10th Best All-Time Astros Starter
Ken Forsch by Elliott Jenkins
While not a necessarily a household name to younger Astros fans, Forsch’s legendary accomplishments stand tall among a who’s who of Astros pitching legends.
The Astros drafted Forsch out of Oregon State in the 18th round of he 1968 Draft. Forsch pitched in 1970 and found his way to the rotation in 1971. Forsch became the Astros’ closer in 1974. He was an All-Star closer in 1976, bookending a staff that included Larry Dierker, J.R. Richard, Joaquin Andujar, and Joe Niekro.
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The Astros moved him back to the rotation in 1979, and Forsch rewarded them with an April 7 no-hitter against the Atlanta Braves. He ended up leading the league in WHIP with 1.069 and a 1.8 BB/9. His only taste of the postseason would come as a part of the excellent 1980 pitching rotation that included Joe Niekro, Vern Ruhle, JR Richard, and some old rancher named Nolan Ryan. Forsch started the started the first game of the NLCS against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Forsch is 9th all-time on the career Astros WAR leaderboard with 19.1, behind Shane Reynolds with 19.2 and ahead of Roger Clemens at 16.8. He is also 9th all-time in Astros ERA and 3rd all-time in Astros appearances as a pitcher. He is 10th all-time in Astros innings, 10thall-time in Astros complete games, and 9th all-time in Astros shutouts. He is 3rd all-time in single-season HR/9 in 1978 and 8th in career Astros HR/9. He and his brother Bob Forsch are the only two brothers in MLB history to each throw a no-hitter.
The Astros traded Forsch to the California Angels in 1981 for 23-year-old shortstop Dickie Thon. Thon’s WAR was 6.1 and 7.4 in 1981 and 1982 respectively, and in 1983, Thon was voted an All-Star, won the Silver Slugger at shortstop and finished 7th in the MVP race. Forsch had stellar 1981 with the Angels, leading the league in shutouts and making the All-Star team for the second and final time in his career. Forsch’s career achievements stand the test of time amid one of the league’s most hypercompetitive eras.
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