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 seasons can be found here.
The 1915 season would be the first of five 100-win seasons for the Tigers. They went 100-54 with a .649 winning percentage which was the second highest in franchise history. Unfortunately, they finished in second place, two and one half game behind the Boston Red Sox. It was a battle between Detroit's batting and Boston's pitching and it was the Red Sox pitching which won out at the end.
In the early decades, the Tigers had some of the best outfields in the history of baseball and 1915 was one of their best. The trio of Ty Cobb, Sam Crawford and Bobby Veach led the league in almost every offensive category. Cobb was tops in batting average (.369), OBP (.486), OPS+ (182), total bases (274), runs (144) and stolen bases (96). Crawford led in RBI (112), triples (19) and was second in total bases (264). Bobby Veach lead the circuit with 40 doubles and finished in the top three in total bases and RBI. The Tigers easily led the American League with 778 runs scored.
The Tigers two top pitchers were Harry Coveleski (124 ERA+ in 313 innings) and Hooks Dauss (121 ERA+ in 309 innings). They would be no match for the Red Sox staff which had fiver starers with ERA+ of 114 or better. One of those pitchers was a 20 year old rookie name George Herman Ruth who also had a 188 OPS+ in 103 plate appearances.
They fell short, but it was a good year for the Tigers. They wouldn't see another one like it for a couple of decades.
Some of data for this article were gathered from Baseball-Reference.com and Retrosheet.org