Bret Saberhagen

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Bret William Saberhagen

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Biographical Information[edit]

Bret Saberhagen was a two-time American League Cy Young Award winner, three-time All-Star, Gold Glove winner, twice the AL Comeback Player of the Year, and variously led the league in wins, winning percentage, ERA, innings pitched, and complete games. The MVP of the 1985 World Series for the winning Kansas City Royals, he retired with a 167-117 record and .588 win percentage. He was one of the top pitchers of his era, although his career fell shy of the Hall of Fame.

Saberhagen was selected as a 19th round pick in the 1982 amateur draft by the Royals and signed scout Al Kubski.

For the first ten seasons of his career, he had a unique pattern of pitching better in odd numbered years than in even numbered years. As a rookie for the Royals in 1984, he went 10-11. In 1985, he went 20-6 and won the Cy Young Award as the Royals won the World Series. In 1986, his record fell to 7-12 and his ERA swelled to 4.15, but in 1987, he went 18-10 with an ERA almost one run lower than the previous year. The next season, he was again sub-.500, but in 1989, he had his best season, going 23-6 with a 2.16 ERA and winning another Cy Young Award. He struggled to a 5-9 record in 1990 but rebounded to 13-8 in 1991.

Prior to the 1992 season, Saberhagen was traded to the New York Mets but only appeared in 17 games, going 3-5. He bounced back to .500 in 1993. Finally, in 1994, he broke the pattern, going 14-4 for the Mets with a 2.74 ERA, striking out 143 batters while walking only 13, an incredible 11.00 K/W ratio which broke Jim Whitney's record. That mark stood as the major league record for two decades, until broken by Phil Hughes who achieved a ratio of 11.63 in 2014, but is still the National League record. The next year, 1995, he was traded to the Colorado Rockies, appearing in only nine games. He did not appear in a game in 1996 and after signing with the Boston Red Sox, only pitched in six games in 1997. However, he made a nice comeback in 1998, winning 15 games for the Sox. The next season, 1999, he won 10 more. He again sat out in 2000 and then appeared in just a handful of games for the Red Sox in 2001. Saberhagen ended his career with a 3.34 ERA.

Saberhagen was 2-0 in the postseason for the Royals, but 0-4 for all other teams.

He joined West Coast Sports Management, a Pasadena, CA based baseball representation agency in December 2008, with his primary focus, along with Scott Budner, being pitching evaluation and recruiting for the agency, which has former Los Angeles Dodgers GM Dan Evans as its President and CEO.

Notable Achievements[edit]

AL Cy Young Award
1984 1985 1986
Willie Hernandez Bret Saberhagen Roger Clemens
1988 1989 1990
Frank Viola Bret Saberhagen Bob Welch

Further Reading[edit]

  • Rick Sorci: "Baseball Profile: Pitcher Bret Saberhagen", Baseball Digest, December 1991, p. 51. [1]
  • Gib Twyman: "Bret & Brett: The Royals' Best Bets", in Zander Hollander, ed.: The Complete Handbook of Baseball: 1986 Season, Signet Books, New American Library, New York, NY, 1986, pp. 36-43. ISBN 0-451-14177-6

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