Category Archives: Fake Tigers Jerseys

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“If we were looking for a model for a statue of a slugger, we would choose Sam Crawford.” Baseball Magazine, 1916

“Wahoo Sam” Crawford began his baseball career playing semi-pro ball around his birthplace of Wahoo, Nebraska. He rose quickly through the minors, debuting at age 19 with the Cincinnati Reds in September, 1899, batting .307 in 31 games. After moderate success in 1900, he emerged the next season, hitting .330 and leading the league with 16 home runs. The consistent Crawford would hit .333 the following year, and .335 in 1903, when he jumped to the Detroit Tigers. 1903 also marked his second consecutive year leading his league in triples, with 25; the triple was a specialty of Crawford’s, who finished his career with 309 three-baggers legged out in the cavernous ballparks of the dead ball era.

With outfield contributions from Crawford and the young Ty Cobb, the Tigers broke out in 1907 to the first of three consecutive pennants. Crawford led the league in runs in 1907, while hitting .323. The next year he led in Home runs, with 7, batting .311. In the third straight pennant year, 1909, he hit .314, leading the league in doubles, with 35. The Tigers, alas, lost all three World Series, the first two to the Cubs and the 1909 series to Honus Wagner and the Pirates. Though Crawford hit three doubles and a homer in the 1909 series, his career World Series batting average was just .243.

Though there would be no more World Series for the Tigers with Crawford, he certainly continued to pace the club and the league. In 1910, he led the league in triples and runs batted in—the first of three times he would lead the league in that vital category. In 1911, he batted .378, the highest mark of his career. He led the league in triples three consecutive years, beginning in 1913, and in runs batted in in 1914 and 1915.

1917 was the final big league season for Crawford, who led the league in triples 6 times, home runs twice, runs batted in three times, total bases twice, and once each in runs and doubles. For his career, he batted .309 over 19 seasons, while also hitting the identical number—309—in triples. He stole 367 bases, drove in 1,525 runs, scored 1,391 times, hit 458 doubles, and rang up 2,961 hits. He remains the career leader in triples, hitting 14 more than Cobb, a teammate with whom he did not always get along. Never the less, Cobb’s advocacy of Crawford is often cited as a contributing factor in his 1957 election to the Hall of Fame.

Crawford knew what he was doing at the plate: “My idea of batting is a thing that should be done unconsciously…If you get to studying it too much…you will miss it altogether.”

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Doug Mientkiewicz was a hometown hero a year ago, a Toledo-born Major Leaguer who returned to manage the Mud Hens to their first division title and playoff berth in over a decade. A year later, he is out as Mud Hens manager, having been dismissed from his post.

Though the Tigers have not formally announced their Minor League managerial posts, Tigers vice president of player development Dave Littlefield confirmed that Mientkiewicz will not be back, as first reported by the Detroit Free Press. Though Mientkiewicz had a year left on his contract, he was not reassigned to another position in the organization.

“We simply decided to go in a different direction,” Littlefield said Thursday.

It’s an eyebrow-raising move as the Tigers prepare for their crop of highly touted pitching prospects to arrive in Toledo next year. Top prospects Casey Mize and Matt Manning are expected to make the jump to Triple-A on their way to eventual spots in Detroit’s rotation, as will third-base prospect Isaac Paredes. They’ll have different leadership in the dugout.

Mientkiewicz, who spent 12 years as a Major League player, joined the Tigers organization on the heels of his old manager, Ron Gardenhire, taking over as manager of Detroit. The move gave Gardenhire a trusted voice on potential callups from Triple-A while bringing in a proven winner in Mientkiewicz, who enjoyed success managing in the Twins farm system. Adding to the appeal was that Mientkiewicz was born in Toledo and lived in the area until his family moved to Florida while he was in grade school.

The pairing drew quick success; Mientkewicz’s Mud Hens won an International League’s Western Division title with a 73-66 record in 2018, earning Toledo’s first playoff berth since 2007. Among the success stories was top hitting prospect Christin Stewart, who hit 23 home runs with 77 RBIs that year, third-base prospect Dawel Lugo, Tigers Minor League Pitcher of the Year Matt Hall and infielder Ronny Rodriguez, who batted .338 with a .923 OPS in between stints with Detroit.

Despite Stewart’s graduation to Detroit, the Mud Hens entered this past season with a prospect-laden roster that included Lugo, prized center-field prospect Daz Cameron, former first-round pick Beau Burrows and starting prospect Kyle Funkhouser. However, though the Hens scored more runs than they allowed, they essentially reversed their record, finishing 66-74 and tying for second in their division.

Minor League managers and coaches usually aren’t judged on wins and losses as much as on player development, notably with prospects. That might have worked against Mientkiewicz. Burrows and Funkhouser, whom Tigers general manager Al Avila publicly touted at midseason as candidates to join Detroit’s rotation, struggled with injuries and inconsistencies. Funkhouser finished with an 8.53 ERA in 18 starts, while an oblique injury ended Burrows’ season early with a 5.51 ERA in 15 starts.

