Over the course of the month, LWOSports will be breaking down the top five MLB players in franchise history for all 30 teams. This article will rank the top five Detroit Tigers players in franchise history least to best by who had the biggest impact for the team. You can check out the other series articles here.
Certainly, the Detroit Tigers have one of the richest histories out of any team in Major League Baseball. Detroit has had a long list of great players who have put on the Tigers uniform as well as four World Series titles. However, they have not won a World Series since 1984. Recently, they have made two World Series appearances in which they lost, in 2006 and again in 2012. There have been plenty of lows for this franchise as well, including losing 119 games in 2003. Nonetheless, this is a storied franchise with plenty of players worth celebrating. Also, it is important to point out that there are eight players who could have legitimately made this incredible list. Here are the top five Detroit Tigers players in franchise history!
Top Five Detroit Tigers Players
5) Justin Verlander
Easily the best pitcher in Detroit Tigers history is Justin Verlander. With that said, Verlander comes in at number five on the top five Detroit Tigers players in franchise history. He put together an incredible 13 years total in a Tigers uniform. The entirety of his time there was not stellar, as he faced a couple of tough seasons, including 2008 when he lost 17 games. However, Verlander had several great seasons including 2011. In fact, he won both the Cy Young Award and MVP that season after winning an incredible 24 games with a 2.40 earned run average. Verlander led the league in strikeouts four times while in Detroit as well as ERA once, WHIP twice and complete games once.
Accolades in Detroit: 2011 MVP, 2011 Cy Young Award, 2006 Rookie of the Year, six-time All-Star, one ERA title, one Triple Crown
Stats with Detroit: 183-114 record, 3.49 earned run average, 1.191 WHIP, 2,373 strikeouts, 766 walks, 23 complete games, 7 shutouts
Franchise ranks: 2nd in WAR for pitchers, t-28th in earned run average, 7th in wins, 6th in WHIP, 2nd in strikeouts per nine innings, 11th in games pitched, 2nd in strikeouts, 3rd in strikeout/walk ratio, 1st in win probability added
4) Charlie Gehringer
Hall of Fame second baseman Charlie Gehringer is fourth on the top five Detroit Tigers players in franchise history. Gehringer played his entire 19-year career with the Tigers. Certainly, he is one of the most accomplished all-around players in MLB history. In fact, he hit over .300 in 13 of his 16 full seasons. In 1929, Gehringer led MLB in runs scored, hits, doubles as well as triples plus stolen bases. Somehow he did not receive any MVP votes that season. During his MVP season of 1937, Gehringer hit an amazing .371. Additionally, Gehringer was a great defensive second baseman. Perhaps his most amazing statistic is the fact that he walked 1,186 times, yet only struck out 372 times.
Accolades in Detroit: Hall of Fame, 1937 MVP, six-time All-Star, 1935 World Series champ, 1937 batting title
Stats with Detroit: .320 batting average, .404 on-base percentage, .480 slugging percentage, .884 OPS, 1,775 runs scored, 2,839 hits, 574 doubles, 146 triples, 184 home runs, 1,427 runs batted in, 181 stolen bases, 1,186 walks, 372 strikeouts
Franchise ranks: 3rd in WAR, 3rd in offensive WAR, 7th in defensive WAR, 7th in batting average, 7th in on-base percentage, t-17th in slugging percentage, 7th in OPS, 4th most games played, 2nd in runs scored, 3rd in hits, 3rd in total bases, 2nd in doubles, 3rd in triples, 15th in home runs, 4th in runs batted in, 3rd in walks, 9th in stolen bases, 3rd in runs created, 5th in power-speed number, 5th in win probability added
3) Miguel Cabrera
Miguel Cabrera comes in at number three on the top five Detroit Tigers players in franchise history. Cabrera was already a star in Florida but has elevated his career over the past 11 seasons in Detroit. Unfortunately, injuries have slowed him down the last couple of seasons. However, Cabrera has established himself as one of the best hitters of all-time in baseball history. In fact, he has four batting titles to his name. Additionally, he has led the league in on-base percentage four times, slugging percentage twice, OPS twice, home runs twice and runs batted in twice. He also has led the league in double twice as well. During his second MVP season of 2013, Cabrera hit a league-leading .348. Let the numbers speak for themselves.
