Thursday, June 1, 2023

Your 1981 Red Sox Pt. 28: Frank Tanana

In this series, I will look at each player who played in 1981, the year I was born. Because, why not?

There was a time when Frank Tanana, along with Nolan Ryan, gave the Angels a terrific one-two punch from each side of the mound.  Tanana had been a three-time All Star with the Angels and led the league in ERA one year and strikeouts another.  He struck out more than 200 batters in three straight seasons.  Unfortunately, unlike Ryan, Tanana was not built to withstand the kind of wear and tear on his body and broke down.  He had been in decline for three seasons before he was traded to the Red Sox.  

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, they were not able to right the ship and that hurt particularly badly when considering that Tanana was the primary return the Red Sox received in exchange for superstar and fan favorite Fred Lynn.  Boston had botched contract negotiations with Lynn and had to trade him or lose him for nothing, as they did with Carlton Fisk.  Surely there could have been something better out there instead of Tanana and the broken-down husk of Joe Rudi.  

Tanana pitched in 24 games with the Red Sox, starting 23 of them, and threw 141.1 innings.  He had a record of 4-10 with a 4.01 ERA.  He threw five complete games and two shutouts, striking out 78 and walking 43.  The season represented a turning point in his career as he transitioned into more of a crafty southpaw instead of a flamethrower.

Of course Boston would not reap the rewards of the second career of Tanana.  He was allowed to leave as a free agent, signing with the Texas Rangers, making the Lynn deal look that much worse.  Tanana led the league in losses in 1982, but started to turn things around and pitch another 12 seasons, primarily with the Rangers and Tigers.  Not bad for a pitcher whose career appeared to be in serious decline, if not over, at 27 years of age.

1 comment:

  1. Doesn't even look like the same guy in both those cards. Love the Coke card though.