Cameron, whose strong Spring Training put him in line for a potential midseason promotion, batted .214 with 13 home runs and 152 strikeouts in 120 games. Top catching prospect Jake Rogers, who spent the middle third of the season with Toledo, batted .223 with a .779 OPS after a hot start upon being promoted from Double-A Erie. The most notable prospect emergence came from shortstop Willi Castro, who batted .301 with 11 homers, 62 RBIs and an .833 OPS as a Mud Hen, and Lugo, who improved his walk rate while batting .333 with an .859 OPS between calls up to Detroit.

Mientkiewicz has a reputation of being tough but loyal with his players, including prospects. His telling players they’ve been called up to the Majors for the first time can be memorable for the players involved. But he is also honest with players about the difficulty of the big leagues and doesn’t mince words when asked about prospects’ readiness.

“The difference between a Major Leaguer and a Minor Leaguer is like the difference between a T-Rex and a llama,” Mientkiewicz said in June amidst his pitchers’ struggles. “It’s a whole different animal. The attention to detail for most guys who go up is not where it should be. They realize that the mental focus has to be [better].

“There’s a difference between a Major Leaguer, and being a Major Leaguer that you see in October. And that’s what we’re trying to build.”

Whoever succeeds Mientkiewicz will be the Mud Hens’ fifth manager in six years. That successor will not come from within the organization; Littlefield said the Tigers will seek an outside candidate. Erie manager Mike Rabelo was speculated as a potential candidate for promotion, having managed Manning and Paredes at three levels so far, but he will return as SeaWolves manager.

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ST. PETERSBURG — Ji-Man Choi raised his arms into the air as he saw his game-winning hit clear the infield.

There was good reason to celebrate after the Tampa Bay Rays kept themselves in the AL’s second wild-card spot and avoided a series loss to the woeful Detroit Tigers.

Choi’s two-run single in the bottom of the ninth completed a rally from a late three-run deficit and gave the Rays a 5-4 victory on Sunday.

“Pretty exciting moment,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “His teammates might have been halfway out there before the second run even came across.”

The Rays trailed 4-1 after seven before coming back with two in the eighth and then the winning hit in the ninth.

Travis d’Arnaud reached to open the ninth against Joe Jimenez (3-7) on shortstop Gordon Beckham’s throwing error and went to second when Willy Adames walked.

The Rays loaded the bases on Mike Brosseau’s one-out infield single before Choi singled to center.

“We kept on going and never gave up,” Choi said through a translator. “We were able to bring back the win.”

Tampa Bay had been hitless in 17 at-bats with the bases loaded since July 26.

Tommy Pham hit a two-run homer in the eighth off Buck Farmer that pulled the Rays within 4-3.

“Good teams find a way to win, and that’s exactly what we did,” Pham said.

Tampa Bay pitchers set a three-game series team record by recording 49 strikeouts, including 12 on Sunday.

Houston holds the major league record of 52, coming against Baltimore May 24-26, 2016.

The Rays lost 2-0 Friday night before winning 1-0 in 13 innings on Brosseau’s single Saturday.

“We competed with a team that’s in a playoff race,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “It was in our hands, in our grip, we just lost it.”

Matthew Boyd struck out nine over seven strong innings and Harold Castro homered and had three RBIs for the Tigers, who have a major league-worst 37-84 record.

Boyd allowed one run, two hits and two walks. The lefty has 201 strikeouts in 153 innings.

“It was a big performance by him,” Gardenhire said.

Boyd departed the ballpark before the game ended for the birth of his child.

Castro hit a two-run shot in the first and had a sacrifice fly during a two-run seventh.

Victor Reyes got the Tigers’ first walk of the series leading off the first against Trevor Richards and scored on Castro’s homer.

Detroit finished with three walks, with two coming in the ninth off Jose Alvarado (1-5).

After Reyes had an RBI double, Castro’s sac fly in the seventh put the Tigers ahead 4-1.

Richards allowed two runs, eight hits and struck out six over 3 1/3 innings in his Tampa Bay debut. The right-hander, acquired from Miami on July 31, went 3-12 for the Marlins in 23 games, including 20 starts.

RARE COMPANY

Boyd joined Mickey Lolich (seven times) and Hal Newhouser (twice) as the only Tigers left-handers with 200 or more strikeouts in a season.

GETTING A BREAK

Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera, hitless in nine at-bats with seven strikeouts in the first two games of the series, got the day off.

MOVING AROUND THE DIAMOND

d’Arnaud made his 15th start at first base and also took grounders at third base before the game. He has started 39 times behind the plate.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Tigers: OF Christin Stewart (concussion), C Grayson Greiner (lower back strain) and 1B Jeimer Candelario (sprained left thumb) were all in the Triple-A Toledo lineup for the second consecutive day.

