#47 - Ken Forsch, RH SP
Ken Forsch was one of the few strong arms on the staff of the 1982 A.L. Western Division Champion Angels. The cream of that team's key players are represented much higher on this list, but that team as a whole has been almost absent from the Top 100 so far.
Ken Forsch pitched nearly 200 innings and won 13 games in a season that was crucial to the Angels - after assembling a free-agent juggernaut commencing with the 1977 season, all Gene Autry had to show for it was the 1979 divisional championship. 1980 and 81 were injury-marred campaigns with even bigger gaffes committed by the front office. That the Angels got to the 1982 post-season and within two innings of the World Series reaffirmed Autry's commitment to winning, at least for a few more seasons.
While he was in the twilight of an outstanding career for his stint as an Angel, Forsch was a big name, the type of marquee veteran that sells tickets through an implied franchise stability. For all of the intangibles of veteran leadership that stat-heads scoff at, the fact remains that for four seasons, Forsch anchored a staff that included a rookie Mike Witt.
Ken is now the Angels' Assistant General Manager - maybe someone on the inside will leak word to Halo's Heaven here and we might know just how Ken influences the club and its recent success.
Rob McMillin of the 6-4-2 Southern California Baseball Blog breaks down Ken's stay in Anaheim:
A native Californian originally drafted by the Angels (but did not sign), Ken Forsch eventually was drafted by the Astros organization. He and brother Bob were the only brothers to ever throw no-hitters in the majors (Ken's was on April 7, 1979, versus the Braves). After 11 years with Houston, and a 12-13, 3.20 ERA season, the Astros traded him to the Angels for SS Dickie Thon. Jason Thompson, who had barely had time to get his Angels uniform tailored, found out on the same day he was to be sent to the Pirates in a parallel trade, and later that day to the Yankees. Echoing some who initially felt it was an April Fool's prank, Thompson's assessment was that "the club panicked."
He was partly right. Forsch, while a valuable pitcher, had only pitched more than 200 innings twice, and two years he hurled fewer than 100 innings. The Angels, to some degree, were getting another pig in a poke, an aging pitcher with a history of injuries, in exchange for a promising shortstop. On the other hand, it was a trade made of necessity, with Dave Frost having trouble with back spasms and elbow stiffness.
For Forsch, the trade was good news. The Astros by that time had a four-man starting rotation of Don Sutton, Nolan Ryan, Joe Niekro, and Bob Knepper, and had no interest in Forsch as a starter. Forsch also wanted to join a contender, which the Angels, strangely, were seen as going into 1981. With Forsch on the mound, they were, or at least, not an embarrassment, finishing fourth in the first half and sixth in the second half in the seven-team AL West. Tossing ten complete games, he led the rotation in ERA, and the staff in wins, resulting in an All Star appearance in the strike-shortened year.
Forsch entered a slow decline following that year, posting numbers much closer to or slightly below league average. On April 7, 1984, while diving to tag Blue Jays first baseman Willie Upshaw, he landed on his elbow and dislocated his shoulder, an injury that would knock him out for the balance of the year. Despite it, the Angels finished at .500, and in second place in an unusually weak AL West. He missed 1985 as well with elbow trouble. Pitching in relief in his final year, he was released midseason by the team