#74 - Mark Eichhorn - RH Middle Reliever
Mark Eichhorn was one of the best middle relievers in franchise history. Too bad he was on three mediocre Angel teams: the 80-82 4th place 1990 squad, the .500 7th place 1991 team and the awful 72-90 1992 team (he was traded midway thru that season).
The 1991 team was arguably the best last place team in baseball history, and Eichhorn's 1.98 ERA in 70 appearances was the bridge to the then-indominatable Bryan Harvey and his record 46 saves. During the 2005 season, Francisco Rodriguez bumped Eichhorn out of the Top 20 all-time pitching appearances. Mark stands now at #21 with 196 games under the Halo.
Rob McMillin of the 6-4-2 L.A. Baseball Blog looks a little deeper...
Mark Eichhorn came up with the Blue Jays, setting team records for rookie relief in ERA, games, wins, strikeouts -- and hit batters. A sidearmer, he tried to alter his delivery to reduce steals -- which, combined with shoulder problems, sapped his effectiveness, eventually ending in him going to Atlanta. After an unimpressive season there, the Angels signed him to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Winning one of five open relief spots in a field of eight pitchers, he immediately turned heads with a 1.04 ERA in his first month (17.1 innings) of work, garnering four saves. He looked like the guy who'd been missing from Toronto since 1986, something Eichhorn credited to a return to his forkball, a pitch he'd abandoned previously but the Angels encouraged.
The next year was even better, as his ERA dropped to 1.98 over 81.1 innings. A similarly good season -- 2.38 ERA --in 1992 tempted the Blue Jays to trade for him, this time for outfielder Rob Ducey and catcher Greg Myers. He came back to the Angels in 1996 as a free agent, but missed most of the season due to increasing difficulties with his shoulder. Returning for a few games in September, he retired after the season ended.