Honoring Mark Gubicza

Another blast from the past... this post originally ran in January of 2006.-RR

On Friday the Royals announced that Mark Gubicza had entered/been elected/selected to the Royals' Hall of Fame. Gubes is the 8th pitcher in, joining Steve Busby, Paul Splittorff, Dennis Leonard, Larry Gura, Dan Quisenberry, Jeff Montgomery and Bret Saberhagen. As the Royals' presser pointed out, Gubicza is 3rd all-time in team wins, with 132, behind only Splittorff (166) and Leonard (144).

As the Royals/Alan Eskew point out, Gubicza's all over the team leaderboards:

Gubicza, who won 20 games in 1988 and was an All-Star selection in 1988-89, pitched from 1984-96 with the Royals. His Royals career rankings include, 327 starts (second), 1,366 strikeouts (second), 42 complete games (seventh), 16 shutouts (third), 2,218 2/3 innings (second), 382 appearances (fourth) and 783 walks (first).

Its interesting to note that Sabes was inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame before Gubicza, given that Gubes played for the Royals a little longer; starting 101 more games. Of course, Sabes won 110 games with the Royals - only 22 behind Gubes - with a lower ERA (3.21 to 3.91) and only two fewer shutouts (16 to 14).

Given that both guys came up in 1984 and famously led the Royals to a World Championship in 1985, it follows that the two often enter into discussions of the other, much like Gooden and Strawberry, for example. While Gubes played with the Royals through 1996, Saberhagen left a bit earlier in 1992. Moreover, Gubicza only played one non-Royal season, making two starts with the 1997 Angels; where he had been traded with Mike Bovee for Chili Davis. In Los Angeles (nee Anaheim, nee California) Gubes struggled, posting a forgettable 25.07 ERA en route to retirement. However, he did earn $1.6 million from the Angels in the process.

Sabes on the other hand, bounced around for nearly a decade, famously alternating good and bad years (supposedly) and battling injuries. Saberhagen spent 1992-4 in New York, and was traded in-season from New York to Colorado. With the Rockies, Sabes posted an ERA of 6.28 and looked to be headed out of baseball. Instead, he remerged with the 1997 Red Sox, after no appearances in 1996. In '98 and '99 with the Red Sox Saberhagen made 53 starts with ERAs of 3.96 and 2.95. Although he was in somewhat limited duty, 1999 was in fact one of Saberhagen's better seasons, featuring a ERA+ of 172 (that's what 2.95 in late 90s AL baseball will get you). After another year away due to injury, Saberhagen made one last comeback, starting 3 games with the '01 Sawks. Thanks largely to the generosity of the Mets and Red Sox, Saberhagen made over $47 million in baseball, with only about $9 million coming from your KC Royals.

Hurt by injury-plagued campaigns in 1990, '91 and '92, Gubes never quite cashed in like that, earning roughly $16 million, which perhaps explains why he's currently coaching high school baseball in Chatsworth. (Which is, coincidentally, the porn capital of America.)

Mark was an AL All-Star in 1988 & '89, finishing 3rd in the '88 Cy Young Voting to Frank Viola. That '88 season saw Gubes go 20-8 with a 2.70 ERA for a 84-77 Royals team that finished 19.5 games behind the Bash Brothers. Through 1989 Gubes was an innings machine, leading the American League in starts in '89, while finishing 3rd in '88 and '87.

After wandering in the wilderness of injury and ineffectiveness for a few seasons, Gubicza put together one last great season in 1995. That season Gubes started 33 games in a post-strike short season, for a Royals team that went 70-74, thanks to one of the worst offenses in baseball. Gubes threw 3 complete games that year, with 2 shutouts and an 3.75 ERA. Don't let the 12-14 record fool you, Gubes was one of the best hurlers in the American League, and helped make the Royals watchable as Cleveland rampaged through the League. Never a huge strikeout guy, Gubizca simply didn't walk people when he was on, and even as late as 1995, he finished 5th in the AL in BB/9, allowing only 2.62.

In short, he was often the pitcher that we hope young Greinke can become some day.

Mark Gubicza never batted in 14 major league seasons.

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