Friday, November 27, 2020

Tigers All Stars: 1920 - 1929


Hall of Fame outfielder Harry Heilmann appears to be throwing a ball off a stadium roof.  Who was the lucky fan?

(Photo credit: BaseballHall.org)


This week, I present the Detroit Tigers All Star team for the 1920-1929 decade.  All Star teams for previous decades are found below:


1901-1909

1910-1919


In each decade, I select nine position players, one for each position in the field plus one other hitter.  This ninth player could be a designated hitter, a multiple position player who didn't fit neatly into one position and/or the best hitter who didn't get selected as a position player.  I refer to this final hitter as the utility player.  Then I select five pitchers: four starters and one reliever.  In earlier decades when relievers were not frequently used, it will just be the fifth best starting pitcher.  


Some further general rules are as follows:

  • A player must have played at least half of his games with the Tigers at a given position or played that position more than any other position.  In rare cases, I might cheat a little bit if none of the players qualifying at a given position are any good at all and there is a superior player who played a good number of games at that position. 
  • A player must have played at least two full seasons with the Tigers, preferably at the assigned position. 
  • Only games played with the Tigers are considered. 
  • If a player played other positions with the Tigers besides his assigned position, his hitting performance in those games does count. 

Many statistics and sometimes, especially for fielding evaluation, anecdotal information will be considered.  For hitters, some of the statistics I consider are:

  • Games Played (G)
  • Plate Appearances (PA) 
  • Wins Above Replacement (Baseball-Reference WAR), 
  • Adjusted Batting Runs (ABR
  • Adjusted On Base Plus Slugging (OPS+)
The follow are among those I use for evaluating pitchers:

The Roaring Twenties was not a winning period for the Tigers who finished in the middle of the American League most years and extended their pennant drought to two decades.  Their best season was 1924 when they finished 86-68 and six games behind the pennant winning Washington Senators.  Much like the teens, the twenties featured explosive line-ups and porous pitching staffs.  The Tigers of 1920-1929 had a hard-hitting group of outfielders as they did in 1910-1919, but the twenties squads also had a catcher and some infielders who could hit.

The top five Tigers of 1920-1929 by Wins Above Replacement were:


Harry Heilmann 57

Ty Cobb 35

Johnny Bassler 21

Lu Blue  21

Hooks Dauss 18 (including 2 as batter)


The rest of the All Stars are shown in Tables 1 and 2 below and player profiles follow.


Table 1: Tigers All Star Position Players: 1920-1929


Pos

Player

From

To

G

PA

WAR

ABR

OPS+

C

Johnny Bassler

1921

1927

767

2,770

21

55

106

1B

Lu Blue

1921

1927

925

4,133

21

81

110

2B

Charlie Gehringer

1924

1929

578

2,529

15

55

116

SS

Topper Rigney

1922

1925

493

2,006

11

23

105

3B

Marty McManus

1927

1929

401

1,660

7

0

102

LF

Bobby Veach

1920

1923

573

2,409

16

73

123

CF

Ty Cobb

1920

1926

877

3,830

35

253

148

RF

Harry Heilmann

1920

1929

1,417

6,115

57

457

156

UT

Bob Fothergill

1922

1929

747

2,540

13

82

125

 

Table 2: Tigers All Star Pitchers: 1920-1929


Pos

Player

From

To

G

IP

WAR

PR

ERA+

SP

Hooks Dauss

1920

1926

269

1,522

16

16

104

SP

Earl Whitehill

1923

1929

224

1,435

15

15

102

SP

Rip Collins

1923

1927

137

742

6

4

105

SP

Herman Pillette

1922

1924

106

563

6

21

114

RP

Ownie Carroll

1925

1929

109

645

7

10

107

 


Player Profiles


C Johnny Bassler


Bassler was strong both offensively and defensively and was ranked by Bill James as the 47th best catcher all time (The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract).  He had 7 seasons of 2 WAR or better including 1924 when he hit .346/.441/.422.  He had an on-base percentage of .400 or better in each of his seven seasons with the Tigers. 

 

The left-handed batting backstop's .416 lifetime On-Base Percentage was second all-time to Mickey Cochrane (.419) among Major League catchers.  


While he was an on-base machine, Bassler had no power, hitting just one home run in over 2,866 MLB plate appearances.  The only other players with just one homer in over 2,500 plate appearances were infielders Floyd Baker, Duane Kuiper and Emil Verban.    


