2012 Top 10 Stories: #1 – Miguel Cabrera’s Monster Season

How thick is the lens in a pair of Oakley sunglasses? I don’t own the instruments to determine the precise measurement but I think it’s safe to say thick enough to not only protect Miguel Cabrera‘s eye but sturdy enough to save his season, possibly his career, and almost assuredly make a Triple Crown season possible.

imagescabrerahead.jpgIn my lifetime, the Tigers haven’t had a player like Cabrera – or anyone close  for that matter. Even the best players I grew up watching Jason Thompson, Steve Kemp, Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Lance Parrish, Kirk Gibson and Cecil Fielder, rarely assembled a season in any one offensive category that compares to what Cabrera did in three of the biggest in 2012.

In case you’ve forgotten, here’s a rundown of the countless ways he demolished major-league pitching (courtesy of the Tigers postseason media notes). Cabrera:

  • Led the American League with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 RBI to become the first player to win the Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski did so in 1967. It marked the 14th time since 1900 a player captured the Triple Crown and Cabrera is the 12th player to accomplish the feat during that time. He’s the second Tigers player to do so, joining Ty Cobb (1909). He also joined Cobb by winning the A.L. batting title for the second straight season. The Peach did it in three straight seasons, from 1917-19.
  • Topped the American League with 377 total bases, 84 extra-base hits and a .606 slugging percentage, while he finished second with 109 runs scored and 205 hits, fourth with a .393 on-base percentage and seventh with 40 doubles.
  • Became the first Tigers player to connect for 40-or-more home runs in a season since Cecil Fielder hit 44 in 1991. It marks the 10th time in club history a Tigers player has hit 40-or-more home runs in a season and Cabrera is the sixth player in franchise history to do so. What’s more, he became the first player in Tigers history to belt 30-or-more home runs in five straight seasons.
  • Collected 139 RBI during the season, marking the fifth straight season he has posted 100-or-more RBI for the Tigers – he became only the third player in Tigers history to collect 100-or-more RBI in at least five straight seasons. Hall of Famer Harry Heilmann drove in 100-or-more runs in seven straight seasons (1923-29), and Charlie Gehringer did so in five straight seasons (1932-36).
  • Finished with 40 doubles and 44 home runs during the season, joining Hank Greenberg as the only two players in Tigers history to collect 40-or-more doubles and 40-or-more home runs during the same season. Greenberg accomplished the feat for Detroit in both 1937 and 1940.
  • Knocked 205 hits during the season, marking the first time he has finished with 200-or-more hits during a season – he became the 21st player in Tigers history to collect 200-or-more hits during a season.
  • Recorded 377 total bases during the season, marking the fifth straight season he has posted 300-or-more total bases for the Tigers – he became the first player in club history to post 300-or-more total bases in five consecutive seasons.

To the chagrin of many, this not only added up to a Triple Crown, it was the case for Cabrera winning the A.L. Most Valuable Player Award. His 2012 season might never be duplicated by a Tigers player – unless Cabrera himself matches it. For me, regardless of whether his award-winning season was universally acclaimed, it was thrilling to watch day in and day out and it is easily the top Tigers story in 2012.

And to think if not for a thin plastic lens we might not have witnessed it at all.

The Top 10 Stories of 2012

My Trip to Cooperstown: Part 2

It took all of the second day in Cooperstown to make it through the balance of the Museum – and it did not disappoint. There’s so much I could write about but I think the photos I posted on TigersHistory.com tell the tale more vividly. Yet, one dimension in particular stands out and deserves a few words: the detail of the Museum.

Here I am in the exhibit recognizing the Tigers clubs from the 1980s. Though he’s not represented in the Hall of Fame, I was delighted to see my man Jack Morris in the Museum. Same for Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker and the rest of the ’84 champs.

The Museum is rooted in the minutiae of baseball and the memories these otherwise mundane objects evoke. You’d expect to see artifacts from Hank Aaron’s chase for the Babe, Nolan Ryan’s seven no-hitters and Rickey Henderson’s stolen base exploits. But it’s the other stuff that held me rapt. For example:

  • The cornerstone from Ebbets Field
  • The wall panel from Tiger Stadium’s deepest reaches – the 440-foot mark
  • A deep-blue leather jacket from the Philadelphia Athletics
  • The rotating thingy that sat atop the centerfield scoreboard at old Comiskey Park
  • A scorebook from a Tigers/Indians game from the early 1970s
  • The shoes worn by Hall of Fame National League umpire Doug Harvey in his final game in 1992

And so much more. Of course, there was lot of Tigers miscellany, some curious of not outright dubious.

