#56 - BOB LEE, P
We ranked Bob at 48th Greatest Angel in our Top 100 Angels countdown compiled after the 2008 season (LINK) and erroneously had him at #81 All-Time in our list published after the 2005 season.
The Angels picked up a jackpot from Pittsburgh in 1963 in the form of a 6'3, 220 LB 26-year old career minor league righty out of Bellflower High School. Bob Lee had been in the minor leagues since 1956. He had played for the Douglas Copper Kings of the Arizona-Mexico League, the San Jose JoSox of the California league before there was major league baseball on the west coast and the Dubuque Packers of the Midwest League.
He made his major debut for the Angels in the second game of the 1964 season as a middle reliever, pitching one shutout inning. He got a spot start in his third-ever career game and went ten innings, surrendered one run and did not factor in the 2-1 loss. He would only start five games that season as his value out of the bullpen became increasingly obvious.
Lee was a relief pitcher late to the big leagues - he showed up and posted a 1.51 ERA in 59 relief appearances and 5 spot starts in his first season. He finished 39 games, had 19 Saves and pitched 137 innings in 1964, the year Dean Chance won the Cy Young with the Angels.
His ERA+ that year was 219. In 1965 he made the All Star team and pitched exclusively in relief, notching 131 innings with an Earned Run Average of 1.92. Bob had 23 Saves and an ERA+ of 175 that year. No member of the Angels bullpen has had two seasons this good since... well, ever! Nobody has had a year as good as either of those seasons since Gene Mauch was the team's manager. They are easily the two best back-to back years by an Angels reliever.
But he wasn't done yet - he appeared in 61 games in 1966, but had his first ERA over two points with a 2.74 mark in 101 innings with 16 Saves and an ERA+ of 122. Watching his stats fall ever so slowly back to earth, the Angels sold high. Rarely has a trade ever been consummated at precisely the right moment. He tanked in 1967, was worse in '68 and was out of baseball soon thereafter.
Bob Lee packed a lot of baseball into three seasons. Take a look...
His 1964 ERA of 1.51 is the best single season mark ever by an Angels regular, beating out Dean Chance's 1.62 from the same season.
His 1.92 ERA in 1965 is the third best ever for an Angels single season.
His WHIP of 1.043 in 1965 is seventh best and his 1.058 WHIP form 1964 is the ninth best.
Hist per 9? 5.71 in 1964 (second best) and 6.510 (eighth best).
58 Saves in his Angels career - eighth best (Ernesto Frieri just passed him, but hasn't even pitched one-third as many innings as an Angel as Bob Lee did).
Games Finished - 128... sixth most all time.
ERA+ in 1965 of 175... fifth best single season mark for an Angels pitcher.
ERA+ of 219 in 1965 ...best ever in club history.
You probably never heard of him. He wasn't used in the specialist closer role as so many pitchers are today and thus he threw way more innings in a shorter span of time after wandering the proverbial minor league desert for too long, but let the record show that Bob Lee is an undersung, but worthy, Top 100 Angel.