1B Lu Blue


Like Bassler, Blue had little home run power, but had a propensity to get on base posting on-base percentages of .400 or better five times with the Tigers.  The switch-hitting first sacker was also a model of consistency with the following WAR totals from 1921-1926: 2.9, 3.6, 3.3, 3.3, 3.7, 2.8.  Blue was also known to be a smooth defender and was a speedy base runner for a catcher reaching double figures in stolen bases most years. 

 

Blue hit better in the majors than the minors to which he gave credit to Tigers manager Ty Cobb (Court Vitty, SABR.org).  Through Cobb, Blue learned about pitch sequencing which allowed him to anticipate pitches based on counts.  He quickly gained tremendous strike zone judgement and selectivity and walked over 100 times in four years during his career.  


2B Charlie Gehringer


Hall of Famer Charlie Gehringer was nicknamed The Mechanical Man by Yankees hurler Lefty Gomez because "you just wind him up on opening day and forget him".  Gehringer wasn't flashy but was one of the greatest second basemen in the history of the game.  The left-handed batting second baseman did not peak until the 1930s, but was still a star in the latter part of the twenties averaging 125 OPS+ and 4.7 WAR between 1927-1929.  


Like many Tigers of the early eras, Gehringer's relationship with Ty Cobb was strained: "Cobb was a hateful guy. Nobody liked him as a manager. He was such a great player himself, he figured that if he told you something, there was no reason why you couldn’t do it as well as he did. But a lot of guys don’t have that ability. He couldn’t understand that...But he was super for the first couple years I was up. Golly, he was like a father to me...Then all of a sudden he got upset with me about something. To this day I don’t know what it was. He would hardly speak to me. He wouldn’t even tell me what signs I was going to get from the coaches. Weird. But he kept playing me, so it didn’t really matter whether he talked to me or not.” (Richard Bak, Cobb Would have Caught it via SABR.org)


SS Topper Rigney


Emory Elmor Rigney played only three full seasons, but was one of the Tigers best offensive shortstops.  He posted an OPS+ of 108 from 1922-1924.  His best season was 1924 when he registered a 113 OPS+ and 4.6 WAR.  It is unknown where the "Topper" nickname originated, but the five-foot-nine-inch Rigney was also referred to as "midget"  - although 5'9" was not especially short for the time - and "trim" (Bill Nowlin, SABR.org).  


Rigney reportedly signed with the Tigers in 1917 but he went into the Navy and the Tigers forgot about the agreement (Imagine that happening today!).  Owner Frank Navin came across the contract in 1920 and immediately contacted Rigney (SanD Diego Union, March 13, 1920)


3B Marty McManus


McManus was a decent glove man who averaged 104 OPS+ and 2.3 WAR between 1927-1929. It was difficult to choose between Marty McManus and Fred Haney, but McManus' 1930 season, just one year outside the decade window, broke the tie.  The St. Louis native hit for a 118 OPS+ and contributed 4.4 WAR that year. 

 

Not many players have been as enthused about being traded to the Tigers as McManus.  In a Detroit Free Press article dated January 29, 1927, McManus was reportedly "unmistakably pleased with the trade that freed him of his contractual obligations to the St. Louis (Browns) club and would repay the Detroit club for rendering him a service by playing his head off for manager Moriarty...Detroit has always appealed to him as a baseball town.  For the past two years, McManus figured in rumors of a trade that would land him in this city, but always, until the exchange was completed, Marty merely had lived on hopes" (Newspapers.com).   

  

LF Bobby Veach  


According to Bob O'Leary (SABR.com), Bobby "Veach was known to be easy going, steady and unassuming, characteristics that put him in stark contrast to, and at times at odds with, the volatile Ty Cobb who played next to him. At five feet 11 inches and a slim 165 pounds, Veach was small for a power hitter, but as baseball writer Fred Lieb noted, he 'packed a terrific punch for his size.'" 

The Tigers outfielder peaked in the teens, but still had a lot left in the first part of the twenties decade averaging 125 OPS+ between 1920-1922.  In those three years, he finished in the top ten in doubles (116), triples (41) and total bases (903).  He also finished in the top ten in doubles and total bases every year from 1915-1922.  


