Once again Gregg is dipping into the minor leagues for an author for this piece on Tiger DH. I have to admit it is fun doing the research. For this piece I found an article by George Vass in Baseball Digest from 2007 and also a website baseball-reference.com. Check them out.
To start with, we could have a lengthy conversation as to the benefits of the DH.
People with infinitely more wisdom have debated this issue since its inception in 1973. My personal opinion is that it is good for the game. Pitcher’s duels are always fun to watch, but the excitement of offense is what I love to watch. Most of the finalists I will list have had their careers extended because of the opportunity to assume the role of the DH.
In the history of the DH, two Tigers have been awarded as the American League DH of the year. Gates Brown won that distinction for his performance in 1973. He appeared in 133 games, batting .236 with 12 home runs and 50 rbis. #26 was always a fan favorite and can still be found at Comerica Park greeting fans. Willie Horton was the American League DH of the year in 1975. He appeared in 159 games, with 25 HR and 92 rbis. #23 also was a fan favorite (in fact it looks like most DHs are). I remember him walking the streets of Detroit during the ’67 riots trying to calm a divided city.
Other Tigers DHs include:
Rusty Staub (1978) – didn’t you love this big brute with that red hair? He played in all 162 games that year, batting .273, with 25 HR and 121 rbis. Those 121 rbis were the second most for the entire American League that year, and Staub was in 5th place for the MVP.
Dmitri Young (2005) – nicknamed “Meat Hook” – wasn’t he arrested for spousal abuse? In 2005 he was DH in 74 games and 1st base in 70 games. He hit .271, with 21 HR and 72 rbis.
Kirk Gibson (1995). During Kirk’s first tour of duty here he rarely DHed, but after becoming a World Series hero with the Dodgers, he finished his career here with lots of DHing. Kirk had a total of 60 HRs and 220 rbis as a DH. In 1995 he hit .260 with 9 HR and 35 rbis. Let me open a can of worms here – When Leyland’s tour of duty as a manager is done, how about considering Kirk Gibson, who is in training as bench coach of the Diamondbacks? – just a thought.
Frank Howard “Hondo” finished his career here in 1973 with 36 games at DH and another 72 in the field, hitting .256 with 12HR and 29 rbis. The website listed him as weighing 255 – NOT! One thing I remember about Frank was that I attended a game and he got thrown out of the game before a pitch was even thrown. I think he was continuing an argument from the day before, or maybe he wanted a day off. He probably doesn’t need to be listed here, but I am the author.
Al Kaline finished his career here in 1974, playing in 147 games, hitting, 262, with 13HRs and 64 rbis. Hard to consider Al for this category due to his phenomenal play in that infamous right field corner in Tiger Stadium.
Darrel Evans DHed in 72 games in 1988. He also played 1st and 3rd in 65 other games batting .208, with 22 HRs and 64 rbis. What an asset he was in 1984 during the pennant rush. He DHed is half of his games that year batting .232 with 16HRs and 63 rbis.
Gary Sheffield (2007) DHed in 119 games with another 26 in the outfield. Remember those chef hats that many people wore? He hit.298 with 25 HRS and 75rbis. Injuries plagued him. Either you liked him or you really didn’t (I was in the second category).
Marcus Thames (2009), originally was drafted by the Yankees in 1996 and he just signed a minor league contract with them on Feb. 8th – I sure hope he makes it somewhere. Last year he DHed in 50 games and played the field in another 42 games. He hit .252 with 13 HRs and 36 rbis.
Aubrey Huff (2009) – brought in to help us win the American League pennant – what a flop he was. He only hit .189 while with the Tigers. Thank you Mr. Dumbrowski.
2010 – Who knows? Guillen? Ordonez? Ramirez? Some Spring Training phenom? – stay tuned!
A final note not related to DHing. The website I used listed the amount of money players have earned in their careers. They only did this for more recent players. Here is the list (all in millions): Darrell Evans 3.6, Marcus Thames 4.3, Kirk Gibson 15.2, Aubrey Huff 34.8, Dmitri Young 52.8, AND
Gary Sheffield – 168. Didn’t Kaline once turn down $100,000 because he didn’t think he was worth that much?
(In case you couldn't guess, baseball fans, this was written by Chuck Piotrowski.)