Rays: RHP Tyler Glasnow, who went 6-1 before being sidelined by a right forearm strain in mid-May, will have his first bullpen session Monday. … OF Avisail Garcia (right oblique strain) could be back in the next seven to 10 days.

UP NEXT

Tigers: RHP Edwin Jackson (3-5), a 17-year veteran, looks to win his third consecutive start since joining Detroit on Monday night at Houston. The AL West-leading Astros will counter with LHP Wade Miley (11-4).

Rays: LHP Brendan McKay (2-2) will go against Seattle LHP Marco Gonzalez (12-10) on Monday night.

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About 20 years ago, I got into the Special Olympics world. My brother, Stephen, was an athlete and was at the age where he could start going to the state games, both winter and summer. My dad took over as his coach and they found snowshoeing would be his best sport to begin with.

Steve was good at snowshoeing. Taking after our mom’s side of the family, he was long and tall, very helpful when running with huge shoes on your feet in the snow. It was quickly evident he needed to go to the State Winter Games to see if he could medal in some of these events.

I didn’t g up to Traverse City every year but when I was in college, I volunteered twice. I went to the Opening Ceremonies every time I was there. The stars of the show were these guys in green jackets. They were normal looking guys lead by a Tigers legend. They were the Wertz Warriors.

The Wertz Warriors were an endurance snowmobile group started in 1982 by former Detroit Tigers player Vic Wertz. He wanted to raise money for the Special Olympics through a long ride through Northern Michigan. He got together a group of six friends to join and they took off. From there they started raising more money, adding more riders and support crew and it has grown to a group that can pay FULLY for the Special Olympics State Winter Games by themselves.

Wertz died just three years after starting the ride but those early riders kept it going, adding Tigers legend Mark The Bird” Fidrych to the roster. He was there when I started in with Special Olympics.

I never gave a whole lot of thought to the group other than supreme thanks. Even then, if they weren’t there, my parents would have paid for my brother to go…it wasn’t my money. But I quickly realized, not many athletes had that luxury of a family that could pay the way for an experience like the State Winter Games and a stay at a resort like Grand Traverse for three days. But because of the Wertz Warriors, they could.

I started working for 9&10 News in 2010. When it came time for the State Winter Games to roll around I, of course, pitched going out to cover them on their ride. I covered their ride for five years as a reporter on the outside, looking in, looking for a way to get the story done early in the day so I could be free to go up to the Opening Ceremonies on Wednesday to be with my family.

While covering the group, the chairman, Ken Mattei was always pushing me to join. They are desperate for new members, especially young ones. I always brushed it off, I didn’t own a sled and barely had ay experience riding one. But Ken persisted.

Eventually in 2016, I broke down and decided to join. At the time I lived in Grand Rapids and every other rider was in metro Detroit or up in Northern Michigan. Ken supplied me with a sled and I didn’t raise any funds, just paid my own way. I only rode for the first half of the week because February is sweeps month in our business and I couldn’t take it off. I was a Wertz Warrior though, at that point.

After that, I got clearance to take the whole week to ride and have done so ever since. When the weather cooperated, we rode across Northern Michigan, stopping in small towns, at local establishments raising money, collecting checks and bringing up the awareness of our cause.

Every year we pay $285,000 to Special Olympics Michigan to COMPLETELY cover the cost of the Winter Games but we regularly raise more than $400,000, with the rest going back to the local Special Olympics areas in the form of grants.

So I say all that to say, Sunday we kick off our 2019 ride. Mother Nature has gifted us with PLENTY of snow and a *bit* of cold weather for the week. We should be able to ride every mile of our ride this year which is very exciting, as long as we avoid frostbite.

I will be here with you every evening of the ride recapping the day’s events and looking ahead to the next day’s itinerary. I will have photos and vides of the action, including a story Tuesday night when we stop in Cadillac and we will be live on Michigan This Morning on Wednesday, January 30th as we take off from Cadillac on our way to the Opening Ceremonies in Traverse City.

Please keep checking in as the week progresses and support the Wertz Warriors and Special Olympics Michigan in every way you can. The difference we can all make in their lives in priceless.

See you along the trail.

Sunday’s Schedule

10:00 AM – Skidway Lake American Legion

12:00 PM – Sand Lake Sports Bar

1:45 PM – T&C Sports Lounge (Au Gres)

3:30 PM – Hank’s (Alger)

4:30 PM – Home Pub (Alger)

5:45 PM Quality Inn (West Branch)

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The good news for the Tigers is that it would be very hard for things to get worse. In 2019, they lost 114 games for a .292 winning percentage, and only once before in franchise history have they lost more. In 2003, they lost 119 games at a .265 win-loss clip.

After that season, they jettisoned nearly everything that wasn’t bolted down, and they managed to reach the World Series by 2006; perhaps the recipe for the modern-day Tigers should be the same.

