Sunday, August 31, 2008

Best seasons for Tigers position players

About a week ago, I listed the top seasons for Tigers rookie position players. Today, I'm looking at the best years of all time using the same criteria as I did for rookies. The top 16 are presented in Table 1 below. Remember that position and how well a player fielded his position count for a lot. Thus, players like Charlie Gehringer and Alan Trammell appear prominently on the list and a player like Harry Heilmann drops down a little from where his batting statistics would put him.

Table 1: Top 16 seasons for Tigers position players

Rank

Player

Year

Pos

PA

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS+

RCAA

WS

1

Ty Cobb

1911

OF

654

.420

.467

.621

193

119

47

2

Norm Cash

1961

1B

672

.361

.487

.662

197

113

42

3

Ty Cobb

1917

OF

669

.383

.444

.570

210

99

46

4

Ty Cobb

1910

OF

591

.383

.456

.551

202

97

45

5

Ty Cobb

1912

OF

609

.409

.456

.584

203

100

40

6

Charlie Gehringer

1934

2B

708

.356

.450

.517

149

64

37

7

Alan Trammell

1987

SS

668

.343

.402

.551

157

64

35

8

Charlie Gehringer

1936

2B

731

.354

.431

.555

141

65

34

9

Ty Cobb

1915

OF

700

.369

.486

.487

182

84

48

10

Ty Cobb

1909

OF

651

.377

.431

.517

190

88

44

11

Harry Heilmann

1923

OF

626

.403

.481

.632

195

96

35

12

Hank Greenberg

1938

1B

681

.315

.438

.683

167

86

34

13

Hank Greenberg

1935

1B

710

.328

.411

.628

171

79

34

14

Magglio Ordonez

2007

OF

678

.363

.434

.595

167

72

36

15

Harry Heilmann

1927

OF

596

.398

.475

.616

180

78

32

16

Bill Freehan

1968

C

635

.263

.366

.454

143

35

35


Notes:

Ty Cobb (1911, 1917, 1910, 1912, 1915, 1909)

Six of the top 16 seasons belonged to Cobb and a case could could be made for even more than that. It was difficult to choose Cobb's number one season but I went with 1911 because he created more runs above average (119) than any other season. He also had his highest batting average (.420) , slugging average (.621) and runs created per game (15.2) that year. In all six listed seasons, he led the league in batting average and OPS. For his career, he lead the league in batting 12 times, slugging 7 times and OPS 9 times.

Norm Cash (1961)

The 26 year old Cash led the league in batting (.361) and OPS (1.148) in 1961. That was the only season in the top five that didn't belong to Cobb. Although Cash had a solid 17 year career, he never came close to matching those numbers again.

Charlie Gehringer (1934, 1936)

Gehringer led the league in batting (.356), runs (134) and finished second in OBP (.450) and doubles (50) on a pennant winning team in 1934. His 1936 season was very similar. He was the MVP in 1937 but his 52 runs created above average that year didn't quite make the cut. He was also a very solid defensive second baseman throughout his career.

Alan Trammell (1987)

Trammell should have won the MVP but it was inexplicably awarded to George Bell. The Tigers shortstop finished third in batting (.343), second in runs created (137) and sixth in OPS (.957). He was also a strong defender on a division winning team.

Harry Heilmann (1923, 1927)

Heilmann led the league in batting (.403) and finished second in OBP (.481) and slugging (.632) in 1923. In 1927, he was first in batting (.398) second in OBP (.475) and 4th in slugging (.616). His 1921 and 1925 seasons were also in the running for inclusion on this list. By most accounts, Heilmann was a weak defensive player and that hurt him somewhat in the rankings.

Hank Greenberg (1938, 1935)

In 1938, Greenberg finished first in homers (58), and second in sugging (.683), runs created (164) and OPS+ (167). In 1935, he led the league in runs created (159) and won the MVP for a championship team. Greenberg is another batter who almost appeared on this list more often. He won an MVP in 1940 and his 183 RBI in 1937 is still the third highest total in major league history.

Magglio Ordonez (2007)

Ordonez had the best offensive season for a Tiger in 46 years leading the league in batting (.363) and doubles (54), finishing third in runs created (152) and fourth in OPS (1.029).

Bill Freehan (1968)

This was going to be a top 15 list but I wanted to include Freehan and I couldn't bump any of the other seasons to fit him. Considering that it was the year of the pitcher and that great offensive seasons for catchers are rare, his 1968 season was truly remarkable. He finished in the top ten in OBP (.366), slugging (.454), OPS (.820), home runs (25), RBI (84) and runs created (94). He was also probably the best defensive catcher in the league.

6 comments:

  1. Lee, As usual another interesting and informative read. You do a great job of posting terrific reads on our Tigers. I was wondering where Kaline's 1955,'56, and '59 seasons ranked.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The 1955 season is probably in the top 20. The 1959 season was up there too but he missed some time that year. Kaline would probably appear quite a bit on a top 50 list. He had a lot of very good seasons but never had that one special season that puts him in the elite group. Plus, some of his best seasons - like 1967 - were cut short by injury.

    Lee

    ReplyDelete
  3. That was the only problem for Al during his career. After the 55 and 56 seasons, the only other time he played in over 150 games was 1961. Always some injury that kept him out of the lineup for 15-20 to 50-60 games. The '59 season he had the fractured cheekbone on a wild throw throw by second baseman billy gardner to first on a ground out . '62 the broken collar bone on a game saving catch on may 26. Kaline would have had a 40 homer season and had 29 in exactly 100 games. '63 lingering thigh and hip injury he stopped with 2 or 3 weeks left in the season. '67 is the year he broke his hand slamming the bat in the bat rack after a strikeout, '68 a broken arm on a pitch from lew krausse. Those years were all still excellent, but cost Al in those 30 homer and 100 rbi 100 runs scored seasons. I figured Kaline missed around 350 to 400 total games from those serious injuries. Still a great great player, as are many of those Tigers in the chart. Thanks Lee

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