Opening Day is almost here!
Though there may be plenty of fans pumped up about another season of Major League Baseball, that excitement probably will not last too long around these parts as the Detroit Tigers are projected to be one of the worst teams in the league.
That being said, there will be plenty of familiar faces on the roster this season along with some fresh faces.
Without further ado, let's take a look at the Detroit Tigers Opening Day lineup.
*As Evan Woodbery notes, though this roster is not “official,” it is what the roster will look like barring any injuries before Opening Day.
We now have a pretty good idea of the Tigers’ Opening Day roster. *Still unofficial* pic.twitter.com/z0sBJ7ZZ0s
— Evan Woodbery (@evanwoodbery) March 24, 2019
Nation, can this roster compete in the American League Central or are we in for another long season?
Bless You Boys: The Detroit Tigers’ Last Title
When it comes to the Detroit Tigers, there is one phrase that just about every fan recognizes and relates to the team. Some recognize the phrase because they lived through it and others because of stories they’ve been told. That phrase is, “Bless You Boys,” and it was used to describe the 1984 Detroit Tigers and their amazing season that ended with a World Series title. The phrase itself was actually coined by the late Al Ackerman, a former TV sportscaster for WDIV Detroit, during the magical 1984 season. Ackerman, according to former WDIV anchor Mort Crim, used the phrase sarcastically following a Tigers’ losing streak.
Expected to contend, Tigers come out on fire
After winning 92 games and missing out on the Major League Baseball Playoffs in 1983, the Tigers signed free agent first baseman Darrell Evans and traded for Dave Bergman and one of the keys to the 1984 team, Willie Hernandez. With those moves, in addition to bringing back Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Lance Parrish, Jack Morris, and Dan Petry, just to name a few, many believed the Tigers were poised to make a run at glory.
Manager Sparky Anderson used to say, “you can’t tell anything about a baseball team until 40 games have been played.” Though Sparky may or may not have really believed that, the 1984 Tigers made the best of their first 40 games out of the gate. In fact, the Tigers did not take long to prove they were focused and ready to roll as they won their first nine games of the season, including an 8-1 victory on Opening Day as Jack Morris dominated the Minnesota Twins. After dropping their first game of the campaign, a 5-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals, the Tigers immediately went on a seven-game winning streak to move to 16-1 on the season. By the time 40 games were in the book, Detroit sat at the top of baseball with an astounding 35-5 record, a mark that has never been reached in Major League Baseball history.
Wire to Wire
Following the 35-5 start, the Tigers fell back down to earth a bit, dropping four of their next five and 11 out of their next 20 overall to fall to 44-16 through 60 games. By the time the MLB All-Star Game rolled around, the Tigers were 57-27 and held a 7.0 game lead in the American League East. Despite being 30 games over .500, there were still plenty of games to be played and the Detroit team that once looked to be unbeatable was suddenly catchable. Or so it seemed.
After dropping their first game after the All-Star break, the Tigers caught fire in a big way, winning 11 of 12 to extend their lead in the East to 11.5 games. By the time the 1984 regular season came to an end, the Tigers led the division wire to wire as they cruised to a 104-58 record, 15.0 games better than the second place Toronto Blue Jays in the A.L. East. Other than a couple of scattered four-game losing streaks, Detroit was able to put out the fire whenever they needed to throughout the season, earning themselves a spot in the 1984 MLB Playoffs.
The Tigers had a balanced attack at the plate in 1984, including stellar performances from Alan Trammell (.314 BA, 14 HRs, 69RBIs), Chet Lemon (.287 BA, 20 HRs, 76 RBIs), and Kirk Gibson (.282, 27 HRs, 91 RBIs). Joining that trio was catcher Lance Parrish, who not only did a great job handling the pitching staff but had a team-high 33 home runs and 97 RBIs, despite hitting just .237. As far as pitching goes, Jack Morris (19), Dan Petry (18), and Milt Wilcox (17) combined to win 54 games but it was the newly acquired Willie Hernandez who stole the show out of the bullpen. In a whopping 80 appearances, Hernandez was 9-3 overall with 32 saves. That, coupled with a 1.92 ERA was enough to win him the American League Cy Young Award and the A.L. Most Valuable Player Award.
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