From 2003 to 2006, they kept only Brandon Inge and Craig Monroe from their starting lineup on offense, and only Jeremy Bonderman from their rotation. Beyond those three, the players who had the bulk of the playing time changed over almost entirely.

Sixteen years later, the Tigers front office is in a position again where it has to examine who is worth keeping.

What’s on tap this off-season? Check out Forbes’ full MLB off-season preview, with best-case scenarios and worst-case scenarios for all 30 teams.

Today In: Business
Off-Season Priorities
Where to start? At the trade deadline, Detroit took the first step toward rolling over its roster by trading Nicholas Castellanos to the Cubs, but the return they got (minor league pitchers Alex Lange and Paul Richan) is still in question. Lange is a 2017 first-rounder and he pitched well in Double-A in 2019, but he is still a ways off from making an impact on the Tigers pitching staff, and Richan was a 2018 compensatory pick who is still in Single-A.

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Repairing this roster will have to be a multi-year process, and a lot of it will hinge on the development of players like Christin Stewart and Jake Rogers on offense and Casey Mize and Matt Manning on the mound.

The Tigers are a bit hamstrung financially by money still owed to Miguel Cabrera, who is due at least $30 million per year through 2023, but overall the team payroll is low enough going into 2020 that they could be active in free agency if they chose.

Top Priority: Make room for the kids to play and see what you have. Stewart got 416 plate appearances last year and showed flashes of what’s possible. Get him in the lineup every day in 2020. Mize and Manning were brilliant in Double-A in 2019; they’re the future of Detroit’s pitching staff.

Decision Time
The Tigers will have a lot of natural roster changeover this winter. Tyson Ross, Jordy Mercer, Matt Moore, Gordon Beckham, Edwin Jackson, Blaine Hardy, John Hicks, and Daniel Stumpf are all headed to free agency.

Along with that group, Joe Jimenez, Jeimer Candelario, Niko Goodrum, and Spencer Turnbull are entering pre-arbitration in 2020.

There are also a few players left who are worth dangling in the trade market. Matthew Boyd drew interest at the deadline, but he tailed off in the second half of the season, so his value isn’t what it was a few months ago. Daniel Norris is due an estimated $2.9 million in 2020, according to Roster Resource, and then he is due to enter arbitration the following year. Norris turns 27 next April and coming off of his strongest season so far.

Likeliest To Leave: No one. The Tigers traded Castellanos and closer Shane Greene on July 31, and if they were going to deal someone like Boyd, it likely would have happened at the same time as the others.

Hot Stove Agenda
A rotation built around Boyd and Norris can do decently, but after that, the Tigers obviously need a lot of help. The 2019 staff ranked 20th in fWAR as a group, with Boyd, Norris, and Spencer Turnbull as the top contributors. They could supplement this group by going big and pursuing Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg (if he opts out) this winter, but more realistically, they could do well by going a tier below those two and go after Zack Wheeler or Jake Odorizzi. Or, given their history trading with the Cubs, Jose Quintana could be lured away. He has a $11.5 club option for 2020.

The far greater need is on offense, however. The Tigers were dead last in fWAR at -2.6 in 2019, almost six wins above replacement worse than the next lowest team, the Marlins. Despite being traded away in July, Castellanos had the third-highest fWAR on the team. This group needs help.

Top Target: A bat. Several bats. The way the market stands now, Marcell Ozuna is the best option in the outfield, but the biggest splash is at third base in Anthony Rendon. He will easily be the most highly sought-after bat in free agency, but if the Tigers are serious about moving forward, they need to be in on him.

Best-Case Scenario
The past repeats itself, and the 2019 Tigers follow the path of the 2003 group. Back then, they improved by almost 30 wins from 2003 to 2004, and then took the huge step forward in 2006. At the beginning of this decade, they made four consecutive trips to the postseason, including another World Series berth in 2012. Perhaps the beginning of the 2020s will turn out similarly.

Worst-Case Scenario
The Tigers are in bad shape, and far behind not just in the standings but also in their approach to analytics and player development. The bright future possible in players like Stewart, Mize and Manning fizzles if Detroit doesn’t catch up in this regard.

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The current Tigers season may continue to disappoint, but many sports collectibles are perennial winners, says DuMouchelle appraiser Jerry Anderson, who specializes in the topic. He recently took a look at two Tigers-related artifacts brought in by Larry Smith at a downtown appraisal session held at the landmark gallery and auction house.

“I have two items for consideration,” Smith wrote in an email asking for advice with accompanying photos. “The first shown here is a watch fob with watch, not shown. I understand these were issued to the Detroit Tigers ball players when they won their pennant in 1907. The second item is a poster of the Tigers from 1907 when they won the pennant. People have claimed to have seen this poster in the past but no one else has been able to produce it. It’s very possible this is a one of a kind.”