Accolades in Detroit: Two-time MVP, seven-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger, four batting titles, 2012 Triple Crown
Stats with Detroit: .318 batting average, .398 on-base percentage, .556 slugging percentage, .954 OPS, 939 runs scored, 1,834 hits, 373 doubles, 7 triples, 327 home runs, 1,112 runs batted in, 765 walks, 1,061 strikeouts
Franchise ranks: 10th in WAR, 8th in offensive WAR, 9th in batting average, 9th in on-base percentage, 2nd in slugging percentage, 2nd in OPS, 13th most games played, 11th in runs scored, 9th in hits, 9th in total bases, 8th in doubles, 3rd in home runs, 7th in runs batted in, 10th in walks, 9th in runs created, 2nd in win probability added
2) Al Kaline
After spending 22 seasons with the Tigers, Al Kaline comes in at number two on the top five Detroit Tigers players in franchise history. Kaline was one of the best all-around players in baseball for many years. In fact, he did everything from winning a batting title to winning multiple Gold Gloves. Certainly, Kaline was a model of consistency for the majority of his career. In 1955, he led the league in hits with 200 as well as batting average and total bases. Additionally, in 1959, Kaline led the majors in slugging percentage (.530) and OPS (.940). He led the majors in doubles in 1961 with 41, which was a career high. Kaline’s defense and consistency are what helped separate him from those below him on this list.
Accolades in Detroit: Hall of Fame, 18-time All-Star, 10 Gold Glove Awards, 1955 batting title, 1968 World Series champ
Stats with Detroit: .297 batting average, .376 on-base percentage, .480 slugging percentage, .855 OPS, 1,622 runs scored, 3,007 hits, 498 doubles, 75 triples, 399 home runs. 1,582 runs batted in, 137 stolen bases, 1,277 walks, 1,020 strikeouts
Franchise ranks: 2nd in WAR, 2nd in offensive WAR, 41st in defensive WAR, t-24th in batting average, t-22nd in on-base percentage, t-17th in slugging percentage, 15th in OPS, 1st most games played, 3rd in runs scored, 2nd in hits, 2nd in total bases, 3rd in doubles, 6th in triples, 1st in home runs, 2nd in runs batted in, 1st in walks, 12th in stolen bases, 2nd in runs created, 2nd in power-speed number, 1st in win probability added
1) Ty Cobb
On the field, Ty Cobb was nothing short of absolutely amazing. Cobb comes in at number one on the top five Detroit Tigers players in franchise history. Cobb has the best career batting average of all time (.366) in baseball history, which is incredible. He won a whopping 12 batting titles between 1907 and 1919. Additionally, he led the league in multiple categories numerous times throughout his career. During Cobb’s MVP season of 1911, he hit an amazing .420 with 248 hits, 147 runs scored, 47 doubles along with 24 triples. Also, he registered 127 runs batted in and 83 steals. All of that led the majors. Not only that, but he also ended with a .621 slugging percentage with an OPS of 1.088! With all of that being said, let the accolades and career numbers speak for themselves at this point. All you can say is, wow.
Accolades in Detroit: Hall of Fame, 1911 MVP, 12 batting titles, 1909 Triple Crown
Stats with Detroit: .366 batting average (best in MLB history), .433 on-base percentage, .512 slugging percentage, .945 OPS, 2,244 runs scored, 4,189 hits, 724 doubles, 295 triples, 117 home runs, 1,944 runs batted in, 897 stolen bases, 1,249 walks, 680 strikeouts
Franchise ranks: 1st in WAR, 1st in offensive WAR, 1st in batting average, 1st in on-base percentage, 5th in slugging percentage, 3rd in OPS, 2nd most games played, 1st in runs scored, 1st in hits, 1st in total bases, 1st in doubles, 1st in triples, 28th in home runs, 1st in runs batted in, 4th in walks, 1st in stolen bases, 1st in runs scored, 3rd in power-speed number, t-39th in win probability added
Undoubtedly, this was one of the toughest top fives to put together. Let us know what you think and follow along as we continue to release every team.
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