All-Time Detroit Tiger Pitching Rotation and Batting Order

In a world of computers and video games, what I am about to present is not so impossible.  I would love to see how this team stacks up against other all-time major league teams, like the A’s, Red Sox, Orioles, Yankees, White Sox, Cubs, Cardinals, and Dodgers.  Alas, I am not smart enough, nor do I have the time to program such a competition.

I will start with the pitching rotation, since that will be the shortest of the lists.  My first two starters were easy to select, and combined they offer a nasty 1-2, lefty-righty combo.  The first starter would be Hal Newhouser.  The ace of the staff in the 1940s, his numbers are easily the best on this team.  He can pitch long innings, strike out batters when he needs, and keep the score close.  Simply put, he is the best pitcher on this team.

The second pitcher would be Justin Verlander.  His 100 mph fastball, combined with his nasty curveball, make him the best of his generation.  He still has years to go to see if he can overtake Newhouser, but for now, he will do just fine as the number 2.

The third starter would be Tommy Bridges.  I love his consistency and grit.  He was a big game pitcher, and could also take games into late innings, without losing the ability to dominate.

The fourth starter would be Jack Morris.  His ability to rise to the occasion is well documented.  He was another durable, hard thrower who could carry a team on his back.

The fifth starter would be Denny McLain.  He was inconsistent, which is why he drops to the number five spot, but there is no doubt he was exceedingly talented.  When he was on, he could dominate.

That leaves Trout and Lary as long relievers, with Hiller and Hernandez closing games out.

Batting Order vs. Right-handed pitching

For the batting order, selecting the lead-off spot would be easy.  That would be Ty Cobb.  With his high average, and ability to get on base, combined with the base running skills he possessed, I can’t think of a more disruptive person to put in the one spot of any batting order.  He would cover center field.

For the second spot, I would want another left-handed hitter, who is patient at the plate, has decent speed on the bases, and can hit behind Cobb while setting up the big hitters.  Here is where I would place second baseman, Charlie Gehringer.  With his .355 average, penchant for hitting doubles, and ability to see a lot of pitches without striking out, he is a perfect number two hitter against right-handed pitching.  Plus, he would be a threat to score from first on a double from one of the following hitters.

Batting third would be the biggest power hitter of the order, playing first base – Hank Greenberg.  I would place him here, because of his ability to drive in runners.  Plus, I would want to give my most feared home run hitter the best protection available in the order.

Batting clean-up, and playing third base would be Miguel Cabrera.  He would force pitchers to throw to Greenberg, while also being in a position to drive in runs himself.  A clean-up hitter who can consistently bat .330, while hitting over 30 home runs is a rare luxury.

The five hitter might look a little unconventional, because he is not a twenty home run per year guy.  Still, with the ability to hit .400, and drive in over 100 runs, I have a hard time seeing anybody pitching around Cabrera to face Harry Heilmann.  I almost placed Slug in the number two spot in the order, because of his high average, but for this section I wanted Gehringer in the two spot because he is left-handed, quicker on the bases, and just as difficult to strike out as Heilmann.  Heilmann becomes an assassin in the fifth place of the order, though.

Batting sixth, in right field, would be Al Kaline.  Kaline also was a difficult strikeout, so even though he didn’t have the huge home run numbers of the others, with his ability to put the ball in play, hit for high average, and still knock his share out of the park, he is positioned well to continue to drive in runs, and protect Heilmann in the order.

Batting seventh, and playing shortstop, would be Alan Trammell.  He would provide protection for Kaline in the order with his ability to spray the ball to all fields, as well as his power potential.  With his speed on the base paths, he would also be disruptive at the bottom of the order, giving opportunities to the last two batters to drive him in.

Batting eight, in the second clean-up position, and playing catcher, is Lance Parrish.  With his power and ability to drive in runs, Parrish is a scary hitter to face in this position, especially with Kaline and Trammell, both possessing above average speed, ahead of him in the order.

Batting ninth, and setting the table to for top of the lineup, the DH, Sam Crawford.  Another line drive hitter, with great speed on the base paths, Crawford would be a dangerous hitter and runner ahead of Cobb.  He is also a very capable RBI hitter.

I feel this lineup provides an excellent combination of speed and power, with excellent contact hitters throughout.  The defense is solid as well, anchored by Parrish, Gehringer, Trammell, and Cobb up the middle.  The weakest defensive positions currently are left field and third base.  George Kell would make an adequate replacement at third, allowing Cabrera to move to first base in later innings, and Greenberg to switch to left field, if necessary.  Kirk Gibson provides great speed coming off the bench, as does Lou Whitaker.  Let me also say I would have no problem platooning Bill Freehan in at catcher; Parrish just has better home run potential which is why he was chosen.

Ty Cobb (L), CF
Charlie Gehringer (L), 2B
Hank Greenberg (R), 1B
Miguel Cabrera (R), 3B
Harry Heilmann (R), LF
Al Kaline (R), RF
Alan Trammell (R), SS
Lance Parrish (R), C
Sam Crawford (L), DH

Batting lineup vs. Left-handed pitching

There is only one player substitution change I would make to the lineup with a lefty on the mound, and that is in the DH position.  I would remove Sam Crawford, and place Rudy York in the lineup (I would consider Magglio Ordonez there, too, given his solid home run hitting ability and high average).  Here is how it would look:

Ty Cobb (L), CF
Harry Heilmann (R), LF
Hank Greenberg (R), 1B
Miguel Cabrera (R), 3B
Rudy York (R), DH
Al Kaline (R), RF
Charlie Gehringer (L), 2B
Lance Parrish (R), C
Alan Trammell (R), SS

I switched the number two hitter to Heilmann to give the advantage of having a right-handed hitter face a left-handed pitcher early in the line-up.  This would drop Gehringer down to the seven spot (after five righties in a row), allowing me to move the speedy Trammell to the ninth position.  Harvey Kuenn would be effective here too, but I keep Trammell in the lineup because he is faster, and a better defensive player.

I would move York to the five spot, because of his ability to hit for power.  His average is not as good as Kaline’s, but with Kaline following, York would still see good pitches, allowing me to take full advantage of his home run potential.  If I were to bat Ordonez in the DH spot, I would probably bat Kaline fifth, and Ordonez sixth, since Kaline has a little more power potential.   There really is no way to go wrong with a lineup like this, which is what makes it so fun to compile.

The last decision I would have to make is who would manage this team.  Based on history (3 pennants, and 1 World Series title), I would have to go with Mickey Cochrane.  His top two bench coaches would be Sparky Anderson and Jim Leyland.  Hughie Jennings, with his three pennants, would also be on this coaching staff, and he would cover as third-base coach while the Tigers were batting, because of his unique style with the offense..

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One thought on “All-Time Detroit Tiger Pitching Rotation and Batting Order

  1. An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a coworker who had been doing a little research on this. And he in fact ordered me lunch due to the fact that I discovered it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to discuss this matter here on your web page – All-Time Detroit Tiger Pitching Rotation and Batting Order | Chew ….

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