The Los Angeles/California/Anaheim Angels have played almost 60 seasons of baseball. As the baseball world is suspended due to circumstances outside its control, it is time to look back at the history of this organization. There have been many talented players to put on the uniform, and we at Crashing the Pearly Gates wish to highlight the best who have ever represented the Angels. Without further ado, here we go!
#92 – Dave LaRoche
As a relief pitcher for the Angels in the 70’s and 1980, Dave’s 65 career saves for the Angels ranks 7th all time with a high of 25 in 1978. He went 35-32 with a 3.56 ERA, FIP of 3.73, and a WHIP of 1.3 in his 6 seasons for the Halos. His 6.5 BWAR was the 34th best for a pitcher in the organization. With 35 wins he is 30th all time in Angels history for that and 17th in ERA. Amazingly, his WHIP of 1.3 was just slightly behind the Express in his Angels tenure, ranking 22nd.
Dave didn’t have any amazing seasons with the Angels, his 3 best seasons being elsewhere. While he never attained more than a 130 ERA+ for California (and a couple seasons below 100), he is fondly remembered for being a solid reliever for the team in the 70’s. 304 times he went out on the mound for the Angels, 8th all time. The Angels actually drafted him twice and traded him, and then traded for him. He wasn’t the best closer the Angels had by any means, but he was reliable for 6 seasons. (Just do not look at the 1979 playoffs. 😬)
What I remember about LaRoche is how happy he seemed when the Angels reacquired him. I think the quote he gave was “Tommy Lasorda may bleed Dodger Blue but I bleed Angel Red”.
I’ll never forget that quote because you know how I feel about Tommy Lasorda
I’m assuming y’all have picked your list. Perhaps some would find it fun to predict the Top 10. Here’s my prediction:
6. Fregosi (who could easily be in top 3)
(Yes – Carew didn’t make my top 10 as an Angel.) Of course, if it was the best 10 MLB players to ever have worn an Angels uniform, Pujols and Carew would be on the list.
I was at this West Torrance High grads first game at the stadium in 1970, a week night with few in attendance. He had 2 son’s make it to the Majors, impressive.
Why highlight the 1979 playoffs for LaRoche????
He only appeared in game 5, coming in the 3rd to relieve a struggling Chris Knapp and induced an inning ending double play. Yes he also gave up a run on two doubles the following inning (one to Doug DeCinces), but one appearance and 1.1 innings in a 8-0 blowout loss hardly merits the disparaging remark.
I’m loving the series overall, but there also appears to be a miasma of negativity permeating some of these posts.
Sorry about that.
One of the things Dave LaRoche was most famous for was his specialty pitch, which he called the “LaLob.” He debuted the pitch in his final game as an Angel on September 30th, 1980 at a home game against Robin Yount’s Milwaukee Brewers.
In the weeks prior to this game, while warming up in the bullpen, he wondered how high he could throw his curve ball and still have it fall into the strike zone. He worked on it and perfected it so that he could throw it 20 feet high at a speed of only 28 mph.
When he finally brought the pitch into a game, it was a great success. Angel starting pitcher Bob Ferris had given up three runs in the first inning, and manager Jim Fregosi called on LaRoche to start the second inning. LaRoche mixed in the LaLob with his other pitches and immediately went on a streak of retiring the first 20 batters he faced.
LaRoche became a free agent at the end of the 1980 season, signed with the New York Yankees, and continued to have success with this unusual pitch.
Slow-pitch, high-arc softball…
I was at that game and remember it. Better than an ephus.