Wednesday, November 11, 2009

1976 Topps #264 - Steve Renko

  • Funny -- Steve Renko recently came up in the 1980 Topps blog. Steve was drafted by the New York Mets in 1965. He didn't start pitching until 1966, and he split time between pitching and playing OF and 1B during his entire time in the Mets' system (1965-1969). Steve pitched pretty well in the minors from 1965-1968, never having an ERA over 3.29. In 1969 Renko had a record of 3-5 with a 5.45 ERA in AAA Tidewater when, on June 15, he was traded to the Montreal Expos as part of the deal that sent Don Clendennon to the Mets.

  • Renko was inserted into the Montreal rotation and went 6-7 with a 4.01 ERA in 18 games (15 starts). Early in his career Steve had an above-average number of walks. From 1969-1972 he usually walked about 4.4 batters per nine innings, except in the rough 1972 season when he walked 6.2 batters per nine innings.

  • Steve was a pretty solid pitcher for Montreal in 1970 and 1971. In 1970 he was 13-11 with a 4.32 ERA in 41 games (33 starts). In 1971 he was 15-14 with an ERA of 3.75 in 40 games (37 starts).

  • Something happened in 1972. There aren't any large gaps in Steve's appearances in 1972, but he wasn't used as much. His record was 1-10 with an ERA of 5.20 in 30 games (12 starts). He did have his best batting average (.292) during that season.

  • Renko bounced back with his best season in 1973. He was 15-11 with a 2.81 ERA in 36 games (34 starts). He was starting to solve his control problems -- he walked 3.9 batters per nine innings in 1973 and it number wouldn't get that high again until 1978.

  • In 1974 Renko led the National League in wild pitches with 19. He had a 12-16 record with an ERA of 4.03 in 37 games (35 starts). Steve apparently had some injury problems in 1975. He started only one game before May 10 (he made three relief appearances and one start before that day). His record dropped to 6-12 with a 4.07 ERA in 31 games (25 starts).

  • Steve started slowly in 1976. He was 0-1 with a 5.54 ERA in five games (1 start) when he was traded with Larry Biittner to the Chicago Cubs for Andre Thornton. The Cubs put Renko into the starting rotation and he went 8-11 with a 3.86 ERA in 27 starts. In 1977 Steve had more injury problems -- he missed over a month early in the season. He was 2-2 with a 4.56 ERA for the Cubs when he was traded to the Chicago White Sox for Larry Anderson and cash on August 18. Renko started eight games for the White Sox during the stretch drive and went 5-0 with a 3.54 ERA.

  • Renko was traded (with Jim Essian) to the Oakland A's for Pablo Torrealba during spring training in 1978. He went 6-12 with a 4.29 ERA in 27 games (25 starts) for the A's. After the season he became a free agent and signed with the Boston Red Sox.

  • Steve spent two seasons with the Red Sox. In 1979 he was 11-9 with a 4.11 ERA in 27 starts. In 1980 Renko was 9-9 with an ERA of 4.19 in 32 games (23 starts). After the 1980 season he and Fred Lynn were traded to the California Angels for Frank Tanana, Joe Rudi, and Jim Dorsey.

  • Renko had a pretty good season in 1981. He was 8-4 with a 3.44 ERA in 22 games (15 starts). In 1982 he was 11-6 with a 4.44 ERA in 31 games (23 starts). He didn't appear in any games for the Angels in the 1982 American League Championship Series. After the 1982 season Steve was released by the Angels and signed by the Kansas City Royals.

  • The 1983 season was Steve's last one. He went 6-11 with a 4.30 ERA in 25 games (17 starts) for the Royals. Renko was released after the season and retired.

  • Renko pitched five one-hitters in his career.
  • After his playing career Steve did some coaching in the minors. His most recent assignment as a pitching coach was with the High Desert Mavericks (Class A California League) in 2006.

  • Steve's son (Steve Renko III) played pro baseball for 12 years and reached the AAA level.

  • Here is an interview from February 2009 on Behind the Stats radio.
  • Liked to face: Joe Morgan (.184 in 49 AB); Richie Hebner (.197 in 71 AB); Larry Bowa (.208 in 72 AB)
  • Hated to face: Al Oliver (.412 in 68 AB); Ken Singleton (.400 in 50 AB); Johnny Bench (.385 in 52 AB)

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