Top 50 Detroit Tigers

Founded in 1901, the Detroit Tigers have been staples in the American League since its inception.

The Tigers have had their ups and downs for sure, but the team has been in the World Series eleven times, and won the Fall Classic four times in 1935, 1945, 1968 and 1984.  

With over a century of players to choose from, the Top 50 Detroit Tigers is loaded with Hall of Famers, should have beens and future Cooperstown performers.

Note: Baseball lists are based on:

  1. Sabremetric tallies while with that team, mostly WAR.
  1. Traditional metrics and how they finished in their respective league overall.
  1. Playoff accomplishment.
  1. Their overall impact on the team and other intangibles not reflected in a stat sheet.
This list is updated to the end of the 2016 season
It is a good thing this wasn’t based on character was it.Regardless of how unlikable Ty Cobb was (in every possible metric), Ty Cobb was easily one of the greatest hitters who ever lived.  “The Georgia Peach” won 11 Batting Titles and until Pete Rose eclipsed his record had the most Hits all-time in Major League Baseball, though Cobb would play significantly less games than Rose.
While Al Kaline was not named the greatest Detroit Tiger of all-time, Al Kaline was the player who would be referred to as “Mr. Tiger”.
“The Mechanical Man”, Charlie Gehringer was as good a baseball player as he was quiet, and considering he was known for not talking much, you can imagine that he was a pretty good baseball player!
The deadball era was a longtime ago but there are still some records that exist to this day, two of which are the most Triples of all-time and the most inside the park Home Runs in a season.  Those are held by “Wahoo” Sam Crawford, who played most of his career with Detroit.
As of this writing, Miguel Cabrera is still a member of the Detroit Tigers and the top offensive star for the organization over the past nine seasons.


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Harry Heilmann benefited from Ty Cobb’s guidance (you see, someone did!) and was one of the smoothest hitters of the 1920’s.  Heilmann would win the Batting Title four times (all with an average over .390) and the lowest he hit that decade was .328.  While he was not exactly part of the power boom of the 20’s, he still finished in the top five in Slugging six times and exceeded the 1.000 plateau in OPS five times.  
Hal Newhouser played 15 of his 17 Hall of Fame seasons in Detroit where the highlight was winning the elusive Pitcher’s Triple Crown in 1945.  To say that this was a magical season might be an understatement as he won the MVP (becoming the first Pitcher to duplicate that as he won it the year before) and pitched his team into a World Series Championship in 1945.
Losing out on almost four years of Baseball service due to World War II, Hank Greenberg still managed to be a two time American League MVP and a four time Home Run Champion.  Greenberg was an incredible slugger, posting eight seasons where he eclipsed .600 in Slugging and his incredible Slash Line of .319/.414/.616 is nothing short of incredible.  Greenberg is also a two time World Series Champion.
Considered one of the best Pitchers in Baseball for a four year span (2009 to 2012), Justin Verlander was the Cy Young Award Winner in 2011 and runner up for that prestigious trophy the year after and again in 2016.  Verlander, who also won the 2011 American League MVP award, has as of this writing only played for Detroit and displayed a wide variety of pitches, which he has been known to slightly decrease or increase velocity at will.  
The longtime Shortstop for the Detroit Tigers, Alan Trammell spent almost as much time on the Hall of Fame ballot as he did with the Tigers.  The career Detroit Tiger was the MVP of the 1984 World Series; a team that had one of the best seasons in modern history.  
Amazingly no player from the 1984 World Series Championship Team has made the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Even more incredible is that Lou Whitaker never made it past the first ballot.
A two time World Series Champion with the Tigers, Tommy Bridges was a major force in that first championship winning two games in the Fall Classic.  The curveball specialist led the AL in Strikeouts twice and won twenty games three years in a row (1934, 1935 & 1936).  Bridges was also a six time All Star.
Four Time All Star, Norm Cash had a monster season where he won the Batting Title, On Base Percentage Title the OPS Title and slugged 41 Home Runs.  The sad thing for Cash is that he did this in 1961 where the baseball world was affixed with Roger Maris’ chase for the single season home run record.  While that was Cash’s best season, he still had a lot of good ones and would blast 373 Home Runs as a Tiger.
Sometimes it felt as if Mickey Lolich never got his due, no matter what he accomplished.  
Possibly one of the most underrated baseball players of the 1910’s, three time RBI title winner, Bobby Veach shared the outfield with Ty Cobb, Harry Heilmann and later Sam Crawford; all three Hall of Famers.  Veach was a good player in his own right, as along with his RBI titles he was also a two time league leader in Doubles and was an above average fielder.
For a ten season stretch, Bill Freehan was one of the top Catchers in the American League.  The apex of his career was 1968, which was the season he staffed a roster of pitchers who took the Tigers to a World Series win, and Freehan himself was the runner-up to the MVP Award.  Freehan never left the Detroit Tigers, smacking an even 200 Home Runs and winning five consecutive Gold Gloves.
The Pitcher with the most wins in the 1980’s, Jack Morris was the Tigers’ ace for a full decade.  Morris and his split fingered fastball would hurl the Tigers to the 1984 World Series and would go the All Star Game four times as a Tiger.  While Morris has yet to make the Baseball Hall of Fame (considered by many to be one of the biggest snubs) he is a four time World Series Champion (winning three outside of Detroit) and was the man who many wanted pitching for his team for years.
Hall of Fame Pitcher Jim Bunning spent less time with the Philadelphia Phillies than he did with Detroit, but it was with the former where he would be more recognized.  Still it was with the Tigers where he accomplished more accumulatively and went to five All Star Games.  As a Tiger, Bunning was a two time league leader in Strikeouts and would lead the AL once in Wins and FIP.
While George Mullin was not exactly known for his control (he led the AL in Walks four times) he was a workhorse of a power pitcher, exceeding 20 wins in a season six times, including the 1909 season where he led the American League in that category.  Mullin still holds the franchise record for Innings Pitched both all-time and in a single season.