I like lists. I’m fairly sure most folks do, especially when it comes to baseball. Heck, the MLB Network spend the vast majority of the off-season airing shows that are really nothing more than lists. “Prime 9”, “Right Now” and “Greatest Games” are simply just lists of the greatest players, seasons, or games of whatever time period they’re using for purposes of the show. It’s frivolous, but it fills the dead air space during the winter. I mean really, how often can you tune in to hear what dumb thing Harold Reynolds is going to say next?
Well, consider this post the frivolous space-filler for today. Frankly, after three plus months of no games to discuss, material is running a tad thin around here. Time to get creative, I suppose. In going about quenching my thirst for interesting Tigers material, I began perusing the Tigers all-time statistical leaders list. I guess this isn’t a subjective list like the MLB Network is pushing, but there will be plenty of time to get into those here as well. In the meantime, let’s find out where some current Tigers rank among the franchise leaders. Perhaps we’ll find a player or two knocking on the door of some elite company.
Whenever you have a club that been in existence for 110 years, it’s not often that a new all-time leader will emerge in any given category. If this were a Marlins or Diamondbacks blog, we could make a post every month about how so and so became the franchise’s all-time leader in whatever category it was. Even the Padres, which have been around for over 40 years have some very reachable marks in a few categories, such as Nate Colbert with 168 career home runs- a franchise record.
But the Tigers have had more than their fair share of sluggers, base stealers, MVPs, and hitmen. It’s not easy to become the franchise leader in anything in Detroit, not when competing with names like Cobb, Greenberg, Cash, and Kaline. We did see Brandon Inge take over as Detroit’s all-time leader in career strikeouts last year, which is a dubious honor to be sure, but noteworthy none-the-less. We won’t see any of the major categories threatened this season, but there are a few players who can vault themselves up the leaderboards.
This Tigers team isn’t flush with base stealing threats. Rookie Austin Jackson lead the Tigers with 27 steals last year and there wasn’t anyone else close. No one is in any position to challenge Ty Cobb for the franchise record of 865 swiped bags, but did you know that the current active Tigers leader in that category is none other than Carlos Guillen? Guillen is currently tied for 41st in Tigers history with 58 career stolen bases. If he manages to swipe just one this year, he’ll move past Travis Fryman and Hall-of-Famer Hank Greenberg. Of course, Jackson is a threat to become the active Tigers base stealing leader, he’s just 31 behind Guillen. With Guillen’s surgically repaired knee keeping him on the shelf beyond opening day, Jackson could conceivably become the active leader this year. What’s more amazing is that despite his one season in Detroit, Jackson already ranks third in active career stolen bases, just 17 behind Inge for second place.
Inge’s is a name you’ll find all over the the all-time Tigers stats. He’s been a Tiger since 2002 and no active Tiger ahas played in more games for the franchise, gotten more hits, or scored more runs. Inge leads Magglio Ordonez by 123 hits, but Maggs should collect his 1000th career Tigers hit this season, he’s 95 hits away from that milestone. When he gets there, he’ll become just the 30th player in franchise history to reach that total with the club. If Guillen gets healthy sooner than expected (and stays that way) he could also get to 1000 hits as a Tiger, he’s just 130 away.
Guillen is also just 17 doubles behind Inge for the active lead. It doesn’t figure that Guillen will catch him if both players are healthy, but Carlos needs only 16 double this year to become the 27th player in club history with 200 career two-baggers. Again, when you consider the history of the Tigers, that’s pretty elite company. Ordonez is next in line; he’ll reach 200 Tiger doubles if he gets 24 this year. Only six runs batted in separate Inge from the top-20 in career Tigers RBI. He’ll pass Jim Northrup for 20th this year, but he won’t catch Kirk Gibson for 19th. Ordonez should join Inge in passing Northrup as well, he’s just 69 RBI behind.
Stolen bases and doubles are all well and good, but when it comes to discussing the big boys, home runs are still the glamor stat. Sure, enough, you’ll find Inge’s name once again at the top of the active leaders, but it won’t take long for Miguel Cabrera to pass him. Cabrera has 470 games with the Tigers over three seasons. That roughly one-third as many games as Inge has played. But Cabrera’s 109 Tigers home runs have him just 27 behind Inge. With his third long ball this year, Cabrera will pass Ty Cobb on the all-time list. I don’t care what the category is, when you pass Cobb on any list, that’s special. If Cabrera matches his 38 home runs from last season in 2011, he’ll move ahead of names like Tettleton, Evans, Stanley, Lemon, and Northrup. There have been only nine players to ever swat 200 home runs as a Tiger. At the rate he’s been going, Cabrera will become number ten sometime in early 2013.
On the pitching side, Justin Verlander needs only to reach 17 wins this year to become the 17th hurler in Tigers history with 100 career victories. Considering that he’s won at least 17 games in four of his five full seasons, he’s a good bet to get there. For reference, the Tigers all-time wins leader is Hooks Dauss, who won 223 contest for the Tigers. Verlander, should he stay healthy and remain a Tiger, is a real threat to become the franchise leader before his career ends.
There should also be some upheaval on the saves list. Despite his only being in Detroit for one year, Jose Valverde has already placed himself 20th in career saves (one spot ahead of Hal Newhouser) with 26 . If he saves 30 games this year, Valverde will pass a host of former Tigers and move into seventh place all-time. The list is a forgettable one for the most part, but it always fun to look back on guys like Matt Anderson, Juan Acevedo, and Ugueth Urbina.