A tremendous all-round talent, Jesse Tannehill could do it all on the ball diamond. The southpaw was one of the best hitting pitchers in the game, fielded his position well and had accuracy that could put Greg Maddux to blush. Tannehill’s 1.559 walks per nine inning average is the 27th best mark in baseball history.
Tannehill made his big league debut with the Cincinnati Reds in 1894 and was received rudely at the Major League level. He wouldn’t get another shot in the Majors until the Pirates brought him up three years later. After struggling in 1897, Jesse put it together in 1898 when he went 25-13 for the Pirates. The southpaw logged 327 innings for the Bucs and walked just 63 batters.
Tannehill worked 320+ plus innings again in 1899 for the Pirates and nailed down 24 victories for the boys from Pittsburgh. A 20-game winner for the third year in a row in 1900, Jesse was a member of the hard-charging Pirates who were becoming the National League’s powerhouse thanks to an influx of talent when a number of the Louisville Colonels were essentially transferred to Pittsburgh.
During the first year of the two league platform, Tannehill paced the National League with a microscopic 2.18 ERA. Even better in 1902, Jesse lowered his ERA to 1.95 and posted another 20-win season with his trademark exceptional control. He tossed 231 innings for the Pirates and only issued 25 free passes–good for a 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Jesse’s 0.108 walks per inning was better than Hall of Fame peers Jack Chesbro (0.217), Vic Willis (0.246) and Cy Young (0.138).
Like many players of his time, Tannehill was lured away from the National League by the roster raiding American League. He jumped the Pirates and signed with the Yankees in 1903. But after a poor 15-15 season in ’03, the Yankees traded Jesse to the Red Sox for hurler Long Tom Hughes. Jesse got back on track in Boston with his fifth 20-win season. He lowered his ERA from 3.27 in 1903 to 2.04 in 1904. Just as good in 1905, Tannehill fashioned a 22-9 record on a 2.48 ERA.
His last good year came in 1905 as Jesse fell to 13-11 in 1906. His workload was cut in 1907 as Jesse was asked to pitch 131 innings and no more. He never again topped the 100 innings pitched marker. He made one start with the Red Sox in 1908 before he was traded to Washington for southpaw Casey Patten. His season was cut short to injury and he only pitched sparingly after that. Tannehill ended his career after the 1911 season.
W 197/L 117/PCT .627/G 359/CG 264/SHO 34/IP 2,759/H 2,794/BB 478/SO 944