Smith brought both items to DuMouchelles. “I got it about 1950 from my Dad’s uncle, or my great uncle, who worked for the Detroit Police Department,” he informed the appraiser about the poster. “It hangs in my office.”

The poster is a reminder of a winning team from the past and reads “Hughie Jennings and His Great Tigers,” with photographs of team members. Anderson identified it as being postcards on an uncut sheet made by the Dietsche Postcard Company.

The appraiser said he looked for comparables in gathering information for the appraisal, and that an original postcard featuring just Jennings sold in 2004 for $20.

Unfortunately, Anderson told Smith that his sheet is a reproduction of the original, albeit an older reproduction by today’s standards if he acquired it in the 1950s. “You know that it’s a print and a copy because you can see the microdots,” Anderson explained as he showed Smith and the others attending the event. “The dots are left behind by the printing process.”

Even as an older reproduction, the poster would have a value of $100 to $200, he said.

He was less successful finding out much about the watch, which was made by Waltham and gold-filled. “I couldn’t find anything similar so there might not be many around,” he told Smith. “I found one from the New York Yankees that was issued to players as a token but nothing from the Tigers, so this might be something similar.”

The brass fob has a Tigers 1907 on it. “It may have been sold separately for your watch chain,” he said. He valued the watch and fob at $250 to $300.

Anderson said he wished he could tell Smith that the postcards and poster were original. “If they were, they’d fetch more like $2,000 to $3,000,” he added.

Do you have an object you would like to know more about? Send a photo and description that includes how you acquired the object to: The Detroit News, Trash or Treasure?, 160 W. Fort St., Detroit, MI 48226. Include your name and daytime telephone number. You may also send your photo and description to [email protected] If chosen you’ll need to bring the items to an appraisal session. Letters are edited for style and clarity. Photos cannot be returned.

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Matthew Boyd was named ‘Tiger of the Year’ by the Baseball Writers Association of America yesterday after his performance with the Detroit Tigers in 2019.
2019 was a season to forget for most of the Detroit Tigers. Matthew Boyd, on the other hand, had the best season of his career. Yesterday, he was named the ‘Tiger of the Year‘ by Detroit’s chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

The 28-year-old left-handed pitcher pitched 185.1 innings over 32 starts and finished the season with a 4.56 ERA and a 9-12 record. His most impressive statistic was the number of strikeouts he recorded. He averaged 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings and had 238 on the season.

Boyd’s stats don’t really reflect how great of a season he had. This is partially due to how poorly he performed at the end of the year. Boyd also had some issues keeping the ball in the park, which was a more common issue in 2019, where home runs were hit with great regularity. Despite these things, he was easily the best performer on a rebuilding team.

The big question surrounding Boyd is whether he will remain a Tiger. There were plenty of rumors about him before the 2019 trade deadline, but Al Avila wasn’t willing to make any trades then. With this being the case, Boyd didn’t do himself any favors in the second half of the 2019 season, and his trade value has probably diminished. Avila hasn’t disclosed whether he plans to deal Boyd this offseason, or at all.

Boyd has made it clear that he hopes to remain a Tiger, but baseball is ultimately a business and it is unclear whether Detroit plans to make him an integral part of their rebuild. As it stands, he is the Tiger of the Year from the 2019 season and will continue to be a Tiger for the time being.

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If you’ve ever spent any time at the Kansas City Royals’ Kauffman Stadium, or the Cincinnati Reds’ Great American Ballpark, you have likely had an opportunity to walk through their incredible Hall of Fame museums. Each one is situated in its own building on site at the park, and is outfitted with great memorabilia from the team’s history, as well as recognizing the franchise’s best players.

The Detroit Tigers don’t ignore their history. The outfield walls at Comerica Park are emblazoned with the names of Hall of Fame Tigers, as well as those whose numbers have been retired by the team. The outfield concourse has a number of beautiful statues depicting great Tigers in action. But it’s not enough.

It was only in 2018 that Alan Trammell and Jack Morris had their induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and Trammell’s longtime double play partner Lou Whitaker remains overlooked even now. There have been calls by fans (us included) for the Tigers to retire Whitaker’s No. 1 jersey for years.

The team could do better than that, though. It’s high time the Tigers built their own Hall of Fame on site at Comerica Park. For a team with 118 years of history, four World Series wins, and some of the greatest players of all-time, it seems like a massive oversight that there isn’t already a shrine to their achievements that fans can visit. There are 27 Tigers in Cooperstown, from Ty Cobb to Jack Morris. Only eight of those were inducted by the BBWAA in the general vote, while the rest were either voted on by the Veterans or Old Timers committees.

That overlooks dozens of other Tigers heroes who may not have the numbers to make it into the Hall of Fame, but still deserve to be remembered by new generations of fans.

