Sunday, April 05, 2015

Herndon, Trammell Among Tigers' Best Opening Day Hitters

 Larry Herndon was an excellent opening day performer for the Tigers from 1982-1987
(Photo credit:
Instead of doing another opening day preview, I decided to look back at previous opening days.  With the help of the Retrosheet play-by-play database, I was able to summarize data from Tigers opening days from 1950-2014.  For the purpose of this post, opening day means first game of the season as opposed to first home game.  The Tigers opening day batting leaders are shown in Table 1 below.  Here are some of the highlights:
  • Hall of Famer Al Kaline played in more opening days (21) than any other Tiger.  He did not perform particularly well in those game though posting a .210/.333/.321 line.
  • Shortstop Alan Trammell led all Tigers with 19 hits and 9 extra base hits in 16 opening days. 
  •  Nine Tigers played in 10 or more opening days, the most recent being Brandon Inge.  Inge had a .934 OPS and his 8 RBI is third highest on the team.  
  • Outfielders Kirk Gibson and Dmitri Young each had three opening day home runs.  Young, of course, hit all three in the same game in 2005. 
  • The best opening day slugger might have been right-handed hitting Larry Herndon who had 11 hits, including six for extra bases in six openers.  He had at least one hit in every game from 1982-1987 and multiple hits in four games.  
  • The worst hitter might have been outfielder Jim Northrup with just three hits and a .346 OPS in nine openers. 
           Table 1: Detroit Tigers Opening Day Batting Leaders, 1950-2014

Kaline 21
Whitaker 17
Trammell 16
Trammell 19
Kaline 17
Whitaker, Cash 12
Gibson 3
Young 3
Many tied with 2
Trammell 33
Kaline 26
Herndon 22
Trammell 10
Kaline 9
Inge 8
Trammell 13
Kaline 8
Whitaker 8
Herndon .440
Boone .412
Easley .407
Boone .500
Herndon .481
Fryman .452
Herndon .880
Boone .765
Young .762
Herndon 1.361
Stanley 1.265
Young 1.126

              Data source:

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