Kansas City Royals



Image result for Bret Saberhagen (1984-91)
The stringy right-hander accrued more success and fame than any other Royal pitcher, all in spite of a bizarre trait of being at the top of his game in odd-numbered years—slumping off in the even-numbered seasons in between. In his four odd-numbered campaigns at Kansas City, Saberhagen was 74-30 with a 2.85 earned run average; in his four even-numbered years, he was 36-48 with a 3.70 mark.
After a rookie 10-11 showing as a part-time starter in 1984, Saberhagen put on a tremendous sophomore effort in 1985 at age 21, winning his first of two American League Cy Young Awards with a 20-6 record and 2.87 ERA; and those votes were cast before the postseason, in which he shined as the World Series MVP—allowing a run on 11 hits and a walk in two complete game victories. It was a storybook ending for Saberhagen, who helped finish off St. Louis with a five-hit shutout in Game Seven—a day after his wife gave birth to their first child. The combination of feel-good moments turned Saberhagen into America’s darling amid the afterglow of the Royals’ world title, capping his publicity tour with an appearance on the “Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson.
Saberhagen hiccupped in 1986—he suffered from numerous injuries and admitted he was unprepared for spring training after a winter of celebration—but returned to ace form in 1987, winning 18 and posting a 3.36 ERA to become the youngest Comeback Player of the Year recipient at age 23. He dipped again in 1988 with a 14-16 record, but in 1989 came roaring back once more, this time with a vengeance—taking home his second Cy and leading the majors with 23 wins (against just six losses), a 2.16 ERA, 262.1 innings pitched and 12 complete games.
Following the pattern, Saberhagen crashed in 1990, limited to five wins as elbow surgery cut his season short; he then cultivated yet another comeback, albeit a mild one, in 1991 with a 13-8 mark—and enjoyed a career highlight by throwing his only career no-hitter in August, in what would be his third-to-last start at Kansas City in a Royals uniform. Saberhagen was dealt that winter to the Mets in a five-player deal, and the odd-even routine soon ended for him—to be replaced by mostly off years as injuries increasingly took their toll on him.

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