CF Ty Cobb


Hall of Fame outfielder Ty Cobb makes his third decade All Star team as he finished off his long career in the twenties.  Cobb was 33 years old entering the decade, but he was far from done. The legendary Cobb batted .361 with a 148 OPS+ from 1920-1926 and also managed the Tigers from 1921-1925.  He did not add to his 11 batting titles, but he finished in the top ten in batting every year from 1920-1925. He batted .338 in 1926, but did not have enough plate appearances to qualify.  He led the league with a 171 OPS+ at age 38 in 1925. 


RF Harry Heilmann


Hall of Fame slugger Harry Heilmann's career was overshadowed by Cobb, but he was an amazing hitter in his own right.  He had a particularly remarkable stretch from 1921-1927 batting .380 with a 167 OPS+ including four batting titles (all in odd numbered years):


1921 .394
1923 .403
1925 .393
1927 .398


Heilmann ranked high among all MLB players in most offensive categories from 1920-1929 including:


WAR 57 (1st)

ABR 452 (3rd)

BA .364 (2nd)

OPS+ 156 (5th)


UT Fats Fothergill


The five-foot ten-inch, 230-pound Bob Fothergill was given the unflattering nickname "fats" or "fatty" early in his career.  Despite his size, Fothergill was fairly athletic with decent speed and a strong arm, although not a smooth fielder.  Most of all though, Fothergill was a skilled batsman averaging 135 OPS+ and 2.9 WAR from 1926-1929.


The right-handed batting Fothergill was a free spirit with a flair for showmanship that helped earn him the name, “The People’s Choice,” from fans in Detroit.  “Fothergill doesn’t go into a base upright if he can help it,” wrote Bud Shaver in the Detroit Times, “for that would mean the elimination of his swan-diving slide, and such a thing would be unthinkable. Robert is too much the artiste to be this callous to his public.”  ( via Richard Bak, VintageDetroit.com). 

 

In another instance, Fothergill once dido a front flip landing on his feet on the plate after rounding the bases for a home run (Bob Nowlin,SABR.org).

      

SP Hooks Dauss


At 5-10 and 168 pounds, George August Dauss was once deemed too small to be a major league pitcher.  That didn't stop him from pitching 3,390 innings over 15 seasons and becoming the all-time Tigers leader in wins (223).  He was nicknamed Hooks or Hookie for his signature curveball (Bob O'Leary, SABR).


At first glance, Dauss appeared to be a much better pitcher in the teens than the twenties with a 2.85 ERA in the former and 3.86 in the latter.  However, that was a reflection of the difference in the game between the dead-ball and live-ball eras.  His ERA+ was actually lower in the teens than the twenties (101 versus 104).


SP Earl Whitehill


Whitehill was never an elite pitcher, but he finished two WAR or higher eight of his ten years in Detroit.  His best season was 1927 when he posted a 125 ERA+ in 236 innings. A popular tale suggests that Earl's wife Violet Oliver was the original model for the Sunmaid Raisins "maiden".  Is it true? Bill Johnson of SABR writes that the rumor has been debunked by the company.  It's still a good story though. 

 

SP Rip Collins


The pickings get slim after Dauss and Whitehill as the Tigers lacked pitchers with sustained success in the 1920s.  Harry Warren Collins should not be confused with the somewhat more famous Ripper Collins, a first baseman in the National League in the 1930s.  Collins, the pitcher, worked from 1923-1927 achieving a 105 ERA+ in 742 innings.  The only time he reached 200 innings with the Tigers was in 1924 when had a 128 ERA+ in 216 innings, good for seventh in the American League. 

 

The Weatherford, Texas native was nicknamed "Rip" after a pre-Prohibition brand of whiskey.  He was a drinking man that enjoyed the night life perhaps more than the game.  He was described as a man with a million dollar arm and 25 cents worth of enthusiasm (Baseball: The Biographical Encyclopedia)


SP Herman Pillette


Pillette's Major League career, all with the Tigers but for one inning with the Reds in 2017, was limited to just 564 innings.  His best season in 1922 was also the top season in terms of WAR (5.8) for a Tigers starting pitcher in the decade.  He worked 275 innings that year and posted 2.85 ERA which was second best in the American League.  He was not same after that season and suffered a sore arm in 1924 which ended his Major League career.  


The end of Pillette's Major League career was not the end of his professional career by any means.  He continued to pitch the next 21 years in the Pacific Coast League throwing his last pitch at 49 years old.  Back tracking his career to 1917, he pitched a total of 29 professional seasons!  