A thread on Twitter brought up an incredible list of suggestions, and below I give five picks that aren’t in Cooperstown, who should be recognized by the Tigers with a place in a local Hall of Fame.

Lou Whitaker
Sweet Lou, a true Tigers great. I don’t think there are many who disagree that Whitaker should be in the regular Hall of Fame, and can’t imagine a single Tigers fan would pick anyone different to be the first inductee into a Tigers new Hall of Fame (along with retiring his number). Whitaker was a member of the 1984 World Series team, a five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger, three-time Gold Glove winner, and the 1978 Rookie of the Year. His lifetime batting line was .276/.363/.426 in 19 seasons with the Tigers. Honestly, why isn’t he in the Hall of Fame?

Bill Freehan
Bill Freehan is one of the best Tigers catchers of all-time, full stop. He’s an 11-time All-Star, a five-time Gold Glove winner, and a member of the 1968 World Series team. In terms of JAWS, the metric which measures the seven best seasons of rWAR by position to establish players who should be in the Hall of Fame, Freehan ranks 16th. Of all time. Ten of the 15 men above him are in Cooperstown. Freehan has earned his place in a Comerica Park Hall of Fame.

Dick McAuliffe
There’s a bit of a trend of the next couple names, in that they were members of the 1968 World Series team, but truly a lot of these guys deserve to be acknowledged by the Tigers. A three-time All-Star, McAuliffe played for the Tigers for 14 seasons before ending his career with the Boston Red Sox. He ended his career just shy of 200 home runs, with 197, and had a final line of .247/.343/.403. Not Hall of Fame numbers, but definitely a player who should be in the Tigers Hall.

Denny McLain
Denny McLain is a polarizing choice for some of his off field issues, including an involvement in organized crime and a prison stint, but for the Tigers, he was a two-time Cy Young winner, a three-time All-Star, an AL MVP, and World Series winner. As far as checking some impressive Hall of Fame boxes, McLain has the pedigree. He has a career ERA of 3.39 and in his 1968 season won a whopping 31 games. He might not be in Cooperstown, but he deserves to be in a Comerica Park Hall of Fame.

Boots Poffenberger
A shoe-in for one of the greatest Tigers names of all time, this one was suggested by Tigers History on Twitter, and had to be included for the 80-grade name alone. Poffenberger, who you’ve likely never heard of, played for the Tigers for two seasons from 1937-38 and had a career ERA of 4.75. So, not great, and not better than genuine suggestions like Chet Lemon or the others above, but now you know about Boots, and that makes me happy.

Beyond just being an opportunity to tip a cap to their history and to the incredible men who have played for the team in the past, opening a Hall of Fame at Comerica Park would provide a new feature to the park that would draw fans in, even when the team on the field isn’t at its most exciting. People come to the park for baseball, absolutely, but park amenities are a huge factor of what makes the experience memorable.

By leaning into their history and creating a new feature for fans, the Tigers could bring more people into the park, and also show their respects to the past.

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Free Press sports writer Anthony Fenech opens a six-pack of Detroit Tigers questions in the latest mailbag:

Tom Miller
@millerth3
Replying to @anthonyfenech @freepsports
Is Miggy basically done physically, or can he regain his former level of output?

9:59 PM – Nov 18, 2019
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I don’t think Miguel Cabrera is done physically, but I think it’s going to take an exemplary level of mental and physical discipline to sniff being the best hitter in baseball again.

[ Miguel Cabrera, even on one leg, did all he could for the Tigers in 2019 ]

It would surprise me if Cabrera, who turns 37 years old in April, did that. But it would not surprise me if he finished his career as a very productive hitter who hits .300 with 20-plus home runs in a season.

The decision ultimately comes down to Cabrera, who is in a Catch-22 of sorts: Because of his chronically-injured knee – which forced him into a permanent designated hitter role in 2019 – he is unable to shed weight through traditional practices like running or cardiovascular activity, which puts pressure on that knee.

Tigers designated hitter Miguel Cabrera gets set to bat in the first inning on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019, at Comerica Park.
Tigers designated hitter Miguel Cabrera gets set to bat in the first inning on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019, at Comerica Park. (Photo: Rick Osentoski USA TODAY Sports)

Cabrera has reportedly hired an in-house chef to improve his diet this winter. That’s a good start, but an incomplete one: In addition to finding a better physical shape, Cabrera must also find a better mental shape, as well.

More on Tigers: They should cut the B.S., let their smart new hires speak for themselves

The big question is whether Cabrera, a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, with hundreds of millions of dollars, playing on a team facing another losing season, still strives for the kind of greatness he once had – and if he is willing to go through the rigors to achieve it.

At full health, I think he can still contribute greatly.

Scott Gauthier
@scoga11
Replying to @anthonyfenech
Chances tigers trade pitching(Not Mize/Manning) for a young MLB ready position player, and if so who might be in play, or who would you like to see?

