8 of the Greatest Detroit Tigers in the history of Baseball

July 11, 2014

After looking at some of the greats who’ve played for the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers, we turn our attention to the Detroit Tigers.

The Tigers have been a part of the baseball landscape since 1894 and yes during all this time, a lot of great players have played for them. It is a long exhaustive list of greats but one that we have is trimmed down to eight of the best. So let’s take a look at the names of those without whom the Detroit Tigers would be nothing.


1-‘The Georgia Peach’ (1905 – 1926)


The first name on the list is none other than “The Georgia Peach,” Ty Cobbs. He is one of the best players to have played the sport and set an incredible ninety records in Major League baseball. Cobbs was a behemoth when it came to talent. He retired with a .367 batting average (the highest by any player) and 4191 hits. He pummeled 117 home runs and had a 1,938 RBI with 892 stolen bases.

Cobbs was an AL MVP, a Triple Crown winner, an AL home run champion, four time AL RBI champion and an incredible twelve time AL batting champion. He made it into the Baseball Hall of Fame in its inaugural year which was 1936. Cobbs got 222 votes out of a total of 226, the most by any player that year.


2-‘Mr. Tiger’ (1953 – 1974)


Al Kaline aka ‘Mr. Tiger’ was a class apart. He made his debut in 1953 as an outfielder and retired in 1974 as a – fully certified, no questions asked – legend. With a batting average of .297, 3,007 hits, 299 home runs and a 1,583 RBI, it is easy to see why he’s known as ‘Mr. Tiger’.

Al Kaline was picked as an All-Star on eighteen occasions. He was a ten time Gold Glove Award winner and was a part of the Tigers third World Series winning squad in 1968. Al Kaline made it into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980 by getting 88.3% votes in the first ballot and that was merited as well.


3-‘Hammerin’ Hank’ (1930, 1933 – 1941, 1945 – 1946)


There haven’t been many sluggers better than Hank Greenberg. He spent his entire eighteen year career with the Detroit Tigers apart from the last one when he moved to the Pirates. No right hander in MLB history has more RBIs than Greenberg. His career batting average was .313 with 331 home runs and 1,276 RBIs. Greenberg made it to the All-Star ranks on five occasions, won two AL MVP gongs and got his hands on the World Series titles twice. He made it into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1956. No wonder he was known as the ‘Hammerin’ Hank’


4-‘Tram’ (1977 – 1996)


One of the best shortstops in MLB history, Alan Trammell spent two decades as a professional ballplayer and each of those twenty years were spent on the Detroit Tigers roster. He retired with a .285 batting average and 185 home runs. Trammell pounded 2,365 hits on his way to becoming an absolute legend of the game.

He made it to six All-Star teams, won four Gold Glove Awards and three Silver Slugger Awards. Not only that, he also won the World Series and was declared the World Series MVP that season.


5-‘The Mechanical Man’ (1924 – 1942)


Major League Baseball has seen its share of talented second basemen but not a lot of them were better than the great Charlie Gehringer.  He spent all of his nineteen playing years with Tigers and retired as one of the most brilliant second baseman of all time. He notched up a total of an incredible 2,839 hits on his way to recording seven campaigns of 200 hits and more. His batting average was more than just a little impressive .320 with 184 home runs and 1,427 RBIs.

Gehringer or the ‘The Mechanical Man’ was picked as an All-Star half a dozen times and was instrumental in leading the Detroit Tigers to their first ever World Series win in 1935. He was also declared an AL MVP and an AL batting champion in 1937. The icing on the cake came when he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1949 after receiving 85.03% votes.


6-‘Slug’ (1914, 1916 – 1929)


Harry “Slug” Heilmann was part of the Detroit Tigers roster for seventeen years and he made every year count. He retired with a .342 batting average which puts him twelfth on the list of players with the highest average. He racked up 2,660 hits, 183 home runs and notched up 1,539 RBIs.

He was also a 4 time AL batting champion. Heilmann also holds the distinction of hitting a home run in every ballpark that was in use during his career in the United States. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1952 with 86.8% votes.


7-Behind the Mask(1961, 1963 – 1976)


Bill Freehan raised the bar when it came to how catchers should play. He had a fifteen year career with the Detroit Tigers and during that time, he cemented his status as one of the most legendary catchers of all time.

Freehan’s .9933 fielding percentage was the highest by any player till 2002. He notched up a batting average of .262. With 2,502 total bases and 200 hundred home runs, Freehan stands third on the list of catchers behind Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey.  He was also an eleven times All-Star, five time Gold Glove winner, a World Series champion and authored the 1969 season ‘Behind the Mask’.


8-‘Sweet Lou’ (1977 – 1995)


Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell formed a “double play” duo that was regarded by many as the best in the business. Whitaker retired with a .276 batting average and 244 home runs. Whitaker also has 2,369 hits and 1,084 RBIs to his credit.

He was picked in five All-Star squads between 1983 and 1987 and lifted the World Series title in 1984. Whitaker was AL Rookie of the year in 1978 and retired as a three time Gold Glove Award winner and a four time Silver Slugger.


This is it. This is our list of 8 of the greatest Detroit Tigers who played a big role in making the franchise roar for more than a century. Now it’s your turn to comment, let us know if we’ve missed anyone.

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