In reviewing the history of the Detroit Tigers, I often think about the best seasons to be a Tigers fan. So, I am writing a series of posts listing the top 20 seasons in Tigers history. There is no specific formula for determining the best seasons, but there are some criteria which I consider carefully. Playoff appearances, especially those leading to world championships are, of course, important. Team dominance as measured by winning percentage and run differential also carries a lot of weight.
While most of the teams on the list did win a lot of games, this is
not simply a ranking of the best teams statistically. Sometimes, a
non-winning season stands out because of great individual achievements
or because the team was unique in some way. I wanted every decade to
be represented and since the Tigers have had a couple of poor decades,
this was a challenge. However, the Tigers have managed to put
together at least one campaign each decade which was memorable even if
it was not a great year in terms of wins and losses and some of those
seasons will also be included.
The entire list of 20 season can be found here.
After very successful runs in the 1930s and 1940s, Tigers fans anticipated another entertaining ten years in the 1950s. It didn't work out as they had hoped, but the decade did get of to a good start. In 1950, they went 95-59 for a .617 winning percentage, the seventh best in franchise history.
The Tigers roared out of the gate and were 54-27 with a 4 1/2 game lead on July 17. They stayed in first most of the summer, but the Yankees caught them by September. In one of the closest pennant races ever, the Bengals and Bronx Bombers exchanged the league lead eight times in September. unfortunately, the Tigers went 7-9 including 1-5 versus the Indians down the stretch and finished in second place, three behind the Yankees.
Detroit had a well balanced team which outscored opponents by 124 runs (837 to 713). Third baseman George Kell had arguably his best season batting .340 with a league-leading 218 hits and 56 doubles. Center fielder Hoot Evers led the team with a 141 OPS+ and finshed third in the AL with a .551 slugging percentage. Right fielder Vic Wertz also had a fine season batting .308 with a 137 OPS+.
The Tigers fiinshed second in the AL with a 4.12 ERA as five starters had ERA+ of 106 or better. Right-hander Art Houtteman had his finest season finishing in the top five in the AL in wins (19), innings (275), ERA (3.54) and complete games (21).
After their strong first season, The Tigers would not win more than 82 games again during the decade.
Some of data for this article were gathered from Baseball-Reference.com and Retrosheet.org