Detroit Tigers Opening Day Countdown: 10 Days


We’re continuing the countdown to opening day with only ten days remaining. Here’s a look at the topics that the countdown has addressed so far:

15 Days: Number of Ryan Raburn Home Runs in 2010
14 Days: Number of Tiger Cards Released with the Topps Base Set in 2003
13 Days: Number of Starts Jacob Turner made for Lakeland in 2010
12 Days: Number of Playoff Appearances in Franchise History
11 Days: Number of Tiger Rookie Debuts in 2010

Today, the number ten will represent the number of American League pennants that the Detroit Tigers have won.

We discussed franchise playoff appearances only two days ago, so it’s immediately obvious that the Tigers have only played in the post season and missed out on a World Series trip twice out of twelve trips.

The big reason for that is (as I said the other day) that the first eight franchise playoff appearances came when the playoffs were just the World Series. Back then, you won the pennant by winning the regular season league title (there weren’t any divisions).

From 1901 until the League Championship series were added (after the 1968 season), the Tigers won eight pennants. That’s one every 8.5 years. That’s pretty much what you would have expected from an average team. For the first 60 of those years, there were eight teams in the AL, and then the league expanded to 10 teams for the next eight years. So, given the number of American League teams each year, you would have “expected” the Tigers to win the pennant every 8.3 years (or so), and that’s pretty much what happened.

The playoffs first expanded for the 1969 season. Now a team had to win a playoff series in order to win the pennant and represent their league in the World Series. The Tigers reached the playoffs, but lost in the ALCS in both 1972 and 1987, but they reached the Word Series in 1984 and 2006 giving the franchise their only two pennants since the first round of playoff expansion.

Given the number of teams in the AL in each season from 1969 to 2010 (12 teams from ’69 to ’76, and 14 teams thereafter), you could say that the Tigers ‘should have’ won three pennants (one every 13.5 years or so). They’ve actually only won two (one per 21 seasons). It’s probably not surprising that these numbers say that the Tigers have been worse than average when combining the last 42 years.