RP Ownie Carroll 


Relievers gained in popularity in the 1920, but they were still largely pitchers who were weren't effective enough to be starters and were not typically used in high leverage spots. Lil Stoner had an all star name and a great story, but he wasn't good at all.  So, I selected Ownie Carroll although he was primarily a starter.  He also has a pretty good name.  Ownie's best season was in 1928 when he finished sixth in the American League in WAR (5.1) and ninth in ERA (3.27). 


Carroll does not have much of a story, so let's talk about The Lil Stoner.  Ulysses Simpson Grant Stoner had brothers named Benjamin Franklin Stoner, William McKinley Stoner and Theodore Roosevelt Stoner (Bob Hurte, SABR.org). His little brother Ted (Theodore Roosevelt) could not pronounce "Ulysses" and he called him "Lil" which led to his nickname.  


Lil's older brother Mac (William McKinley) nearly chopped off Lil's finger with a hatchet when Lil was a toddler.  It eventually reattached itself but became permanently crooked which probably helped him with the movement of his pitches.


Sunday, November 22, 2020

Tigers All Stars: 1910 - 1919

 


Ty Cobb, Bobby Veach and Sam Crawford comprised one of the best outfields in baseball history.


This is my second installment in my series of Detroit Tigers All Star Teams by decade.  The first post is found below:


1901-1909


In each decade, I select nine position players, one for each position in the field plus one other hitter.  This ninth player could be a designated hitter, a multiple position player who didn't fit neatly into one position and/or the best hitter who didn't get selected as a position player.  I refer to this final hitter as the utility player.  Then I select five pitchers: four starters and one reliever.  In earlier decades when relievers were not frequently used, it will just be the fifth best starting pitcher.  


Some further general rules are as follows:

  • A player must have played at least half of his games with the Tigers at a given position or played that position more than any other position.  In rare cases, I might cheat a little bit if none of the players qualifying at a given position are any good at all and there is a superior player who played a good number of games at that position. 
  • A player must have played at least two full seasons with the Tigers, preferably at the assigned position. 
  • Only games played with the Tigers are considered. 
  • If a player played other positions with the Tigers besides his assigned position, his hitting performance in those games does count. 

Many statistics and sometimes, especially for fielding evaluation, anecdotal information will be considered.  Some of the key measures are listed in the link above for 1901-1909.


After winning three consecutive American League pennants from 1907-1909, the Tigers dropped to third place in 1910 and won no titles during 1910-1919.  They did come close in 1915 when they 100 games finishing second one game behind the Boston Red Sox.  The Tigers' second decade featured an impressive group of outfielders which powered them to the top of the league offensively most seasons.  Unfortunately, they lacked pitching to go with it.  


One way to look at the top offensive contributors over a time period is the Adjusted Batting Runs (ABR) statistic.  It was first introduced in the Hidden Game of Baseball by John Thorn and Pete Palmer in 1984.  It is the estimated runs a player added to his team's offense over an average player.  The Top five in the decade for the Tigers are listed below.
  
Ty Cobb 560
Sam Crawford 204
Bobby Veach 158
Harry Heilmann 58
Jim Delahanty 54

Ty Cobb was the clear leader with more than twice as many as Sam Crawford.  The top four were primarily outfielders followed by second baseman Jim Delahanty.  Most of the rest of the team was comprised of defense first players. The All Stars are listed in Tables 1 and 2 below.  Their stories follow. 
 

Table 1: Tigers All Star Position Players: 1910-1919


Pos

Player

From

To

G

PA

WAR

ABR

OPS+

C

Oscar Stanage

1910

1919

937

3,311

4

-120

68

1B

George Burns

1914

1917

496

1,956

6

1

101

2B

Jim Delahanty

1910

1912

329

1,395

7

54

130

SS

Donie Bush

1910

1919

1,449

6,590

31

-21

91

3B

Ossie Vitt

1912

1918

767

3,275

13

-33

86

LF

Bobby Veach

1912

1919

1,031

4,388

30

158

134

CF

Ty Cobb

1910

1919

1,334

5,815

84

560

192

RF

Sam Crawford

1910

1917

1,076

4,473

30

204

143

UT

Harry Heilmann

1914

1919

573

2,280

11

58

125

 

