The Detroit Tigers have a proud and long history of baseball dating back to 1894 in the Western League. Throughout that storied history, there have been many players to call first base their position. When you think of the greats that have manned the position while wearing the Olde English D, there are really only 5 that truly stand out.
5. Cecil Fielder (1990-1996)
Fielder came to Detroit in 1990 via free agency after playing one season in Japan. His Detroit career started out with a bang, hitting 51 Home Runs and leading the league in RBI’s. He followed that up by hitting another 44 the following season, becoming the only Tiger since Hank Greenberg to hit 40 or more in consecutive seasons (now matched by Miguel Cabrera). Over his first three seasons with the Tigers, he led the league in RBI’s, becoming the first player since Babe Ruth to accomplish that feat. He was a three-time All-Star with Detroit and is part of the only father and son duo (Prince Fielder in 2007) to hit 50 or more home runs in a season. Fielder is also well known by many Tigers fans for one of the few people to hit a ball completely out and over the left-field roof.
4. Rudy York (1934, 1937-1945)
Rudy York started out his Tigers career bouncing from third base, to left field to catcher, and finally to first base. He ended up leaving his mark at first base because Detroit convinced Greenberg to switch positions to leftfield. In his first full season at first in 1940, York smashed 33 home runs and the Tigers lost the series to the Reds. Throughout his Tigers career he managed to hit 239 home runs and average 105 RBI’s per season while racking up MVP votes in 8 out of 9 seasons. York was finally let go by the Tigers after a dismal 1945 World Series against the Cubs.
3. Norm Cash (1960-1974)
Norm Cash came to Detroit via trade from the Cleveland Indians in 1960 and would haunt the Indians his entire career. Cash had 373 career home runs, second in Tigers history only to Al Kaline. He was considered one the best defensive first basemen throughout his career. He led the league in fielding percentage in 1964 and 1967. He has hit 4 baseballs out and over the right-field roof. While Cash was considered one of the best first basemen in the 1960’s he is still not in the Hall of Fame.
2. Hank Greenberg (1930, 1933-1941, 1945-1946)
Hank Greenberg was the face of the Tigers throughout the ’30s and is considered one of the greatest Tigers in their history. While Greenberg’s stats do not rank him on top in Tigers’ history, he took off 4 years to fight in World War II, a feat that deserves the utmost respect. He won 2 MVP awards, was a 5-time All-Star, 2 time World Series Champion, 4 AL home run champion, 4 time RBI champion, and a member of the 50 Home Run club. His number 5 is retired by Detroit and was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1956. Analysts predicted that if Greenberg did not serve in the military he would have hit 500 home runs and ended somewhere around 1,800 RBI’s.
1. Miguel Cabrera (2008-Present)
Miguel Cabrera is my number one Tiger first baseman of all time. In 2,474 career games (as of the publication of this list), Miggy has a career batting average of .312 while hitting 489 home runs and driving in 1,734 runs. Cabrera is an 11-time All-Star, has two MVP awards, and in 2012, he was accomplished the Triple Crown while leading the league in average, home runs, and RBIs. Miggy is not only one of the greatest Tigers of all-time, but when all is said and done, he will go down as one of the top right-handed hitters ever.