The Detroit Tigers have one of the longest histories in all of Major League Baseball, with the franchise joining the American League of Baseball in 1901. Since then, the team has called the Motor City their home and since 2000 has played downtown at Comerica Park.
Throughout the years, the Tigers have had a long list of amazing talent, with strong representation in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Out of the many men that have worn the old English ‘D,’ though, which ones are the best of all time? Here are our picks for the top five Tigers in franchise history.
5. Alan Trammell
Alan Trammell isn’t just one of the greatest Detroit Tigers of all time, but he’s also one of the most beloved. A fan favorite during his time, Trammell is routinely coming back to Comerica Park to take in the sights and sounds with the franchise that made him a star. Trammell was a second-round draft selection by the Tigers in 1976, and he made his debut the following season.
Trammell played in 20 MLB seasons, all of which came in Detroit, between 1977 and 1996. During that time, Trammell posted a career batting average of .285 while hitting 185 home runs and knocking in over 1,000 runs. Trammell was named to six All-Star Teams while also winning four Gold Gloves and three Silver Sluggers, helping the Tigers win the 1984 World Series.
4. Lou Whitaker
You can’t talk about Alan Trammell without mentioning Lou Whitaker, with the two being teammates throughout almost their entire careers and best of friends. Whitaker was taken by the Tigers in the 1975 MLB Draft and made his debut in the same season as Trammell. The two were teammates all the way through the 1995 season, with Trammell playing just one more year than Sweet Lou.
Whitaker finished his 19-year-long career in Detroit with a .276 batting average, 244 home runs, and 1,084 runs batted in. Like Trammell, Whitaker also won his fair share of awards, including three Gold Gloves and four Silver Sluggers. Whitaker was named the 1978 Rookie of the Year and was selected to five All-Star Teams.
3. Charlie Gehringer
Charlie Gehringer was a Michigan man through and through, growing up in Fowlerville, Michigan, and attending the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Gehringer was signed by the Detroit Tigers after college and made his MLB debut in 1924. Though it would take a couple of years until he became a full-time player, Gehringer stuck around Detroit through his entire 19-year career.
Gehringer played all the way up to 1942, finishing his career with a .320 batting average and 184 home runs. He also knocked in 1,427 runs and won the league’s Most Valuable Player Award in 1937. The Hall of Famer won the 1935 World Series with the Tigers and was named to six All-Star Teams during his illustrious career.
2. Al Kaline
Every franchise has that certain player that’s nicknamed “Mr. ___”, and for the Detroit Tigers, that someone is Al Kaline. Kaline was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, but came to Detroit at 18 years old to start his professional career with the Tigers in 1953. The end result would be a 22-year career that was entirely spent in the Motor City, all the way through the 1974 season.
During that time, Kaline was named to the All-Star Team a whopping 18 times and was given the Gold Glove Award in 10 different seasons. Kaline achieved the milestone of going over 3,000 career hits with the Tigers and came up just one home run short of 400. In 1980, Kaline was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
1. Ty Cobb
Though his personal life was highly controversial, there’s no doubt that Ty Cobb was one of the best hitters in baseball history. In 1905, Cobb made his professional debut with the Tigers, and The Georgia Peach would spend 22 of his 24 MLB seasons in Detroit. Cobb had a record-setting .366 career batting average and knocked out 117 home runs.
At the time of his retirement, nobody in Major League history had more hits than Cobb, either. Of his 4,189 career hits, 3,900 of those came with Detroit. The one-time MVP had a total of 151.5 wins above replacement (WAR), which is still good enough for sixth all-time ahead of the likes of Hank Aaron, Roger Clemens and Stan Musial.