July 2, 1953 |
Puerto Piritu, Venezuela
|September 6, 1976, for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 1, 1989, for the California Angels|
|Runs batted in||815|
|Career highlights and awards|
Antonio Rafael Armas Machado (born July 2, 1953) is a Venezuelan former professional baseball outfielder who played in Major League Baseball. He is the father of pitcher Tony Armas, Jr. and the older brother of outfielder Marcos Armas.
Armas Sr. was one of the top sluggers in the American League in the early 1980s. Twice he led the American League in home runs, and topped all of Major League Baseball in runs batted in during the 1984 season. He was, however, prone to injuries that affected his career. In his major league career, Armas went to the disabled list twelve times, missing 302 games.
Armas debuted with the Pittsburgh Pirates' Gulf Coast League affiliate in 1971 just shy of his eighteenth birthday. He spent six seasons in their farm system, batting .270 with 69 home runs when he received a September call-up in 1976. He appeared in four games for the Pirates, and collected two hits in six at-bats.
Armas was the opening day right fielder for the A's in 1977, though by the end of the season, he was starting in center, and saw most of his action there. Armas' inability to stay healthy limited him to just 91 games in 1978 and 80 in 1979. For 1980, Armas became a full-time right fielder, and finally played a full season, batting .279 with 35 home runs and 109 runs batted in in 158 games.
In the strike shortened 1981 season, Armas tied for the league lead in home runs (22) and games played (109) to be named the American League Player of the Year by The Sporting News. Then, in 1982 he set a pair of major league records with eleven putouts and twelve total chances in right field in a single game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Following the season, he was traded along with Jeff Newman to the Boston Red Sox for Carney Lansford and Garry Hancock and minor leaguer Jerry King.
Boston Red Sox
In Boston, Armas became a center fielder, sharing the outfield duties with Jim Rice (LF) and Dwight Evans (RF). Although he was booed by fans for his low batting average (.218), he placed second in the AL with 36 home runs, and seventh with 107 RBI.
Armas peaked again in 1984, batting .268 and leading the AL with 43 HR, 123 RBI, 77 extra-base hits, and 339 total bases. He was named to The Sporting News and UPI postseason AL All-Star teams, was Boston's co-MVP, and placed seventh in the AL MVP balloting.
From 1980 to 1985, Armas hit more homers (187) than any other AL player. His next two seasons were ruined by recurring leg injuries and Boston's acquisition of Dave Henderson. Armas was released after batting just once in the 1986 World Series. In the following years, he became a valuable role player for the Angels, and he retired after the 1989 season.
Twice he finished in the top ten in AL Most Valuable Player award balloting (4th, 1981; 7th, 1984).
His younger brother, outfielder Marcos Armas, had a brief stint with the Athletics in the 1993 season, while his son Tony Jr. pitched from 1999 through 2008 for the Montreal Expos, Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets.
His playing career in Venezuela was a stellar one. He started playing with the Leones and later joined the Caribes de Oriente. His 97 career home runs were the Venezuelan professional baseball record, before another center fielder—Robert Pérez "the black wall" of Cardenales de Lara—set a new mark in 2007. In addition, Armas is fourth in the all-time list of RBI leaders, with 412.
- List of second generation Major League Baseball players
- List of top 300 Major League Baseball home run hitters
- List of Major League Baseball RBI champions
- List of Major League Baseball home run champions
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors), or Baseball Library
- The ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia – Gary Gillette, Peter Gammons, Pete Palmer. Publisher: Sterling Publishing, 2005. Format: Paperback, 1824pp. Language: English. ISBN 1-4027-4771-3