All-time Tigers All-Stars

Cruising through Baseball-Reference’s All-Star section I was able to find a list of every Tigers player named to the American League squad.

Here are a few of the more interesting (i.e., surprising or forgotten) players on the list:

Brad Ausmus, 1999. He batted .275 that year.

Tony Clark, 2001. A solid year for Tony in ’01.

Robert Fick, 2002. Good lord, those were some dark days.

Prince Fielder, 2012, ’13. Seems about right.

Edwin Jackson, 2009. Other than his loss to the White Sox in Game 161, I have almost no recollection of Jackson’s time in Detroit.

Todd Jones, 2000. I guess.

Ron LeFlore, 1976. I’m surprised to see that LeFlore was named to only one All-Star team.

Matt Nokes, 1987. I’d forgotten Nokes was an All-Star but he certainly earned it with a great first half. He almost made us forget Lance Parrish. Almost.

Don Wert, 1968. This one I don’t get, for two reasons: The first is that Wert finished the season batting .200, so I don’t know what he was producing in July. The second is I don’t have any context for All-Star roster construction back then. I was born within three weeks of the game.

Discuss.

June 21, 1970: Tigers’ #7 goes 7 for 7

Gutierrez Cesar 1In the nightcap of a doubleheader in Cleveland, the Tigers’ Cesar Gutierrez goes 7 for 7 with six singles and a double to tie a record set in 1892, in a 12-inning, 9-8 win.

Mickey Stanley‘s home run wins it for the Tigers. Gutierrez came into the game hitting .218, and was hitless in his previous 18 at bats. He will collect just seven hits in all of 1971, and 128 hits for his career.

Here’s the box score.

Top-5 Magglio Memories

I’ll admit it: I wasn’t the biggest Magglio Ordonez fan in 2006. After an injury-riddled debut season with the Tigers in 2005, I was ready to see the Ordonez that seemed to crush Detroit at every opportunity while with the White Sox.

But he just didn’t seem to deliver as often as I expected him to, and I don’t remember if it was based on gut feeling or cold-hard stats.

Whatever. When he stepped to the plate in the ninth inning of the 2006 ALCS, I didn’t expect him to come through. And from that point on I shut my mouth about Magglio Ordonez.

Here’s my Magglio Top Five list:

  1. 2006 ALCS Homer. Of course.

     

  2. 2007 Batting Title. After the Tigers faded in the standings Magglio’s march to a league-leading .363 average was all we had – and fun to watch.

     

  3. 2011 ALDS Performance. With good reason, people scoff at the term “professional hitter”, but how else can you describe what Magglio did against the Yankees? He hit .455 (5 for 11) and a 1.045 OPS.

     

  4. 2005 Return Homer off Randy Johnson. On July 1 Maggs returned from an extended stay on the DL thanks to a sports hernia – and we worried about his creaky knee – and went yard to deep left center off Johnson. The season was a loss at that point; the Tigers were 37-39 and 15 games behind the White Sox. But oh the long-term possibilities with Ordonez in the Tigers lineup. He finished that year at .302 with five homers.

     

  5. February 7, 2005. The day the Tigers signed him was another step toward making baseball relevant again in Detroit.
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That’s my list. What’s yours?

For a broader look at Magglio’s career, checkout this excellent piece by Chris Jaffe in The Hardball Times.

Tigers Wild Ride in ALCS Continues

And this evening I gleefully eat crow.

Justin Verlander or no, I didn’t expect the Tigers to win Game 5. After Wednesday night’s deflating extra-inning loss, my typically optimistic self thought the Tigers had run out of gas and that the Rangers were just too hot to lose.

Texas was making the most of their opportunities — lord knows they (and the Tigers with much less success) have had plenty this series — and how long could Detroit’s worn out pitching staff keep Michael Young and Adrian Beltre, the only Rangers not scorching the ball these days, in check? Not long, at least in the case of the former.

When Young doubled in the first inning, that queasy feeling of doom washed over me. Then I got angry: No way Verlander wilts in this situation. He didn’t.

Despite what some wrote, Verlander was terrific. Untouchable? No. But he had enough stuff, grit and determination to get the outs he needed at just the right time.

These same observers are saying the Tigers were lucky to win this game. Well, yeah — and it’s about time a bounce went Detroit’s way. And an ice-cold hitter hit a home run. And a starter went deep into the game. And someone other than Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde got the final outs. And a packed Comerica Park trembled one more time.

If the Tigers go on to win this series, imagine how we’ll remember a beaten down Alex Avila at last delivering a key hit with an opposite field home run, or how iconic Miguel Cabrera‘s sixth-inning double off the third-base bag will become in Detroit sports lore. Or Victor Martinez‘s triple when the man can hardly walk. Or Delmon Young‘s two rockets to left-center that put him in elite company in the Tigers’ postseason record book.

With Max Scherzer going in Game 6 — the first time the Tigers have been in a postseason Game 6 since 1968 — you have to feel good, don’t you? My guess is that he feels he has some unfinished business after Game 2 and will be on a mission Saturday night.

