Turn the page on your calendar, the Royals can put May and that 11-game losing streak behind them. With a fresh new month, the Royals are undefeated in June, and with a good month they can put themselves firmly in contention for a playoff spot this summer.
Has June been a kind month to them in the past? Let’s take a look at how the Royals have done each month historically, from worst to best.
March/April (502-603, .454)
Best April: 1978 (14-5), 2003 (17-7)
Worst April: 1992 (3-17), 2006 (5-17)
If it seems like the Royals are traditionally slow starters, that’s because they are. The Royals have ended the first month with a losing record in 31 of 52 seasons April baseball was played. The worst was in 1992, when the Hal McRae-led bunch dropped 15 of their first 16 contests. It is no surprise the 2005, 2006, and 2018 clubs stumbled out of the gate, but the 2017 team still had their championship core, and buried themselves in a 7-16 hole that may have cost them a post-season spot.
On the flip side, the 2003 Royals won their first nine games in a row to begin the year, and a 17-7 start in April helped fuel a surprising run that kept them in contention through the summer. The 2015 Royals also got off to a solid 15-7 start to show the league that their pennant the previous season was no fluke.
May (664-757, .467)
Best May: 1976 (20-10), 1987 (18-9)
Worst May: 2006 (8-21), 2013 (8-20)
May has seemed like a pesky month for Royals in recent memory. The 2009 Royals were cruising along with an 18-11 record until an 11-17 May that ended with an eight-game losing streak that carried over into June. The 2013 Royals made a late charge and may have made the playoffs had they not been torpedoed by an 8-20 May. Even the 2014 Royals seemed doomed early in the year with a 12-17 May that saw them demote struggling third baseman Mike Moustakas. And a poor May (that followed a poor April) cost General Manager Allard Baird his job in 2006.
But some Royals clubs have overcome the May curse. The 1976 Royals won 16 of 19 at one point in May, to finish with a 20-10 record that month and a one-game lead in the West over Texas. The 2016 Royals looked like a team ready to repeat as champs when they went 17-11 in May, winning 12 of 15 to end the month.
July (651-722, .474)
Best July: 1978 (20-8), 1977 (18-8)
Worst July: 2004 (7-20), 2016 (7-19)
July is the month of the non-waiver trade deadline, and more years than not, the Royals play like sellers. A young 2012 team had hopes that a decent July could give them a taste of contention and entered the month just six games out of first, but a 7-19 month ended those dreams. Not even a Cy Young season from Zack Greinke could save the 2009 Royals from going 7-19 in July - Greinke went winless despite a 2.53 ERA in five starts that month. The 2016 Royals looked on their way to being back in the mix, but a 7-19 month but that in doubt.
But George Brett’s Royals teams thrived in July. In 1977, the Royals were hanging around .500 until a hot 18-8 July kickstarted them towards a club-record 102 wins. The 1978 club won ten in a row and went from being down a game to taking a four-game lead for first. And the 1980 club went 18-9 that month on their way to a pennant.
September/October (725-769, .485)
Best September: 1977 (26-6), 2008 (18-8)
Worst September: 1974 (8-22), 2002 (7-19)
Teams want to finish the season strong, and a few Royals teams have done just that. The 1977 Royals went on an absurd run in September, winning 26 of their final 32 games to coast to a division title. The 2013 Royals made a surprising run at the end of the year to creep back into the Wild Card hunt, going 17-10 in the final month of the season.
Most of the poor finishes were on bad teams - 2002, 2007, 2010. But the pennant-winning 1980 club also finished poorly, going 12-19 in September, but that is probably because they entered the month with a whopping 19.5 game lead in the division and were on cruise control.
June (673-696, .492)
Best June: 1972 (18-9), 1976 (19-10)
Worst June: 2018 (5-21), 1970 (7-19)
The 1972 Royals got off to a dreadful 13-24 start, but a hot 18-9 June steadied their season as they finished close to .500 that year. It was in June that the 2014 eventual pennant-winning Royals would first make their move, winning ten in a row at one point, and going 17-10 in the month.
The rebuilding Royals have been particularly dreadful in June. The 2018 (5-21) and 2019 (10-17) clubs fell apart that month, but in 2020 the team actually went undefeated in June! Well, it was just one game, but still.
August (739-735, .501)
Best August: 1980 (23-7), 1989 (21-8)
Worst August: 2005 (5-21), 2008 (7-20)
Some Royals clubs have absolutely folded in the August heat. The 2005 Royals went 5-21 with a 6.13 club ERA in the month of August. That’s what happens when you have Runelvys Hernandez and Jose Lima in your rotation.
But for the most part, Royals teams play well in August, the only month where they have an overall winning record. The 1980 club pretty much clinched the division in August with a 23-7 month. The 1989 Royals climbed to within a few games back of the mighty A’s and the Bash Brothers with a 21-8 month. The 2016 Royals followed a dreadful July with a red-hot 20-9 August that gave them hopes of climbing back in the Wild Card hunt. Even the 90-loss 2012 Royals managed to go 17-11 in August.
Why do the Royals play so well in August? Well they have a home-field advantage with the weather. Tell ‘em, Ichiro.