For example, in the Tigers locker, part of the Today’s Game exhibit, you’ll find the hat worn by Luis Pujols when he managed against the Royals’ Tony Pena in June 2002. It marked the first time managers from the Dominican Republic faced each other. The fact someone has that on their radar and thinks to make contact ahead of time with the Royals and Tigers is astounding and impressive.

Also in the Museum is the hat worn by Octavio Dotel on April 7 when he appeared in a game for his record-setting 13th different club.

In a way it’s cool that these items are in Cooperstown, but these two names representing the Tigers with Ty Cobb, Hank Greenberg, Charlie Gehringer, Hal Newhouser, Mickey Cochrane, George
Kell
and Al Kaline? Kind of a joke, I thought. But the more I considered it, the more I appreciated that the seemingly minor and mostly forgotten stories of people like Pujols and Dotel shape the narrative and history of baseball.

I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true.

As we departed for the grueling drive back to Detroit I wondered when I’d get back to Cooperstown. Chances are it won’t be soon.

Until that time, I’ll be keeping a more watchful eye on the historical aspects as they happen and cherish a trip of a lifetime with my Dad, brother and brothers in law.

The Daily Breakfast: July 27, 2011

A good Wednesday to you.

The Leadoff: Adam Dunn gave the White Sox 2-0 with a moon shot off Justin Verlander, so Verlander simply fanned him the next three times up. Detroit’s ace gutted out eight innings for his 14th win of the season, 5-4 over Chicago. The Tigers chipped away at the Sox, withstood another blast by Paul Konerko and watched Wilson Betemit drive in the go-ahead run in the eighth.

Around the Central: The Indians lost to the Angels 2-1, the Red Sox trounced the Royals, 13-6, and the Twins outlasted the Rangers in Arlington, 9-8.

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The Tigers are in first place, two games ahead of the Indians.

There are four days left until the trade deadline.

Today’s game: Birthday Boy* Max Scherzer (11-5, 4.35 ERA) vs. John Danks (3-8, 3.92 ERA)| 2:10 p.m. FSD/1270 & 97.1

*Scherzer’s 27 today.

On this date in 1938, Hank Greenberg, who had hit home runs his last two at bats the day before, homered his first two times up to tie the major-league record of four in a row. Greenberg had a record-setting 11 two-home run games during the season.

In 1958, the Tigers and Phillies swapped catchers with the Tigers picking up minor leaguer John Turk and cash for Jim Hegan.

Ten years later, Denny McLain shut out the Orioles, 9-0, for his 20th win of the season for the first-place Tigers. McLain is only the third pitcher in the 20th century to win his 20th this early: the others were Rube Marquard on July 19, 1912 and Lefty Grove on July 25, 1931. His record is 20-3.

[/callout]

Who Wants the Central?: According to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick, no one wants to win the division. But …

In a race this chaotic, the schedule can make a difference. While the Tigers are finished playing Boston and New York this season, the White Sox welcome the Red Sox and Yankees to Chicago for seven games starting Wednesday. As for the feisty Indians, they have 10 games against Boston, Texas and Detroit in early August. That’s their sink-or-swim stretch.

“It’s a weak division,” said a National League personnel man, “but I’ve liked the Tigers all year. Never underestimate a team with a good offense and an ace [starter]. You just don’t have long losing streaks.”

Discuss.

As Bad as It Gets: By now we all know that Paul Konerko wages war on the Tigers’ pitching staff every time he faces Detroit. After watching him launch another homer on Tuesday night I had to see what his career stats are agains the Tigers. Heading into play last night, Konerko had logged 196 games against Detroit and has put together this line: .291 average, 40 home runs, 133 RBI and a .872 OPS.

