November 24, 2014

The All-Time Detroit Tigers (a draft book chapter)

November 20, 2010 by · 5 Comments 

Who would be selected for a mythical All-Time Tigers dream team roster? Who would be the starters and who the backups? Who gets snubbed, not quite good enough to make the squad? And how have other authors, as well as fan surveys and the like, answered this fun question throughout the years?

This is the latest of my Seamheads postings  that summarize draft book chapters in my forthcoming book on baseball “All-Time Teams” (book title TBD.) As I update/write each chapter, I will post an abstract here, with a link to the full draft chapter as a PDF file hosted at my personal website. I am doing this in part to get comments and feedback as I continue the writing process. To read the entire draft chapter for the Tigers, please see the  index web page and see the PDF for the Tigers chapter. Also, I encourage you to read the draft of the book introduction as well, which explains a few ground rules for this project (e.g., that I am not separating  OF positions into RF, CF, LF, and that I am only counting the time players played for that particular franchise, not their time played for other teams).


As you will see, the All-Time Tigers team is full of great hitters, with 3B being the only position of relative weakness. Their pitching staff, relative to other All-Time teams is not particularly strong, but even there they have had their share of strong individual seasons to be sure.

I will now list my selections for starter and backup at each position, including six outfielders (without separation by RF/CF/LF), and also including 10 pitchers (any combination of up to 8 starters and up to 4 relievers). For my write-ups on why I chose each player, and for the many other players I considered at each position, see the full draft chapter for this team.

  • 1B: Hank Greenberg, Norm Cash
  • 2B: Charlie Gehringer, Lou Whitaker
  • 3B: George Kell, Travis Fryman
  • SS: Alan Trammell, Harvey Kuenn
  • C: Bill Freehan, Lance Parrish
  • OF: Ty Cobb, Al Kaline, Sam Crawford, Harry Heilmann, Bobby Veach, Willie Horton
  • SP: Hal Newhouser, Mickey Lolich, Jack Morris, George Mullin, Dizzy Trout, Tommy Bridges, Hooks Dauss, Denny McLain
  • RP: John Hiller, Willie Hernandez

There were some tough decisions, and lots of good players who didn’t make this roster, so see the full draft chapter for details. And for each team I am picking one “extra” player, the one who I felt was most deserving amongst those who were not selected as a starter, backup, or amongst the ten pitchers. Who do you think it should be for the Tigers?

So assuming no DH, one reasonable starting lineup might be:
1. Ty Cobb OF
2. Sam Crawford OF
3. Al Kaline OF
4. Hank Greenberg 1B
5. Charlie Gehringer 2B
6. Alan Trammell SS
7. George Kell 3B
8. Bill Freehan C
9. Hal Newhouser SP

In the full draft chapter I then discuss the selections from other authors and fan surveys, including:

  • 1957: Sport magazine, December issue
  • 1969 The Sporting News Fan Poll
  • 1990: The Baseball Research Journal
  • 1992 The All-Time All-Star Baseball Book, Nick Acocella, and Donald Dewey
  • 1995 Baseball Ratings by Charles S. Faber
  • 2000 They Earned Their Stripes: The Detroit Tigers All-Time Team
  • 2003 Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Lineups by Rob Neyer
  • 2006 The Team By Team Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball, by Dennis Purdy
  • 2010 Few and Chosen: Defining Tigers Greatness Across the Eras, by Lance Parrish with Phil Pepe

Do you know of any books or fan surveys that I’ve missed here? Please let me know in the comments to this posting.

Finally, as part of this project I am determining the all-time team that would be determined by Bill James’ innovative  Win Shares system. To see those results, see the full draft chapter for this team.

Again, your comments and feedback on the draft chapter are very much appreciated, as I hope to get the book published in the next year or so.

Comments

5 Responses to “The All-Time Detroit Tigers (a draft book chapter)”
  1. Roger Conlee says:

    Bill Freehan and Lance Parrish over Mickey Cochrane? No way! Dizzy Trout before Virgil Trucks? No way! Overall, though, I give your list high marks.

  2. Tom Stone says:

    @Roger Conlee – Thanks for your comment! But did you read my full draft chapter to learn of my reasons for each selection? Cochrane only played two full seasons for the Tigers, so as important as he was to them in those two years, he hardly deserves to be on their All-Time team over Freehan or Parrish. And I did consider Trucks, but his resume seemed to come short compared with Trout and others. As I wrote about Trucks in the full book chapter, “He only had more than 16 wins in a season once.” One could argue that Trout’s best years came during the war-depleted seasons, so that inflated his numbers — fair enough. In the end I can understand an argument in favor of Trucks over Trout or others I chose, but not Cochrane — based on his actual time spent as a player in Detroit — over Freehan or Parrish.

  3. BaseballinDC says:

    I’d at least mention Marv Owen at third, and I’ll add another vote to reconsider Mickey Cochrane’s status, although of course criteria is subjective.

    Despite playing the bulk of his career in Philadelphia as you note, he was so revered in Detroit that one of the street adjoining Tiger stadium was named for him. For whatever reason, perhaps because he managed two pennant winners and 4 second place teams, I think he’s associated more with the Tigers than the A’s.

    One question – how do you envisioning this book differing from Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Lineups?

  4. Tom Stone says:

    @BaseballinDC – Regarding how my book will differ from Neyer’s — or any other book on the subject to-date — see any of the full draft chapters that I’ve posted at my website (linked from each summary article posted here at Seamheads). I go into more detail for each my selections than Neyer did, and then proceed to describe the differences between my selections and many other authors, fan surveys, etc. (Neyer included). I also compare my selections with the results from James’ Win Shares system. In fact, in most cases more than half of the length of each chapter will be these “reporting and comparing” discussions. So my book is meant to be more than just another individual giving their opinion on this fun question — but also a summary of all others who have done so to-date (including fan surveys in addition to authors).

    On the flip side, Neyer did a lot more than just give a starting and reserve roster, he provided several other “lineups” that were a lot of fun to consider (all-rookie, all-bust, all-native, etc.) I’m not doing any of those in my book.

  5. Roger Conlee says:

    I bow to your judgement. Making lists like that is fun. and you did a good job. I had thought Cochrane played maybe up to four years with the Tigers but, as my baseball encyclopedia confirms, you’re right. Best regards.

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