Saturday, February 5, 2011

#91 - Ken Forsch

Here is Ken Forsch at Candlestick which I really like since it is the first time in a long while we get to see an Astro in a real stadium. Ken seems to be not too overjoyed to have the photographer there but he does have a friend behind him so he's not totally anti-social. My first guess as to the player's identity would be Roger Metzger due to those sideburns but since the pitchers and players didn't mingle too much on the field, I am going to go with Mike Griffin. He had pretty good sideburns also. '73 would be Ken's big transition year: a starter his whole career to date, he led off the season in the rotation and by the end of June was 8-8 with a 3.21 ERA in that role. But after a couple ineffective starts he moved to the pen, a move that in my guess was also prompted by the general ineffectiveness of the rest of the bullpen. Ken's ERA would move up a bit after that move, but he would record four saves. He would also make that role work for him much better down the line.

Ken Forsch grew up in California and after finishing high school in '64 went to Sacramento City State where he played baseball and hoops and was nabbed by the Angels in the '66 draft but instead he decided to transfer to Oregon State. He remained at the school for two years - he also passed up the Cubs in '67 - got an All-American honorable mention and still holds the school's strikeout record for a season. In '68 he was drafted in a late round by the Astros and that summer threw some good A ball innings around his military reserve work. He did that again in '69 in Rookie - a 1.10 ERA in his ten starts - and back in A ball. He made big strides in '70 when he went 17-8 with a 1.96 ERA in Double and Triple A and then saw his first MLB work in a few late-season starts. He then spent the better part of the next three seasons in the rotation, usually the fourth spot. He recorded a very nice ERA in '71 but the saw it inlate a bit the following year when he had some elbow problems. That trend then continued a bit into '73.

When Houston got Claude Osteen for the '74 season, Forsch moved full time to the bullpen where he found substantially more success. That year he did a nice job as closer as we won 18, saved ten, and put up a 2.79 ERA. In '75 as the starting staff sort of imploded - not one had an ERA under 4.00 - Ken moved to a swing role and only got two saves. But in '76 a return to the closer role worked real well as his 2.15 ERA and 19 saves got him an All-Star nod. The next two seasons Ken added spot starts and during that time went a combined 15-14 with a 2.70 ERA and 15 saves. That latter year he recorded his first two shutouts since '71. In '79 Ken moved back into the rotation and celebrated by throwing a no-hitter in his first start against Atlanta. He won 11 that year and 12 in '80, Houston's first playoff season. He lost his only start against Philly but pitched pretty well and got two hits in the game. Following the season he went to California for shortstop Dickie Thon.

Forsch's first year in California was the strike one which was too bad because that season he earned his second All-Star nod and led the league in shutouts while going 11-7 with a 2.88 ERA. He then won 13 in '82 and 11 in '83 while throwing .500 ball with an elevated ERA (though it was below league average). In '84 he was off to a nice start when he suffered a season-ending injury covering first base. He also missed the entire following season. He attempted a comeback with the Angels and then Seattle - at its Triple A team - in '86 and then called it quits. He finished with a record of 114-113 with an ERA of 3.37, 70 complete games, 18 shutouts, and 51 saves. In the post-season he was 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA in his two games.

After playing Forsch would do the real estate thing for a few years. He would make his way back to baseball with the Angels, initially serving as the team's Director of Palyer Development (1994-'97) and then its Assistant to the General Manager ('98-present).

'71 was pretty much Ken's best season through this set. His brother Bob of course went on to have his own pretty good career. He and Ken are the only brothers to both throw no-hitters.

We can actually link these guys through both leagues. I will opt for the NL:

1. Forsch and Greg Gross '73 to '76 Astros;
2. Gross and Bobby Murcer '77 to '78 Cubs.

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