The Kansas City Royals have lost 12 games in a row, which (sad to say) is not all that unusual in Kansas City, though it is unusual everywhere else. Since the strike, there have been 20 teams that have lost 12 or more games in a row — about one per year.
Of the 20, five are Kansas City losing streaks. So, the Royals have that going for them.
Numerous people have emailed to ask if the Royals can turn this thing around this year. In some ways, yes, I think they can — depending on what you mean by “turn things around.”
I honestly don’t think they are anything close to this bad. I might not go with the SI-Fangraphs-WAR Power Rankings which kind of overshot the target and had them ranked seventh in baseball. But I do agree somewhat with their premise that this team has had a bad run of luck and a a drought of clutch hitting that doesn’t figure to last (five of their 12 losses are by one run). Also, the season is so young that, really, it’s absurd to make too much out of anything. Derek Jeter’s hitting .400. Albert Pujols is on pace to hit zero home runs. Let’s wait it out a bit.
That said, the record of teams that have lost 12 in a row is not perplexing. Good teams do not lose 12 games in a row. It’s that simple. The best team to lose 12 in a row since the strike was the 2004 Baltimore Orioles who ended up winning 78 games. Of course, 78 wins for this Royals team would probably set off a parade in the Plaza. I would say that if the Royals rebounded from this to win anything above 73 games, it would have to be viewed as a real positive.
Unfortunately, that’s kind of the best case scenario. Of the 19 previous teams to lose 12 in a row, eight lost a hundred, and four more lost 95. See, it’s hard to lose 12 in a row. From 1998-2001, not a single team managed to do it. The Royals came into this year with some real promise, and that promise is still there for long-term dreamers. But, bad luck or not, fluky or not, early or not, the Royals have lost 12 in a row, and that tells you that something very wrong is happening. The Royals would ignore those signs at their own peril.
Twelve game losing streaks since 1995 (with final record):
2012: Kansas City
2011: Seattle (67-95)
2010: Pittsburgh (57-105)
2009: Baltimore (64-98)
2008: Seattle (61-101), Kansas City (75-87), Washington (59-102)
2006: Kansas City (62-100), Pittsburgh (67-95)
2005: Kansas City (56-106)
2004: Milwaukee (67-94), Arizona (51-111), Baltimore (78-84), Tampa Bay (70-91)
2002: Tampa Bay (55-106), New York Mets (75-86), Baltimore (67-95)
1997: Chicago Cubs (68-94), Kansas City (67-94)
1996: Detroit (53-109)