Tuesday, August 5, 2008

#586 Bob Forsch

Why this card is awesome: Because of the alarmingly teeny-tiny strikeout rate--just 1039 K's in 2550.1 innings. Wow. Amazing Forsch made it that many years in the first place.

Cool stat: Forsch was actually not that great of a pitcher despite sticking around for a long time. He had more seasons with a below-average ERA than above-average ERA and finished with a career ERA+ of 98. Not terrible, but not what you'd expect for a guy who played so many years. What saved Forsch's reputation was his W-L% of .553, as well as the no-hitter he threw. Looking since 1901 at pitchers with at least 2000 career IP and an ERA+ of 100 or less (meaning league average or worse,) Forsch makes the top 10 for W-L%. There are some good pitchers on this list, but mostly it's populated by guys who played on good teams but weren't fantastic pitchers: Dave Stewart (helped tremendously by being on the Athletics at their peak 1988-1990), Scott McGregor, John Burkett, and Bill Gullickson are all good examples.

The most telling stat? His actual W-L record was 168-136 (.553) but his neutralized record was 151-157 (.490), which sounds about right for a guy with a 98 ERA+. Also his 1977 record of 20-7 neutralizes to 13-11--whoa!

Ironically, Bob's brother Ken Forsch had basically the opposite career. He finished 114-113 (.502) but with an ERA+ of 106, a little above average. His neutralized record is 126-106 (.543.)


Jim said...

he looks like he is about to throw and ephous pitch. Not a 100 MPHer

MMayes said...

I was a Cardinal fan. Forsch came up about the time the Cards started royally sucking and, unfortunately, he was the best we had. He stuck around so long because there just weren't any alternatives. His career was basically over when he had back surgery in '84, but he was able to come back and be a serviceable innings eater. That, and he had a reputation for being a good hitter.

Raoul said...

Bob Forsch not only threw one no hitter but two; his first was April 16, 1978: http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1978/B04160SLN1978.htm.

Ken also threw a no-hitter, almost exactly a year later: http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1979/B04070HOU1979.htm. I believe this makes them the only pair of brothers to throw no hitters.

I'm a Cardinals fan too, and when I was growing up, we believed that Forsch's concentration was so great he would switch his wad of chewing tobacco from one cheek to the other in the middle of his delivery. I have no idea if that's true, but it was a way to imitate a hometown player when your ability to imitate someone was only very rudimentary.