What's Left in Left?
Amazing to me that after the awesome talent we have seen at all the other Tiger positions, the relative paucity of great years in leftfield. (That ought to start a few fights in the old bar room.)
Some of these guys I've never heard of, and many I've never seen, but I guess we must use the list of nominations we are given, and obviously, and as always, your commentator has an opinion.
Bobby Veach is one of the guys I've never heard of. My Dad never told me about him (because he never saw Veach either) but in 1921 (Dad was just nine, and living way up north)Bobby had a career-year. He hit .338 and was fourth in the league with 128 RBI's. He must have been good with the glove, as he led the A.L. in putouts for a left fielder. But hey, in those heady days of offense, a .338 average wasn't that hot, and Veach's own teammates Cobb and Heilman hit .389 and .394 respectively. (Five starters hit over .300 for the Tigers that year, which certainly didn't hurt his RBI total if he hit low in the order.)Unfortunately, all this hitting went for naught, as the Tigers came in sixth, with Ruth and the Yankees taking another flag. (A Tiger ERA of 4.4 was no doubt part of the problem.)
Al Wingo had a career year in 1925, with a .370 average, but this was another year in the era of the hitter. In fact, Al's cohorts in the outfield, Cobb and Heilman, again hit over .370, the only time in MLB history (according wikipedia.)IMHO, "Red" Wingo wasn't too remarkable for his time.
A good (not great) year was had by Goose Goslin in 1936. He hit .315 with 24 homers and 125 RBI's, but in those days of Gehrig, Gehringer, Jimmie Foxx and Joe DiMaggio, he just wasn't among the leaders.
Many of us older guys remember "The Rock," Rocky Colavito. In 1961 he hit .290 with 45 dingers (I wish I could've been a sportswriter in the '40's and '50's). Of course, that was the year Roger Maris hit 61 homers, but Rocky was still good for fourth spot in total bases and fifth for homers. He also had a gun for an arm, getting 10 assists from the outfield.
Some of you have called him "Two-Swing Gibbie", but ya' gotta love something about Kirk Gibson. In 1984 he hit a respectable .282 with 27 homers and 91 RBI's. Trams, Whitaker, Lemon, even Bararo Garbay had better averages, Lance Parrish got more homers, but Gibbie brought it all with gusto, and with that blazing speed of his early career he was among the league leaders in triples.
By 2000, I had been gone from Detroit for 20 years, and the Tigers were turning in a mediocre season, four games under .500, but Bobby Higginson was turning in good season with a .300 average and 30 home runs. You guys fill in the rest.
If this was a draft, who would you pick?