Random Retro Baseball Player: Frank Tanana | Sharapova's Thigh

Next up in our "Random Retro Baseball Player" series, we look at pitcher Frank Tanana as requested by our friends at Detroit4lyfe...

Years Played: 1973-1993.

Teams Played For: California Angels(73-80), Boston Red Sox(81), Texas Rangers(82-85), Detroit Tigers(85-92), New York Mets(93), New York Yankees(93).

Position: Pitcher(638 Games, 616 Games Started).

Bats/Throws: Left/Left.

Career Line: 240-236, 3.66 ERA, 1.270 WHIP, 106 ERA+, 2773 K, 143 CG, 34 SHO, 4188.1 IP.

Best Season: 1976- 19-10, 2.43 ERA, 0.988 WHIP, 136 ERA+, 261 K, 23 CG, 2 SHO, 34 G(All Started), 288.1 IP.

Awards/Leaderboard: 3-Time Al All-Star (1976, 1977, 1978).

Top 10 In AL Cy Young Voting 3 Times (1975-4th, 1976-3rd, 1977-9th).

Led AL In ERA In 1977 (2.54).

Led AL In ERA+ In 1977 (154).

Led AL In WHIP In 1976 (0.988).

Led AL In Strikeouts In 1975 (269).

Led AL in Strikeouts/9 IP In 1975 (9.41).

Led AL In Shutouts In 1977 (7).

2-Time AL Leader In Strikeout/Walk Ratio (1975-3.685, 1976-3.575).

Fun Facts: Frank Tanana was known for strikeouts in his first few major league seasons, and really showed why on June 21, 1975, when he struck out 17 batters in a game.

He's second all-time in American League strikeouts, with 2,669, just 10 behind the leader(Mickey Lolich).

He had double-digit strikeout games 32 times in his career.

His 240 wins are the most for a pitcher that's never had a 20+ win season.

He is one of two pitchers to give up a home run to each of the top two home run hitters of all time, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds.

My Take: I only got to see Frank Tanana in his later years when he was a finesse pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, New York Mets, and New York Yankees. He was very good in these years, always making over 30 starts, usually winning double-digit games, and usually having a solid ERA. However, this isn't the pitcher so many of you saw earlier in Tanana's career as a California Angel.

When Tanana came up, he fired 100+ MPH fastballs and blew hitters away. He was simply dominating for five of his first six years in the league, with his worst ERA being just 3.65 in that span. He was also doing this while throwing a ton of innings, with the lowest amount from 1974 to 1978 being 239. Understandably, he suffered a shoulder injury.

After the shoulder injury, he learned to change speeds and develop better offspeed pitches, and was able to still be a very good pitcher in the league for the remainder of his career. He developed an absolute filthy curveball that I most remember in his days as a Tiger.

You've probably noticed Tanana is like other pitchers I've covered for the "Random Retro" like Mark Gubicza, in that he went from being a power pitcher to a finesse pitcher. He learned how to pitch rather than simply throw the ball by hitters like his incredible talent allowed him to do early in his career. The ability to basically completely change the pitcher you are and pitch at such a high level still is something I really admire, and I don't think some of these pitchers get enough credit for it. So cheers to you, Frank Tanana. Great career.

Link To Frank Tanana's Baseball-Reference Page

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