We’ve all heard the term “defense wins championships” when it comes to professional sports, or any level of sports for that matter.
In baseball, I think the term would be slightly translated to “pitching wins championships” if I were a guessing man.
In 2006, the Detroit Tigers had the most dominate pitching staff, not just in the American League, but in all of baseball.
Justin Verlander (2006 AL Rookie of the Year), Kenny Rogers, Jeremy Bonderman and Nate Robertson headlined the starting pitching staff. Every starter mentioned, but Verlander, went 200 plus innings for the Tigers that season. Remember when Robertson started the “Gum Time!” fad that seemed to spark a rally whenever Nate would bust out the Big League Chew in the dugout?
Ah, those were the days!
Joel Zumaya, Jamie Walker, Fernando Rodney & Wilfredo Ledezma were the backbones of the bullpen. Everybody remembers whenever Jimi Hendrix’s classic hit ‘Voodoo Child’ would begin to blare throughout Comerica Park that the radar gun was about to really heat up because Zumaya was on his way to the mound. It was a feeling like Charlie Sheen’s character, Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn was entering the game in the sports classic “Major League.” The crowd roared and knew they were in for something spectacular. Zumaya would make 62 appearances for the Tigers during the regular season in 2006. He compiled a 1.94 ERA, posted 30 holds and struck out a staggering 97 batters.
I can recall the shirt that came out for Zumaya not soon after he was such a force on the mound that read “Now Entering the Zumaya Zone.” It was a speed limit sign and it had 103 MPH on the sign.
The pitching staff as a whole led the majors in ERA (3.84) and total shutouts (16). They also led the American League in Runs Scored (675) & Earned Runs Allowed (618) and racked up over 1,000 total strikeouts in 2006.
22 years before this magical season occurred was the last time the Detroit Tigers and their fans got to celebrate such an accomplishment. The accomplishment of making it to the World Series.
The end result wasn’t what we all wanted to see in Tigertown, but there were so many memories made when it came to the ’06 AL Championship squad. The team that defied all the odds it seemed like, and went on to the World Series was carried by the outstanding arms that donned the Old English D that season.
What is your take on the 2006 Detroit Tigers’ pitching staff, Nation? Sound off!