10:57 PM – Nov 18, 2019
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I think it’s something they’d certainly entertain; Avila said as much in his conference call following the July 31 trade deadline.

Pulling off a trade like that, however, flies in the face of what has been their over-arching strategy in hoarding pitching prospects. It opens them up to the risk of trading the wrong pitcher – would you really move a high-potential pitcher like Tarik Skubal after the season he just had? Or Alex Faedo, with the improvements he showed?

From this perspective, the answer is no. Beau Burrows and Kyle Funkhouser, two pitchers who will be added to the 40-man roster on Wednesday, doesn’t carry much trade capital. Perhaps a buy-low for buy-low situation could emerge.

Also keep in mind that the organization has deep ties with these prospects, only growing over the years. There is a human element to this, as well, when talking about players an organization has drafted and developed.

A good trade in the sense you’re referencing could be a big boon, however.

Geri Pleva
@GeriPleva
Replying to @anthonyfenech
Do you think Franklin Perez will ever pitch in the majors?

10:35 PM – Nov 18, 2019
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Yes, but I’m not sure it will be as a starting pitcher, given his injury history.

Franklin Perez’s potential is well-documented; last spring, the Tigers were very excited about the year to come with Perez, only to be left wondering once again when the young right-hander spent most of the season on the shelf with a shoulder injury.

Sure, there’s the possibility that his mechanics just won’t ever work, but the time may be coming – especially with the emergence of other pitchers in the farm system – for the Tigers to see if Perez responds to a relief role.

He was billed as an inning-eating, workhorse, but Perez hasn’t been able to stay on the field long enough to build up his innings.

Perez’s stunted development mirrors that of the Tigers’ entire return for Justin Verlander two seasons ago: None of the three players have lived up to their billing yet, while Verlander won the American League Cy Young Award this season.

DON W.DELANY
@delanydon
Replying to @anthonyfenech
Why didn’t the tigers make a bid for Gabe http://Kapler.now most likely next year is gardys last year anyway.kapler would have been a natural in the older English D.

1
12:49 AM – Nov 19, 2019
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Because the Tigers have a much better manager under contract for next season.

It was surprising to me that the Giants, and second-year general manager Farhan Zaidi, made such a move, so fresh after Gabe Kapler’s ouster from Philadelphia — which was, generously, a struggle — picking him to succeed likely future Hall of Famer Bruce Bochy.

Kapler – along with David Ross in Chicago and Jayce Tingler in San Diego – were puzzling hires. I think managers are very important. Leadership, authority and experience is important. I wouldn’t hire a manager who played with some of my key players just a few years ago, or a first-year manager who has no experience trying to keep a player like Manny Machado in check.

Speaking of managers: Why Doug Mientkiewicz wasn’t yes-man enough to stay with the Tigers organization

Perhaps the most important subplot of this year’s Tigers season is if the front office will do enough to back Ron Gardenhire and his coaching staff. Another year like 2019 will not suffice, with the way they were left short-handed so many nights, and will likely close the door on their tenure.

From this perspective, Gardenhire and his staff has done an incredible job of keeping things together during these two seasons. I hope they get the opportunity to serve at the helm of a competitive team.

Matthew Teitsma
@theerealmattyt
Replying to @anthonyfenech
With other MLB teams showing off New Jersey’s with Nike, have you heard of anything regarding the Tigers jerseys? I can’t stand the change from 2 seasons ago and would love the old mismatched jersey hat combo to come back!

1
9:23 PM – Nov 19, 2019
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If I had to guess, I would guess the Tigers home uniform will remain the exact same, except for a Nike logo on the right chest.

There is no chance the change from two seasons ago – aligning the Old English D on the home uniform with the Old English D on the hat – is reversed. But good on the Tigers for making the logo on their hat smaller.

Also, Matt, I agree with you. They shouldn’t have changed anything. But I’m a curmudgeon.

Drew
@Drew51762407
Replying to @anthonyfenech
Any chance we try and make a “blockbuster” trade that also involves some of our prospects? For example: Boyd and Mize for Betts. Not exactly that but a trade where we have to give up more to get the “main piece”

3:59 AM – Nov 19, 2019
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There is no chance the Tigers would trade Casey Mize under any circumstances, let alone one with Matthew Boyd – who still has three years of team control remaining – for a player who is one year away from free agency.

I don’t know what qualifies a “blockbuster” trade anymore, but the Tigers don’t seem to have the pieces to execute such a move. Perhaps Boyd for a strong prospect haul could fall into that category, but the Tigers passed on deals for him last trade deadline, and given his second-half regression, the market may not bear similar fruits.

Besides Boyd, I can’t identify any players on the major league team that would command significant prospect hauls, but with 29 other teams, there’s certainly some combination of big-leaguers and prospects that could result in a bold move, I’m just not sold the Tigers have the ability to find it.

