The scouting on this kid must have been way off. After only one season in the minors though, the KC Royals brought him up to the big leagues and he took over from there.
Bret Saberhagen pitched in 38 games and started 18 of them in 1984 for the Royals. Half of those starts he completed. He threw way above expectations in the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers with eight solid frames and only two earned runs allowed. That was a sign of dominance to come.
Every Kansas City fan remembers the skinny kid who won a Cy Young at the age of 21 and led the pitching staff in the franchise’s first World Series-winning year. He was 20-6 with a 2.87 ERA, and led the American League in WHIP (1.058), BB/9 (1.5), and K/9 (4.16).
While the Toronto Blue Jays had his number in the ALCS, Saberhagen went into video game mode against the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. He completed both starts, only allowing one run in 18 innings, 11 hits, and one walk for a 0.667 WHIP. He was on the mound as the Royals celebrated the Game 7 clincher.
"The next year — Game 7 of the World Series — that was the most nervous I have ever been. If we win, we’re champions. If we don’t, we all go home and the Cardinals are champions. And if that happens, I feel like I let my teammates down, our fans down, the front office down. — Bret Saberhagen on being so young starting Game 7 of World Series mlb.com"
Saberhagen would go on to win a second Cy Young with Kansas City in 1989 and actually pitched even better. He was 23-6 with a 2.16 ERA, completed 12 games, and threw 262 1/3 innings, all which led the majors. He was also the best in the big leagues in ERA+ (180), WHIP (0.961) and K/BB (4.49).
In only eight seasons with the Royals, he won 110 games, struck out 1,093 batters, completed 64 games and tossed 14 shutouts. More importantly, he won over a city with his confidence, charisma, and ability to step up in important games.
An easy choice for induction into the Royals Hall of Fame occurred in 2005. He has the best WHIP of any other Kansas City pitcher and is in the top 5 for WAR, ERA, win-loss percentage, strikeouts, games started, complete games and shutouts. Although his career with the team was not as long as many others, Saberhagen will always be a Royal in fans’ hearts.