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One Year Wonder: Don Aase

Aase spent one hot summer in Boston and went on to become a solid reliever for the Orioles and Angels.

Don Aase pitches Photo by: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

In 2016, the Boston Red Sox acquired more than a number of players either via trade or free agency. In 2017, they will probably do the same. In the years since 1969 when Curt Flood first fought for free agency, Boston has been the owner of one of the hottest stoves in baseball. Some of those moves work out spectacularly (Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez) and others fall in the other direction (Larry Andersen and Carl Crawford). And then some others are a mix of both.

That brings us to a new series here at Over the Monster where we will examine the best seasons from players who only donned the Red Sox uniform for one year. Today we’ll take a look at Don Aase.

How He Came to Boston

Aase, a California native, was drafted by the Red Sox in the sixth round of the 1972 amateur draft at the age of 17. He faced his fair share of growing pains in the Red Sox organization, posting an ERA of 5.81 in his first year in minor league ball. However, he slowly moved up the ladder and eventually got his shot to play at the big league level in 1977.

What He Did in Boston

Despite a 5.04 ERA in 18 starts with Pawtucket in the first half of the 1977 campaign, Aase was called up to make is MLB debut on July 26. It was a debut to remember, as the right-hander threw nine impressive innings, allowing three runs (two earned) and striking out 11 in a 4-3 win over Milwaukee.

He went on to throw three more complete games during his half season with the Sox, and the starts in between were strong as well. He finished the year with an ERA of 3.12, which mirrored his FIP (3.17), across 92 13 innings of work. Far from a swing and miss pitcher, he only struck out 4.8 batters per nine innings, but he was effective nonetheless. He pitched on the same staff as Luis Tiant and Bill Lee and and closed the season eighth on the team in WAR (2.4) despite missing the first few months of the campaign.

Why He Left Boston

Aase didn’t leave by his own accord. After seeing him succeed in a half year audition, the Red Sox struck while the iron was hot and sent Aase to the California Angels for Jerry Remy (you may have heard of him). Remy was a quick infielder who had slashed .258/.315/.319/ in three years with the Angels. Not much of a take-a-walk kind of guy, Remy posted just one season with an OPS+ of 100 or more with Boston and his single-season high in WAR for the Sox was 1.9.

What He Did After Boston

Aase never turned into a top of the rotation starter, but he was a solid pitcher throughout his career. He pitched for six years with the Angels, although he missed two seasons with an elbow injury. Still with a 3.91 ERA and 3.94 FIP across 695 13 innings of work with California, he was better than league average, especially after he was converted to a full-time reliever in 1981.

In his first year as a free agent after the 1984 season, Aase signed with the Orioles. It was during his time in Baltimore that he had his most success, pitching to a 3.49 ERA and 3.66 FIP over four years. He also earned his one and only All-Star appearance in 1986 when he posted career-highs in K/9 (7.4), saves (34), while earning a positively gorgeous 2.98 ERA.

By 1989, at age 34, Aase was nearing the end of the line, as he would pitch for the Mets and Dodgers on one-year deals in back-to-back seasons before retiring following the 1990 season.