Flashback Friday: KC Royals starting pitcher Mark Gubicza
The KC Royals have had plenty of great pitchers throughout their team history. Mark Gubicza cemented his place in the record books as a Royals great.
The KC Royals have a long history of great players who have worn the blue uniforms. Some of them spent many years with the team, and some just a short time. The impact that many of these players have had, though, is lasting.
In the ’80s, the Royals had numerous players who could be put down as greats, both pitchers and position players. One of these pitchers, who emerged to put himself in the Royals history books, is Mark Gubicza.
Gubicza started his journey when he was drafted by the Royals in 1981 out of the William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He spent a few years proving his stuff in the minors and managed 28 games in AA in 1983. In 1984, the Royals called him up to the show and he took off.
For his first couple of seasons, he struggled to get his footing in the big leagues, though still managed to finish 7th in Rookie of the Year voting in 1984. He continued to work and focus on his control, though, and eventually found his place.
After a good year in 1986 in which he managed 180.2 innings with an ERA of 3.64, Gubicza started on a 3-year span of 240 plus innings each. Though he wasn’t a high strikeout pitcher, Gubicza used his ability to keep the ball on the ground to his advantage and from 1987 to 1989 he won 13, 20, and 15 games respectively.
One of Gubicza’s best seasons came during this span in 1988. He managed 269.2 innings over 35 starts, held an ERA of 2.70, with 183 strikeouts and only allowed 11 home runs for a home runs per 9 of 0.4 (which he managed in 2 other seasons as well, ’86 and ’89). He received his first All-Star nod this year and finished third in Cy Young voting.
He received his second All-Star nod just a year later in 1989, after putting together another great season of 255.0 innings over 36 starts with an ERA of 3.04.
Unfortunately, after the 1989 season, Gubicza began struggling with injuries that caused him to miss the last half of the 1990 season. He was able to find some innings again in 1991, but the 133.0 innings over 26 starts were far short of his past seasons.
Gubicza did manage to find his stride again but was never as productive as he was before his struggles with injury. In 1995, He managed 33 games and 213.1 innings with an ERA of 3.75. This was the last year he was able to put up those numbers. He managed 119.1 innings in 1996 with an ERA of 5.13 but soon found his time with the Royals come to a close.
In October of 1996, the Royals traded Gubicza to the Anaheim Angels. He only started two games in the 1997 season before he injuries took their toll again and kept him out for the season. In 1998, he initially signed a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but quickly retired.
Gubicza spent a good amount of time with the Royals and was able to establish himself and take his place in team history. He remains a career top 10 leader in WAR for pitchers (3rd), Wins (3rd), games played (6th), innings pitched (2nd), strikeouts (2nd), starts (2nd), complete games (7th), and shutouts (3rd). A very long and impressive resume in team history.
In 2006, Gubicza’s place was fully cemented into Royals history when he was inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame.
Like all of our Flashback Friday players, Gubicza is a perfect example of the great players the Royals have had throughout their past. While Gubicza may not have had as many awards as some, he clearly deserves his place in Royals history and recognition for his accomplishments on the team.
Keep checking back for more Flashback Fridays as we look back to see some of the great Royals in team history.