Traded by California Angels on July 5, 1976
In 1976, California Angels pitcher Andy Hassler's journey took a turn that seemed to breathe new life into his career. The change of scenery, from the struggling Angels to the first-place Royals in July, proved to be a pivotal moment for the left-handed starting pitcher.
Under Whitey Herzog, Hassler found himself in a supportive environment, and it didn't take long for him to regain his form after struggling for two seasons in California. Following the trade, Hassler boasted a commendable 2.89 ERA in 19 games, 14 of which were starts and four complete games. Hassler was an immediate hit for the playoff-bound Royals, despite a lack of run support in his starts.
The Royals faced off against the New York Yankees in the ALCS. Hassler's start in game three saw him staked to an early lead, but a two-run Lou Pinella homer and a challenging sixth inning saw Hassler give up four earned runs. He pitched 2 1/3 innings in game five, but couldn't stave off the Yankees winning another World Series.
Hassler was a workhorse pitcher in 1977 when he made 27 starts for the Royals. His 4.20 ERA was solid across the whole season, despite not living up to his hot 1976 performance. Hassler walked plenty of batters but limited home runs en route to a 3.79 FIP. He started another ALCS game in 1977 but surrendered three runs in 5 2/3 innings.
The following season, 1978, saw Hassler facing adversity during spring training as a bizarre off-field incident left him with injuries that delayed his start until late May. Despite these setbacks, he continued to demonstrate his pitching prowess. However, the twist in the tale came after the All-Star break when the Boston Red Sox purchased him in July.
All in all, Hassler was a slightly above-average starter in Kansas City across 59 games. He had a 102 ERA+, two points above the 100 league average. His 15-16 record aptly supports that, but modern Royals fans would gladly take his 3.81 ERA across 50 starts.