Saturday, October 15, 2016

Your 1981 Red Sox Pt. 3: Tom Burgmeier

In this series, I will look at each player who played in 1981, the year I was born. Because, why not?
In 1981, southpaw reliever Tom Burgmeier was coming off of his only All Star selection for his career.  Burgmeier emerged as Boston's primary closer in 1980 due to injuries to Bill Campbell and Bob Stanley being versatile enough to start several games.  He was largely successful, going 5-4 with a 2.00 ERA and 24 saves.  In 1981, he was no longer the primary closer, but he still saved six games and had a 2.87 ERA.  He was still a very important part of the Red Sox bullpen in 1981.

Burgmeier had been used exclusively in the bullpen for several seasons for the Royals and Twins before first coming to Boston as a free agent to further solidify their bullpen.  He was not terribly successful in 1978, pitching to a fairly high 4.40 ERA and walking almost as many (23) as he struck out (24).
But in 1979, Burgmeier became much more successful.  His ERA dropped to 2.74 and he was relied upon to finish more games.  He also struck out 60 versus walking just 16.  1980 was his sole All Star selection, though he did not appear in the game.  It was his best overall season.  He struck out 54 while walking 20 in 99 innings, and as mentioned, led the team in saves with 24.  He was fifth in the league.
In 1981, the 37-year-old Burgmeier finished third on the team in saves.  Mark Clear (9) and Bob Stanley (7) were the two ahead of him.  He was part of a three-headed closer platoon and was the sole left-hander of the three.  Burgmeier's record dropped to 4-5, but he still struck out more than twice as many hitters as he walked (35 to 17).  Burgmeier finished 21 of his 32 games and had an impressive 2.87 ERA.

1982 would be Burgmeier's final season in Boston, but he was still very effective, finishing with a terrific 7-0 record and a 2.29 ERA while saving just two games.  Clear and Stanley were the primary closers, shifting Burgmeier to the primary setup man.  He delivered by throwing 102.1 innings in 40 games and striking out 44 versus 22 walks.  After the season, Burgmeier left for the Oakland Athletics where he had two more good seasons before retiring.

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