Table 2: Tigers All Star Pitchers: 1910-1919


Pos

Player

From

To

G

IP

WAR

PR

ERA+

SP

Hooks Dauss

1912

1919

269

1,869

21

5

101

SP

Harry Coveleski

1914

1918

157

1,023

16

50

123

SP

Bernie Boland

1915

1919

198

1,017

14

4

96

SP

Jean Dubuc

1912

1916

184

1,145

9

-9

98

RP

Ed Willett

1910

1913

146

982

9

-8

99


Player Profiles

C. Oscar Stanage

Like many catchers of the dead-ball era, Stanage was a light hitter with a 68 OPS+ during the decade.  He made up for his batting deficiencies with excellent receiving and a stellar arm.  He had 212 assists in 1911, an American League record for catchers that still stands today (Baseball Almanac).  The Tulare, California native was also very durable catching 560 games between 1911-1915 which was 125 more games than any American League catcher during the period (Jim Moyes, Society for American Baseball Research).

In a 1917 Spring training game, Ty Cobb brawled with brash Giants second baseman Buck Herzog and Herzog challenged Cobb to a follow-up fight after the game (Wahoosam.net).  They would meet in a hotel room and each could choose a teammate which would ensure that the fight was fair and would step in if things got out of hand.  Herzog chose third baseman Heinie Zimmerman and Cobb selected Stanage.  Cobb and Stanage were not friends but this was something that was hard for the catcher to turn down.  It turned out that Stanage was not needed as it was Zimmerman who stopped the fight when Cobb was pummeling Herzog.  

1B. George Burns

"Tioga" George's best season in Detroit was his rookie season in 1914 when he amassed 3.3 WAR and posted a 119 OPS+.  After four years with the Bengals, he was sold after the 1917 season to the Yankees who immediately traded him to the Athletics for outfielder Ping Bodie.  Both the Tigers and Yankees probably regretted the deal when the first sacker had a 5.9 WAR in 1918, good for second in the American League.  

The nickname "Tioga" was acquired early on due to the fact that he grew up in Tioga, Pennsylvania.  The name stuck in the majors as it distinguished him from another George Burns, a slightly more famous National League outfielder (Joseph Wancho, Society for American Baseball Research).

2B. Jim Delahanty

Jim Delahanty was the second best (to Ed) of five Delahanty Brothers who played in the majors.  He only played 329 games with the Tigers during the decade and was a poor defender but wins the All Star honor with his 129 OPS+.  He had the best year of his 13-season MLB career in 1911 when batted .339/.411/.463 with a 139 OPS+.  

Delahanty also hit well in 1912 posting a 116 OPS+, but was released after the season.  The reason given by the Tigers was poor health, but it may have been the result of his leadership in the famous one-day team strike in response to a Ty Cobb suspension for attacking a fan early in the season (John Saccoman, Society for American Baseball Research).

SS. Donie Bush

According to the Biographical Encyclopedia of Baseball, Bush spent 65 years in organized ball as a player, manager, scout and owner.  That's a lot of baseball - from the first decade of the American League's existence to the early 1970's or from Ty Cobb to Marvin Lane.  He played more games at shortstop (1,867) than any Tiger other than Trammell and had some excellent individual seasons exceeding 5+ WAR four times.  While his best season was 1909 (6.5 WAR), Bush's best decade was 1910-1919 when he played 1,449 games and accumulated 31 WAR.  

3B. Ossie Vitt

Vitt was regarded as a weak hitter and slick defender during his ten year career with the Tigers and Red Sox.  His best year in Detroit was in 1915 when he had 4.5 WAR and a 100 OPS+.  Overall, the right-handed batter hit just three home runs and had a 84 OPS+ in 767 games with the Tigers.  However, according to Michael Humpreys in Wizardry, Vitt saved 46 runs defensively over an average third baseman during his career.  

LF. Bobby Veach

According to Fred Lieb in The Detroit Tigers, Bobby Veach "was a happy-go-lucky guy, not too brilliant above the ears...He was as friendly as a Newfoundland pup with opponents as well as teammates."  He was also the best left fielder in Tigers history amassing 4 WAR or higher 7 times and finishing in the top ten in OPS and slugging five times. His best season was 1919 when he had 6.7 WAR and a 158 OPS+.  In the Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, James rated the 1915 trio of Veach, Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford as the best single-season outfield in baseball history     

CF. Ty Cobb

Cobb's name has come up in practically every search for every player in this Tigers All Star series so far and sometimes I have excluded him to prevent over kill.  As you have undoubtedly seen, often times a player's association with the legendary outfielder has been a negative one.  However, there is no denying his absolute dominance as a hitter during this decade.  He batted .387 for the entire decade! His OPS+ was 192 for the entire decade!  He led the lead in batting nine years and OPS+ eight years.  