Papa Grande’s Streak Marches On: Jose Valverde converted his 27th consecutive save to begin the season on Tuesday at Chicago. His 27 straight saves are the second-longest save streak in Tigers history. Willie Hernandez converted 32 straight save opportunities April 6-Sept. 23, 1984.

Miscellany: On this date in 1940 Bugs Bunny made his debut in the Warner Bros. animated cartoon “A Wild Hare.”

Finally, happy trails to Kris Draper. I’ll miss watching #33 next season — and especially during the playoffs.

Tuesday Tananas: Greenberg, Anderson and Timo Time

With about a month to go before pitchers and catchers arrive in Lakeland, here are some various and sundry Tigers items to keep you warm as you wait:

  • On this date in 1947, the Tigers sold All-Star first baseman Hank Greenberg to the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1946, Greenberg led the American League with 44 home runs and 127 RBI, but slumped to 25 home runs and 74 RBI with the Pirates — though today that would be worth $12 million per year. Greenberg retired after the 1947 season.
  • A Matt Anderson comeback? Ian says it’s so.
  • Fresh off the Brad Penny signing — and before Armando Galarraga avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal of his own — we asked how Galarraga fits into the Tigers’ pitching staff. Here’s what the voters said:

    • Spot starter and long reliever in the bullpen (60%, 272 Votes)
    • Still in the Tigers’ rotation. (25%, 115 Votes)
    • Some other team. (15%, 68 Votes)

    UPDATE: Moments after I posted this, I saw that the Tigers designated Galarraga for assignment. Discuss.

  • Speaking of starting pitchers, am I the only one surprised that Jeremy Bonderman has generated so little interest this offseason? I thought he’d at least get a minor-league deal with someone — maybe his hometown Mariners. So far, though, no bites. In his Sunday notes column, the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo identifies a couple possible suitors for Bondo.
  • How did I miss the news that Timo Perez is back in the Tigers organization? As the Toledo Blade’s terrific Mud Hens blog points out, the Tigers didn’t invite Perez to spring training which nixes his chances of playing time in Detroit.
  • Depending on how the Tigers’ Opening Day roster shapes up, Timo Time could end up in Toledo or perhaps Double-A Erie. At 37, why would he want to ride the buses in minor leagues? To paraphrase Joe Riggins, manager of the fictional Durham Bulls: “Because he can keep comin’ to the ballpark and keep gettin’ paid to do it.”

Speaking of Crash Davis, today’s the birthday of Kevin Costner. He’s 56.

Tigers Today: September 4, 2010

Doyle.jpgTigers’ Record:

67-68, 3rd Place; 11.5 GB

Today’s Game

Tigers @ Royals | 7:05 p.m. ET – Kauffman Stadium | On the air: FSD/AM 1270 and 97.1 FM

Pitching Matchup

Rick Porcello (7-11, 5.20 ERA) vs. Bruce Chen (9-7, 4.76 ERA)

Yesterday’s Results

Tigers 9 – Royals 5 (11 innings)

Continue reading “Tigers Today: September 4, 2010”

Tuesday Tananas: No-Hitter Leftovers

No!.jpgWhen you look at the dozen no-hitters thrown against the Tigers since 1902, you see three Hall of Famers, one future Hall of Famer and you see, ahem, Matt Garza.

On Aug. 5, 1940, the Browns’ John Whitehead no-hit the Tigers over six innings at Sportsman’s Park. It was the second game of a doubleheader and most likely, the game was called due to darkness (though the box score doesn’t indicate this). The Browns won 4-0.

What’s interesting about this game is the OPS numbers put up by four Tigers players: Hank Greenberg (1.027), Rudy York (.999), Barney McCoskey (.931) and Pinky Higgins (.823).

Discuss.

Tigers Today: June 30, 2010

BallBatGrass.jpgTigers’ Record:

41-35, 2nd place; 1/2-game behind Minnesota

Today’s Game

Tigers @ Twins | 1:10 p.m. ET – Target Field | On the air: FSD/AM 1270 and 97.1 FM

Pitching Matchup

Andy Oliver (0-1, 3.00 ERA) vs. Kevin Slowey (7-5, 4.79 ERA)

Yesterday’s Results

Twins 11 – Tigers 4

Continue reading “Tigers Today: June 30, 2010”