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If you’re holding out hope that some of the young players who were part of the Detroit Tigers’ 114-loss season in 2019 are on the verge of turning a corner in 2020, you should probably stop reading now.

The future — the immediate future, anyway — is not very bright.

That’s the opinion of the freshly released Steamer projections at Fangraphs.

As always, any projection system is only a best guess using available data and can’t account for all the individual improvements, adjustments and changes that players make from year to year.

That said, Steamer is a well-respected and generally reliable projection system. It gives a good baseline for expectations going into a new year. Some players will overachieve, others will underachieve, but this is a good starting point.

And the Tigers are starting from a very low point.

Although the official Steamer projections make a best guess at playing time, at this point in the offseason it’s easier to use Steamer 600, which assumes that position players will get 600 plate appearances, starting pitchers will have 200 innings and relief pitchers will have 60.

THE OFFENSE

For simplicity, we’ll use weighted Runs Created scaled to 100. Anything above 100 is above the league average; anything under is worse than the league average.

So let’s plug those numbers in and see — oh my goodness, this is terrible!

There is just one player who is projected to have better-than-league-average run production. That would be Miguel Cabrera (108 wRC+), whose weight, uncertain health and balky knee make it incredibly unlikely that he will log 600 plate appearances.

In Steamer 600, there is only one player who projects to have a WAR greater than 2.0. That’s prospect Isaac Paredes. He hasn’t played a single game in Triple-A Toledo and is unlikely to arrive in Detroit until later in the year.

Repeating for emphasis: Even under the most optimistic projections, there is just a single 2.0 WAR player in the entire organization. And he’ll be starting the season in Toledo.

Let’s take a step back from this ugliness and take a look at some individual projections:

Steamer says not to give up on outfielder Christin Stewart (98 wRC+) or corner infielder Jeimer Candelario (98), which the Tigers seem keen on doing. Stewart and Candelario are both projected to have nearly league average run production, which puts them near the top of the list offensively.

Steamer also hasn’t completely soured on outfielder Travis Demeritte (94 wRC+), even after a modest Major League debut in 2019.

But it’s not terribly excited about Victor Reyes (84 wRC+), predicting that the Tigers could get similar production out of Jacob Robson (84) or recent waiver pickup Troy Stokes (83). Reyes might still be a valuable fourth outfielder, but Steamer doesn’t see the Tigers being rewarded for their investment of a Rule 5 pick and two years of patience.

Not surprisingly, Steamer is even more bearish on the other half of the BABIP Bros, Harold Castro (69 wRC+), whose average was also inflated by a high batting average on balls in play in 2019.

Steamer is unimpressed with JaCoby Jones’ brief offensive resurgence in 2019 (80 wRC+). It’s also not overly impressed with Willi Castro (81 wRC+). But Castro still has room to grow, whereas Dawel Lugo (81) is two years older and out of options.

Steamer also doesn’t like either of the Tigers’ catchers — Grayson Greiner (71 wRC+) or Jake Rogers (72).

Even Niko Goodrum, one of the few bright spots of the last two years, is projected to take a step back (86 wRC+).

That’s about it. In summary, Steamer thinks the Tigers’ offense is almost uniformly awful. Send help. Please.

Matthew Boyd
AP

Detroit Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd smiles in the dugout against the Philadelphia Phillies in the first inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Tuesday, July 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

PITCHING

What about the pitching?

Steamer thinks Tarik Skubal (2.3 WAR in 200 hypothetical innings) would be the Tigers’ fourth-best starting pitcher. Right now.

That’s behind Matthew Boyd (3.4), Michael Fulmer (2.8) and Spencer Turnbull (2.5).

Then comes Daniel Norris (2.0).

That’s the extent of the Tigers 2.0 WAR pitchers — even under the generous assumption of 200 innings pitched.

Top prospects Matt Manning (1.4) and Casey Mize (1.2) are ranked ahead of Jordan Zimmermann (0.9). In fact, the arrival of one or both of those pitchers might knock Zimmermann to the unemployment line later in 2020, the final year of Zimmermann’s contract.

Among relievers, Joe Jimenez and Buck Farmer are at the top of the bullpen, as you might expect. But Steamer is also surprisingly bullish on Matt Hall (4.15 ERA, 0.6 WAR). It is less excited about David McKay, Gregory Soto and Bryan Garcia.

That shouldn’t be surprising. The Tigers’ piecemeal bullpen at this point is basically Jimenez, Farmer and whoever stands out in spring training. That’s probably as it should be for a rebuilding team.

As for the rotation, the projections suggest that Skubal, Manning and Mize, who will likely start the year in Triple-A Toledo, aren’t too far away.

Next up in the prospect pecking order? Kyle Funkhouser, Alex Faedo, Franklin Perez and Joey Wentz.

You have to go a long way down the list to find Beau Burrows, a first-round pick in 2015 who had an inconsistent debut with Toledo in 2019.