Take a look at the Batting Runs leaders for the decade:

Ty Cobb 560
Tris Speaker 443
Shoeless Joe Jackson 382
Eddie Collins 357

All four were elite hitters and played all ten years, but they came nowhere close to The Georgia Peach.

RF. Sam Crawford 

While overshadowed by Cobb, Crawford also had a fantastic decade for the Tigers. In the previous post, I mentioned that Crawford was a power hitter, who played in the wrong era.  Instead of belting home runs, the right-handed slugger was a triples machine hitting 135 three baggers in eight years for an average of 17 per year.  He also led the league in triples four times including 26 in 1914.  

Wahoo ranked high in several offensive categories during the decade:

135 triples (3rd)
459 slugging (7th)
204 Batting Runs (7th)
143 OPS+ (7th)

UT. Harry Heilmann

In 1913, according to Baseball: The Biographical Encyclopedia by David Pietrusza, et al, Harry Heilmann was a 19-year-old bookkeeper for a San Francisco biscuit company.  On the way home from work one day, he ran into a friend who asked him to fill in for a sick player on a local semi-pro team.  A scout for the Class B Northwestern League's Portland Colts was in the crowd that day and signed Heilmann to a professional contract (with a bonus of a spaghetti dinner) two days later.  At the end of the season, Detroit purchased his contract and he was on his way to a Hall of Fame career.  Harry was a long-time Tiger as a player and broadcaster staying with the organization through 1950.  Slug was slow in the field and on the bases, but he was a gifted hitter batting .342 with a 148 OPS+ lifetime.

Heilmann put up a solid 125 OPS+ for the decade as an outfielder and first baseman.  This was just the beginning though as the best was yet to come.  I'll say more about Heilmann in the 1920-1929 installment of this series.  

SP. Hooks Dauss

At 5-10 and 168 pounds, George August Dauss was once deemed too small to be a major league pitcher.  That didn't stop him from pitching 3,390 innings over 15 seasons and becoming the all-time Tigers leader in wins (223).  He was nicknamed Hooks or Hookie for his signature curveball (Bob O'Leary, SABR)

SP. Harry Coveleski

Harry should not be confused with his Hall-of-fame brother Stan, but he was quite successful in his short career.  He pitched only three full seasons with the Tigers, but he packed a lot into those years.  The southpaw hurler threw 1,023 innings from 1914-1916 posting an ERA+ of 123 with 16 WAR.  

SP. Bernie Boland

Boland pitched more as a reliever than a starter from 1915-1916, but was a regular in the rotation from 1917-1919 registering a 101 ERA+ in 684 innings.  Baseball writer H.G. Salsinger wrote that the five-foot eight-inch right-hander was known for his curve ball: "Bernie Boland had a swell curveball.  He did not use it as frequently as George Dauss, but for two years he was reputed to have the best curveball in the league.  Babe Ruth always said that Boland had one of the greatest curveballs ever pitched".   

SP. Jean Dubuc

Dubuc was in the Tigers starting rotation from 1912-1915 and part of 1916.  His best season was 1912 when he had 4.4 WAR and a 1.18 ERA+.  "Chauncey was also decent hitter for a pitcher batting .244 in 606 plate appearances for the Tigers.  

Dubuc was banned from baseball for life because he had advanced knowledge of the Black Sox scandal (Guy Waterman, Tom Simon, SABR.org) while playing for the Giants during 1919.  He left the country and ended up playing organized ball unnoticed in Canada in 1922.

After his playing career, the Vermont native became a scout for the Tigers and was responsible for signing the great Hank Greenberg.  

RP. Ed Willett

Robert Edgar Willett had a non-descript but solid career with the Tigers between 1906-1913.  His best season in the 1910-1919 decade was in 1910 when he posted a 111+ in 224 innings.  "The Farmer" apparently liked to pitch inside as he finished in the top ten in hits batsmen six times.    

Willett was not an especially good hitter, but he hit two home runs in one game on June 30, 1912 versus the White Sox.   

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