 11 in 2000. He would threaten Steve Balboni's franchise home run record of 36, but end up short with 33. It should be no surprise that George Brett had the best batting average in April, when he hit .460 in 1983. He looked headed towards another batting title, but he finished eighth in average at .310, although he did lead the league in slugging and OPS.

However George was historically a slow starter - he hit just .259 in April of 1980, when he ended up flirting with .400. The Hall of Famer hit just .264 in his career in April, by far his worst month. The best April hitter in Royals history was Hal Morris, who hit .427/.459/.602 in his only season in Royals blue in 1998. For a hitter with multiple seasons in Kansas City, Jermaine Dye was the best, hitting .294/.357/.594 in April. Other fast starters include Darrell Porter, Jeff King, Bo Jackson, and Ken Harvey. The worst was Terry Shumpert, who limped out to a .155/.186/.206 April start in his career.

Zack Greinke had the best April by a Royals pitcher, when he finished the month 5-0 with a 0.50 ERA in his Cy Young season of 2009. He would continue a scoreless streak of 38 innings, dating back to 2008, the longest streak in franchise history. Greinke was typically a fast starter, putting up a 2.10 ERA in April, best in franchise history just ahead of James Shields and Edinson Volquez.

Bret Saberhagen also began 1987 strong with a 4-0 record and a 1.37 ERA, part of his curious odd-year/even-year performance split. Paul Splittorff once allowed just one earned run in April over 22 innings for a minuscule 0.41 ERA, but he actually managed to lose a game that month. Runelvys Hernandez surprised everyone by pitching lights out in April of 2003, winning four games with a 1.36 ERA over his first six starts.

The worst month by a Royals pitcher was the disastrous Joe Mays. Signed to a $1 million contract, Mays gave up 27 runs in 20 1/3 innings and was released in early May. Wally Bunker lost all five of his April starts in 1970, with an 8.88 ERA, insanely high for what was a dead-ball era. Even good pitchers like Kevin Appier and Dennis Leonard struggled at times, Appier posting a 7.86 ERA in 1994, and Leonard with a 6.99 April ERA in 1982. The worst starter in his Royals career was Chris Haney, who put up a 7.46 ERA in 16 April starts with the Royals.