Frank Tanana

Frank Tanana

July 3, 1953
6' 2"
180 lbs
Major League Debut:
9-09-1973 with CAL


Frank Tanana suffered an arm injury in his sixth season that forced him to change his entire approach. He went from a 100 mile-per-hour flamethrower to a looping curveballer, but he maintained his success, winning 240 games and striking out the second most batters by a left-hander in American League history. On the final day of the 1987 season he pitched his biggest game, shutting out the Blue Jays 1-0 at Tiger Stadium to clinch the AL East title for Detroit, his hometown team. In 1979, he had won the division clincher for the Angels, defeating the Royals, 4-1.

Unform Number

#40 (1973-1981), #28 (1982-1985 Rangers), #26 (1985 Tigers-1992), #29 (1993 Mets), #31 (1993 Yankees)

Replaced By

His last steady job in a rotation was with the Mets in 1993. In 1994, the Mets tried a couple of young lefties in his place: Mike Remlinger and Jason Jacome.

Best Season

Tanana was still a fine pitcher after he lost his heater, but his very best seasons occurred in his young Angels days. In '77 he led the AL in ERA (2.54) and shutouts (7). He fanned 205 in 241 1/3 innings and completed 20 games. His record was 15-9 for the 5th place Halos. At one point in the middle of the season he had completed 14 straight games. By year's end, his arm would start to feel the pain, which led to his troubles a few years later.

Factoid 1

Frank Tanana made just 22 relief appearances in more than 600 games pitched.

Factoid 2

Pitching for his hometown Tigers, Frank Tanana won the 200th game of his career on April 28, 1990, against Milwaukee, 13-5.


June 8, 1971: Drafted by the California Angels in the 1st round (13rd pick) of the 1971 amateur draft; January 23, 1981: Traded by the California Angels with Jim Dorsey and Joe Rudi to the Boston Red Sox for Fred Lynn and Steve Renko; November 13, 1981: Granted Free Agency; January 6, 1982: Signed as a Free Agent with the Texas Rangers; June 20, 1985: Traded by the Texas Rangers to the Detroit Tigers for Duane James (minors); November 9, 1987: Granted Free Agency; February 17, 1988: Signed as a Free Agent with the Detroit Tigers; November 13, 1989: Granted Free Agency; November 20, 1989: Signed as a Free Agent with the Detroit Tigers; December 3, 1992: Granted Free Agency; December 10, 1992: Signed as a Free Agent with the New York Mets; September 17, 1993: Traded by the New York Mets to the New York Yankees for Kenny Greer; October 29, 1993: Granted Free Agency.


His ability to throw strikes. He walked less than 2.7 batters per nine innings.


In part because he was around the plate a lot, he surrendered 448 home runs in his career. One of the other weaknesses he had was the lack of a third pitch, especially in the middle of his career. He had a fastball and a curve, but never mastered a third pitch.


Tanana never pitched on a World Series team and only twice did his team's make the playoffs, but both times Tanana won the clinching game. On September 25, 1979, he beat the Royals 4-1 to win the Angels first AL West crown. On October 4, 1987, he shut out the Blue Jays 1-0 in Tiger Stadium to clinch the AL East flag for Detroit. The Tigers had entered the weekend series one game back of Toronto, but swept the series to make the playoffs.

17 Strikeouts

In June, 1975, Frank Tanana still had long hair, a free-spirit, and a 100-MPH fastball. On June 21, in the first game of a twi-nite doubleheader against the Rangers in Anaheim, Tanana enjoyed one of his most dominating performances. With his fastball working well, Tanana recorded the first seven outs of the game via the K, except for a caught baserunner. Tanana had 11 strikeouts through six innings, nursing a 4-2 Angels' lead. He fanned the side in the seventh and eight innings, while allowing two harmless singles. But perhaps due to pitch count, Tanana was pulled to start the ninth, finishing with 17 strikeouts and failing to get the chance to tie the ML record of 19 in a game. He would have faced Lenny Randle, Leo Cardenas and Roy SMalley, who he had whiffed five times already. Regardless, Tanana racked up 17 strikeouts in his 4-2 win over Texas.

Most Career Wins, Never Won 20 Games in a Season

Frank Tanana... 240 wins (19 wins once) Jerry Ruess... 220 wins (18 three times) Charlie Hough... 216 wins (18 once) Milt Pappas... 209 wins (17 twice) Chuck Finley... 200 wins (18 twice)

Most Career Strikeouts by LHP, American League

Mickey Lolich... 2,679 Frank Tanana... 2,669 Chuck Finley... 2,527 Sam McDowell... 2,267 Lefty Grove... 2,266 Mark Langston... 2,233 Jim Kaat... 2,175 Randy Johnson... 2,162 Eddie Plank... 2,099 Rube Waddell... 1,965

Frank Tanana
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