Pittsburgh Pirates All-Time Top 100: 19. Jesse Tannehill

Jesse Tannehill, also known as “Powder”, but most commonly as “Tanny,” was a 5’8” pitcher from Dayton, KY. Born on July 14, 1874, the switch-hitting left-hander signed his first professional contract with the Cincinnati Reds in 1894. A former saloon owner, the notoriously superstitious Tannehill refused to shave on days in which he was scheduled to appear. He joined the Reds right away, compiling a 1-1 record and a 7.14 ERA in five appearances. He allowed 16 walks and 37 hits in 29 innings pitched for a 1.828 WHIP. The Reds did not keep him on their major league roster, instead relegating him to the “B” level Richmond Blue Birds in the Virginia League. In two seasons with the minor league outfit, he went 49-24 with a 2.16 ERA, helping the Birds to consecutive league titles. His numbers prompted the Pirates to select him in the Rule V draft at the end of the 1896 season.

Tannehill’s first season with the Pirates saw him go 9-9 with a team leading 4.25 ERA, completing 11 of 16 starts with five relief appearances. He allowed 172 hits in 142 innings, but he only walked 24 batters for a much improved 1.380 WHIP (NL 10th) and an NL second best 1.521 BB/9. He also ranked third with 1.667 K/BB. The Pirates 60-71 record would see them finish in eighth place in the 12 team National League.

Tannehill’s second Pittsburgh season would see him improve on almost every significant statistic. He won a career high and NL sixth leading 25 games against 13 losses with a 2.95 ERA (NL ninth). He completed 34 out of 38 starts with five shutouts (NL third), also earning two saves (NL second) in five relief showings. His 7.6 WAR was fourth in the NL, his 6.7 pWAR ranked him seventh. He had a 1.239 WHIP (NL seventh), a .658 winning percentage (NL seventh), a 1.736 BB/9 rate (NL fourth), 1.476 K/BB (NL fifth), and an NL tenth best 93 strikeouts. He led Pittsburgh’s pitching corps with a .289 average, including nine doubles, three triples, a home run and 17 RBI. The Pirates again finished the season in eighth place, this time with a 72-76 record.

1899 would see Tannehill continue to produce at the same rate, compiling a 24-14 record (NL fifth in wins) and a 2.82 ERA (NL ninth). He completed 33 of his 36 starts out of 41 total appearances (NL ninth). His 8.4 WAR was good for NL second, his 7.9 pWAR good for NL sixth. He walked 1.453 batters per nine innings (NL third) and struck out 1.25 batters per walk (NL sixth). He hit .250 in 150 Pittsburgh plate appearances as the team finished seventh with a 76-73 record.

In 1900, Tannehill went 20-6 (NL second in wins, and with a .769 win percentage) with a 2.88 ERA (NL sixth), completing 24 of 27 starts. He walked 43 and struck out 50, allowing 247 hits in 234 innings for a 1.239 WHIP (NL seventh) and finished with a 5.0 WAR (NL ninth). He also ranked highly with 1.654 BB/9 (NL third) and 1.163 K/BB ( NL ninth). He hit .336Stablemate Deacon Phillippe went 20-13, giving the Pirates a potent 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation as the team improved to 79-60, missing out on the first pennant of the new century by just 4.5 games to the Brooklyn Superbas.

In 1901, Tannehill won the now unawarded “NL pitching title”, going 18-10 (an NL fourth best .643 win percentage) with an NL leading 2.18 ERA. He allowed 240 hits and walked 36 with 118 strikeouts in 252.1 innings for a 1.094 WHIP (NL fourth). He allowed 8.560 H/9 (NL eighth), 1.284 BB/9 (NL third), 4.209 K/9 (NL eighth), four shutouts (NL seventh), and 3.278 K/BB (NL second). Along with Phillippe (22-12, 2.22), Jack Chesbro (21-10, 2.38), and Sam Leever (14-5, 2.86), Tannehill helped lead the Pirates to an NL Pennant clinching 90-49 record, beating out the Philadelphia Phillies by 7.5 games.

Unfortunately for the Pirates, 1902 would be Tannehill’s last season in Pittsburgh. He duplicated his 1900 record of 20-6 (NL sixth in wins, third with a .769 win percentage), this time with career bests in ERA, at 1.95 (NL third), and WHIP, at 0.987 (NL second). He walked 25 and allowed 203 hits while striking out 100 in 231 innings, completing 23 of his 24 starts. He allowed 7.909 H/9 (NL ninth), 0.974 BB/9 (NL second), and an even four strikeouts per walk (NL second). Pittsburgh ran away with the pennant, going 103-36 and finishing 27.5 games ahead of the Superbas.

Tannehill jumped to the American League’s New York Highlanders prior to the 1903 season. He went 15-15 with a 3.27 ERA. He later played four and a half seasons with the Boston Americans/Red Sox (62-38, 2.50 ERA) and a season and a half with the Washington Senators (3-5, 3.69 ERA) before concluding his career with one Cincinnati Reds appearance in 1911. For more on Tannehill, check out his SABR bio by Nathaniel Staley.

All-Time Statline: 16 seasons, 116-58, 2.75 ERA, 192 games, 171 starts, 149 CG, 17 shutouts, five saves, 1508.0 innings pitched, 1561 hits allowed, 243 walks, 466 strikeouts, 1.196 WHIP, 30.2 WAR (27.1 as a pitcher, 3.1 at the plate).

Next up: the Candyman.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the managing editor (Charlie) or SB Nation. FanPosts are written by Bucs Dugout readers.

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