Looking Back At The 2003 Detroit Tigers (38-110)


Not even Greenburg and Gehringer would have been able to turn around the fortunes of the 2003 Detroit Tigers Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Sept. 8 to 14 (Weekly Record 1-5, Season Record 38-110)

Looking to avoid becoming the worst team in the history of baseball, the Detroit Tigers master plan to avoid the dreaded 120 losses took a hit on this week in 2003, the third from the last week of the season.

The best and worst met in Yankee Stadium for three games in a late season tangle between the Yanks and Tigs. As you would expect from a team on their way to an American League pennant in just a few weeks, New York flattened Detroit in three straight by the collective score of 24 to 9.  Next up was a return home to face the Kansas City Royals for four games. It started well, a three-zip shutout for Mike Maroth (avoiding his 21st loss in his first start since clinching the dreaded 20th loss), but the Tigers looked like themselves again, losing the final three games (which stretched into the following week) by a collective score of 24 to 4.

Detroit had lost nine of ten games since winning three straight from Sept. 2 to 4.

Painful Game of the Week–Sept. 13: Royals at Tigers 

There is not too much to rehash about this game. It was vintage ’03 Tigers: get behind early and the bats are nonexistant. Starter Chris Mears was bombed for six runs over 4 + innings and Jamey Wright would go the distance for the Royals. Its worth noting that Wright spent most of the season in AAA, but was able to master the Tigers lineup, scattering seven hits through his complete game shutout. That shows that the Tigers were not even on par with a AAA team.

The Tigers hit a couple more dubious achievements in this game. They lost their 109th game, tying the franchise worst mark (1996), and suffered through their major league worst 16th shutout.

A day later, Detroit lost their 110th game. With two weeks to go in the season, and with the way the team had played all season long, it seemed a sure bet they would blow past that 120 loss number.

Final: Kansas City 7, Detroit 0

Lousy Player of the Week: Omar Infante

Omar Infante

is having a career year in his second tour of duty in Detroit. Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Omar Infante is certainly not a lousy player, and is a player the Tigers will rely heavily on heading into this year’s postseason. But it is worth noting his presence on the 2003 team. Many Tigers’ fans may be surprised Omar was a member of the 2003 team–they may identify him more from the better days of the franchise such as 2006 or last year when he provided a spark in the lineup as an upgrade for Ramon Santiago at second when being reacquired, along with Anibal Sanchez.

Infante began his career with the team who drafted him in 1998, making his ML debut with the Tigers in 2002. Playing in just 18 games in 2002, the following season was considered his rookie campaign and he struggled a bit, hitting .222 (compared to .333 in ’02). His average and power picked up in 2004 when he was handed the starting role at second, (.264 with 16 homers–a career high). The productivity dipped in 2005 so the Tigers brought in Placido Polanco in a mid-season trade.

After that, Infante was used sparingly, appearing in 78 and 66 games in 2006 and 2007 before being dealt to the Cubs for Jacque Jones in Nov. 2007. His time in Chicago was short-lived as less than a month later he was shipped to Atlanta. Making the best of limited action with the Braves in 2008 and 2009, Omar was promoted to a starter in 2010 and made his lone appearance in an All-Star game that season.

Prior to the 2011 season he was sent to the Marlins. His talents toiled in South Beach before the Tigers rescued him and Sanchez in July 2012.

Infante has had an All-Star caliber season in 2013, hitting .319 with 9 homers and is a free agent following this year.