For now though, I’m going to savor this win and the crow I was forced to eat after not so much doubting the Tigers’ grit, but recognizing the offensive buzz saw that’s the Texas Rangers right now.

And you know what? Jim Leyland seems to be having the time of his life in this series. Perhaps it’s time I stop fretting every pitch and just enjoy the ride too.

Who’s with me?

2009 Player Profile: Magglio Ordoñez

Magglio Ordoñez #30

  • Height: 6′ 0″ | Weight: 215
  • 2008 Stats: .317 – 21 HR – 103 RBI

Few hitters can weather a 50-point drop in batting average and still be within shouting distance of a batting crown. But that’s how 2008 shaped up for Tigers rightfielder Magglio Ordoñez. Ordonez Magglio

The 2007 A.L. batting champ served up an encore performance in 2008: .317, fifth in the league, 22 home runs and 103 RBI. Certainly, having Miguel Cabrera batting ahead of him helped Ordoñez see more strikes in 2008, but since joining Detroit in 2005 all he’s done is hit.

Last season, Ordoñez fluctuated from month to month — .296 in April, .350 in May; .266 in June, .386 in July — but finished the season strong, batting .330 in the second half and mounting a credible defense of his batting title.

Ordoñez is a top-tier hitter thanks to a stroke that can deftly handle pitches across the strike zone, but the closer the pitch is to the inner-half of the plate the better. Like most power hitters, he can crush a fastball but he takes more delight in change-ups from righties — a .407 average when he hits one — and curves from southpaws, an astounding .600 clip.

At 35, Ordoñez shows no sign of slowing and looks at home as the Tigers’ cleanup hitter. And that should worry A.L. pitchers, again, in 2009.

Randy Smith’s Losing Bet

Nine years ago today the Tigers swung a blockbuster trade for the ages — one Tigers fans are trying to forget.
On Nov. 2, 1999, the Rangers sent outfielder Juan Gonzalez, pitcher Danny Patterson and catcher Gregg Zaun to the Tigers for pitchers Justin Thompson, Alan Webb and Francisco Cordero, outfielder Gabe Kapler, catcher Bill Haselman, and infielder Frank Catalanotto.

Sound like a ripoff? That’s not the half of it.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane and see how that worked out for both teams since the day of the trade:

Detroit

Gonzalez

  • 2000 (Detroit): 115 G, .289, 22 HR, 67 RBI
  • 2001-05 (CLE, TEX, KC): .302, 72 HR, 262 RBI

Zaun

He never played in Detroit. On March 7, 2000, the Tigers sent him to the Royals as part of a conditional deal. Think the Tigers could’ve used him behind the plate during those pre-Pudge seasons? Me too.

  • 2000-2008 (KC, HOU, COL, TOR): .254, 62 HR, 336 RBI

Patterson

  • 2000-04 (Detroit): 10-11, 6.17 ERA*, 5 saves (*Bloated by a 15.00 ERA in just three innings pitched in 2002. Without it, his Detroit ERA would be 3.97.)

Texas

Thompson

Poor J.T. He never could rebound from shoulder injuries that began to plague him in Detroit. He didn’t pitch in Texas until 2005 when he appeared in two games, surrendered four earned runs and two homers. He signed with the Brewers after that season and retired on June 20, 2006.

  • Career line: Five seasons, 36-43, 4.02 ERA, 428 K

Webb

According to Baseball-Reference.com, Webb never appeared in the majors.

Cordero

  • 2000-08 (TEX, MIL, CIN): 31-31, 211 saves, 4.00 ERA

Kapler

  • 2000-06, ’08 (TEX, COL, BOS, MIL) .279, 54 HR, 291 RBI

Haselman

By the time of this trade, Haselman was nearing the end of his 13-year career. He broke in with the Rangers in 1990, played three seasons (’92-’94) with the Mariners, three with Boston, a return engagement with the Rangers, one year in Detroit, back to Texas, and then his final season in 2003 with the Red Sox.

  • 2000-03 (TEX, BOS): .265, 12 HR, 69 RBI

Catalanatto

  • 2000-08 (TEX, TOR): .295, 66 HR, 384 RBI

From the moment I saw this trade announced on ESPN’s crawl I knew it was not going to work out well. How could it?

First, the Tigers were giving up far too much youth for essentially one player: Gonzalez who, on his best day, was a moody enigma. Second, as Ian reminded me, then-GM Randy Smith was allegedly shaping the Comerica Park Tigers to be a pitching-defense-and-speed club. Acquiring a plodding slugger doesn’t fit into that scheme — particularly when CoPa was dubbed Comerica National Park for its expansive dimensions. And third, everything in the universe had to align with unrealistic precision for Gonzalez to even half-consider signing with the Tigers after the 2000 season.

It’s painful to see how the kids Detroit traded away blossomed in the Texas heat. Personally, the one player that hurt the most was Catalanatto. If ever a hitter were designed for Comerica Park, it was Cat.

Kapler could’ve been a good role player throughout this decade, Cordero could’ve been they type of closer the Tigers now seek via trade or free agency.

Coulda, shoulda, woulda. Perhaps those are the three words that best sum up this trade.

What do you think?