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 2022 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”.
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.
“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!
As of this writing, Miguel Cabrera is still a member of the Detroit Tigers and was the top offensive star for the organization in his first nine seasons with the team.
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.  
Justin Verlander played a pair of Games in 2005, and he shot out of the gate as a rookie in 2006, winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award with a 17-9 record.  Some ROYs falter, but this would not be the case for JV. 
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.
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 it took well over three decades before a player from the 1984 World Series Championship team to make the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Even more incredible is that Lou Whitaker never made it past the first ballot.
The deadball era was a long time 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.
A two-time World Series Champion with the Tigers (the only team he ever played for), 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.   Overall, Bridges would have a record of 194-138 with 1,674 Strikeouts.
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.Cash was also a huge part of Detroit's 1968 World Series Championship, and he batted .385 in that playoff.  Over his career, he…
Sometimes it felt as if Mickey Lolich never got his due, no matter what he accomplished.  
While Dizzy Trout easily had his best seasons in the war depleted 1940’s, he was still an effective hurler after World War II.  
For a ten season stretch (1964-73), Bill Freehan was one of the top Catchers in the American League.  In each of those years, he would be named an All-Star, and he would add an 11th one in 1975.A member of the Tigers for his entire career, the apex of his career was in 1968, which was the season he staffed a roster of pitchers who took the Tigers to a World Series win.  Freehan himself was the runner-up to the MVP Award that year, and he was third the year before.  A five-time Gold Glove winner, Freehan would smack an…
Possibly one of the most underrated baseball players of the 1910s, 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 three RBI titles he was also a two-time league leader in Doubles and in 1919, he led the AL in Hits.  He was also an above-average fielder, who as a Tiger had a Slash Line of .311/.370/.444 with 1,859 Hits.
The Pitcher with the most wins in the 1980s, 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 did not make the Baseball Hall of Fame through the regular method, he did eventually enter via the Veterans Committee in 2018.  One of the best clutch pitchers ever, Morris would later win three other World Series rings (one with Minnesota and two with Toronto).  With the Tigers, Morris pitched a no-hitter, went 198-150, and…
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.  Overall, as a Tiger, Bunning had a record of 118-87 with 1,406 Strikeouts.  He would be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996, albeit wearing a Phillies cap.