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Kansas City Royals All-Time Strikeout Leaders

Updated on July 23, 2009

Kevin Appier

Mark Gubicza

Bret Saberhagen

The Kansas City Royals have been a major league franchise since 1969, and have had some glory years, especially in the ‘70’s when they were always battling the Yankees for American League supremacy. The Royals won the World Series in 1985 and the AL pennant in 1980, but the franchise has struggled the last couple of decades. The Royals have fielded great players like George Brett, and have had some stellar pitchers too. Here is a list of the Royals’ all-time top 10 pitchers in strikeouts:

Kevin Appier (1458)—Kevin Appier was one of the game’s dominant pitchers in the ‘90’s and he pitched for Kansas City from 1989 to 1999 and again in 2003 and 2004. Appier leads the Royals all-time with 1458 strikeouts, and he had a career high 207 of them in 1996. But Appier’s best season was probably 1993, when he went 18-8 with a 2.56 ERA and 186 K’s.

Mark Gubicza (1366)—Mark Gubicza was one of the great young pitchers that helped the Royals win it all in 1985, and he pitched for them most of his career, from 1984 to 1996. Gubicza ranks second in franchise history with 1366 strikeouts, and his best season was 1988. That year, Gubicza had career best numbers in wins (20-8), ERA (2.70) and strikeouts (183).

Dennis Leonard (1323)—Dennis Leonard pitched for the Royals his entire career, from 1974 to 1986, and he ranks third in the team’s history with 1323 strikeouts. Leonard had three 20-win seasons, and his best year was 1977 when he went 20-12 with a 3.04 earned run average and career high 244 strikeouts.

Bret Saberhagen (1093)—Bret Saberhagen had nasty stuff and won two Cy Young Awards while with the Royals, who he pitched for from 1984 to 1991. Saberhagen ranks fourth in Royals’ history with 1093 strikeouts, and his best season was one of his Cy Young campaigns, in 1989, when he had career bests in wins (23-6), ERA (2.16), and strikeouts (193).

Paul Splittorff (1057)—Paul Splittorff pitched in Kansas City his entire career, from 1970 to 1984, and ranks fifth in franchise history with 1057 strikeouts. Splittorff had a career high 140 K’s in 1972, but his best overall season was 1973—when he went 20-11 with a 3.98 ERA and 110 strikeouts.

Tom Gordon (999)—Tom Gordon became a great relief pitcher later in his career, but he began as a starter with the Royals, who he pitched for from 1988 to 1995. Gordon ranks sixth in Royals’ history with 999 strikeouts, and he had a career high 175 K’s in 1990. But Gordon’s best overall season there was 1989, when he went 17-9 with a 3.64 earned run average and 153 strikeouts.

Jeff Montgomery (720)—Jeff Montgomery pitched for the Royals his entire career, from 1987 to 1999, and was one of the game’s best closers over that time. Montgomery racked up 304 saves, and his 720 career strikeouts rank him seventh in team history. Montgomery had a career high 45 saves (led the AL) in 1993 and one of his best seasons was 1989, when he went 7-3 with a career low 1.37 ERA and career high 94 K’s to go along with 18 saves.

Steve Busby (659)—Steve Busby pitched for the Royals his entire career, from 1972 to 1980, and he ranks eighth in franchise history with 659 strikeouts. Busby had his best season in 1974, when he went 22-14 with a 3.39 ERA and career high 198 strikeouts.

Zack Greinke (644)—Zack Greinke should continue to climb this list, as he’s only 25 as I write this and has been in the big leagues, all with the Royals, since 2004. Greinke ranks ninth in team history with 644 strikeouts, and he has a full-season career high of 183 K’s in 2008. But 2009 so far is his best season, as he is (as of mid-2009) 10-5 (on a pretty bad team) with a 2.08 ERA and 136 strikeouts in 134 innings.

Larry Gura (633)—Larry Gura pitched for the Royals most of his career, from 1976 to 1985, and he ranks tenth in the Royals’ history with 633 strikeouts. Gura had his best season in 1980, when he went 18-10 with a 2.95 earned run average and career high 113 K’s.


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    • Artemus Gordon profile image

      Artemus Gordon 8 years ago

      I actually did not know who the leader was for the team despite growing up in a Royals fan household. I can even say that my nephew is named for the best third baseman that ever played for KC.

    • Sara Tonyn profile image

      Sara Tonyn 8 years ago from Ohio, the Buckeye State

      Cleveland Indians fan here. (Don't make me explain.) Just wanted to say I hope KC fans enjoyed the 15-strikeout game Zack Greinke threw against the Tribe yesterday (8/25). The Indians helped him set a new career high for single game strikeouts and pushed his career strikeout total to 705.

      Not bad, eh? They could have pushed the total higher but they accidentally hit the ball a few times. Whoops.

      I wonder if any KC fans were listening to our Cleveland Indians radio broadcasters calling the Greinke game? You'd have thought they worked for the Royals or were closely related to Zack, the way they were rooting for him. It was really pretty funny! And pretty annoying too.

      Anyway, no thanks necessary. The Tribe likes to do what it can to help their Mediocre Division rivals...