The current Kansas City Royals are in dire need of some pitching help. It’s too bad they can’t have some help from their 1980’s teammates.
The Kansas City Royals are in full offseason mode, making moves, cuts, small signings, the norm. With the offseason comes stat diving for both the Royals and other teams who may have available players, at least for me anyway. Through this stat diving, I often stumble across a ton of interesting information.
The other day, I happened across the stats of Bret Saberhagen and realized I’ve managed to never really look closely. I knew who Saberhagen was, I’m a Royals fan. But as a younger fan who never saw him play as a Royal, I didn’t know a lot about his stats.
This is when I decided taking a look back at some of these previous Royals could be fun and interesting. Hopefully, this will be the first of many flashbacks as we look back on the dominant players the Royals had, starting with the player who sparked the idea, Bret Saberhagen.
Saberhagen started his career with the Royals after they drafted him in the 1982 Amateur Draft out of high school. He spent 1983 mulling around in the minors but made enough of an impression to get the call up in 1984.
Once he made it to the show, Saberhagen appeared in 30 or more games a season with the Royals from 1984 to 1989, starting most of them. He continued with the Royals for 1990 and 1991, managing 20 and 28 games respectively.
In December of 1991, Kansas City traded Saberhagen to the New York Mets. He saw time with the Mets, continuing to produce well, until 1995 when he was traded to the Colorado Rockies. Saberhagen spent 1996 outside of baseball due to injuries but was granted free agency in October of 1996 when he signed with the Boston Red Sox.
Saberhagen spent the remainder of his career in Boston, seeing time in major league games from 1997 to 1999, and again for a portion of the 2001 season.
Saberhagen had a long career spanning 18 years, and in that time, he showed his dominance on the mound and proved that he was a great pitcher. Over his career, Saberhagen received MVP votes in 3 separate years, won a Gold Glove, was a 3-time all-star, finished third in Cy Young voting once, and won the Cy Young award on 2 occasions.
A majority of these awards and recognitions were gained during his time with the Royals, cementing his memory as one of the great Royals pitchers of the past and putting him into the Royals Hall of Fame.
Saberhagen finished his career with 167 wins to 117 losses, 399 games with 371 started, 2562.2 innings pitched, 1715 strikeouts, and an ERA of 3.34. To help further prove the dominance of Saberhagen, a closer look at his stats when he won the Cy Young shows just how good he was.
He won his first Cy Young award in 1985. Saberhagen finished with a record of 20-6 with 32 games started, 235.1 innings pitched with 158 strikeouts and only 38 walks, 10 complete games, FIP of 2.89, a WHIP of 1.058 and an ERA of 2.87.
To Improve on that, Saberhagen won another Cy Young in 1989. In this year, he finished 23-6 with 35 games started, 262.1 innings pitched with 193 strikeouts and only 43 walks, 12 complete games, FIP of 2.45, a WHIP of .961 and an ERA of 2.16.
Saberhagen was not just a great pitcher, he put on a clinic every time he was on the mound. There was no doubt that when he went out, the Royals were in a good position. After the 1989 season when he pitched 262.1 innings he never pitched over 200 again, but he continued to show his worth.
Saberhagen continued to regularly pitch well over 100 innings during the rest of his career, seeing only a few years where he didn’t hit the mark. While he also saw his ERA spike a few times, he continued to manage it under 4.00 for the majority of his career.
The current Royals pitchers are far from having the dominance Saberhagen had over batters, but with numbers like his, it’s hard for just anyone to keep up. Not to mention it was a different time in baseball, and it’s unlikely to see a pitcher complete 12 games in a season anymore.
Saberhagen was an outstanding pitcher and a great example of the type of player that has helped the Royals grow and keep baseball alive in Kansas City. Keep a lookout for Flashback Fridays as in the future, we will continue to look to the past at all the players who made us fans forever Royal.