5 Best Non-World Series Seasons for Detroit Tigers
Oct 15, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) throws against the Boston Red Sox during game three of the American League Championship Series baseball game at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
#5: 2011 Detroit Tigers (95-67, 15 GA of Cleveland Indians)
By the time 2011 rolled around, much of the surprising team from 2006 had left. That 2006 AL champion team will be remembered very fondly by Tigers’ fans because they came out of nowhere after nearly 20 years of terrible baseball to make Detroit a baseball town again, but as those players aged and injuries set in the franchise tried to retool.
They had a decent year in 2007 and were actually MLB’s best team at the All-Star break but fell apart terribly in the second half. Despite winning 88 games they could not match the Indians. That ensuing offseason, the team made a blockbuster trade which brought superstar Miguel Cabrera and former phenom pitcher Dontrelle Willis to Detroit. Just two years out form a World Series, the Tigers were the consensus pick to win it all–they finished in last place.
The following year looked promising and the Tigers held a 7.5-game divisional lead on Labor Day but watched it disappear. Unlike 2006 there was no wild-card spot to fall back upon and they lost a heartbreaking (and still tough to remember) 163rd game in Minnesota.
In 2010, the team received many new pieces in a offseason blockbuster trade that brought in a raw Scherzer, Austin Jackson and some other piece to the team.
By the time 2011 rolled around, the rejuvenated baseball town was yearning for another taste of the playoffs. Throughout much of the season the Tigers had trouble putting distance between themselves and their AL Central rivals. A late-August into early September 12-game winning streak helped to do just that, but they had the same divisional lead that they held two seasons ago. There would be no collapse this time.
That year the Tigers were led by a once-in-a-generation performance from Justin Verlander. Every time he went out to the mound he just embarrassed batters. He threw his second career no-hitter in June at Toronto, won 24 games (winning 12 straight at one point), posting a 2.40 ERA in 251 innings. He easily won the Cy Young award and also became the first AL pitcher since 1990 to the MVP.
On the offensive side of things, the team was led by Miguel Cabrera’s 30 homers, .344 average and 105 RBIs. Victor Martinez, Jhonny Peralta, Brennan Boesch and Alex Avila were also key offensive performers that season.
The Tigers had dominated the regular season series with the defending AL champion Texas Rangers and though they would start on the road, Detroit was confident they could win there. Verlander didn’t have his best stuff in Game 1 and put the Tigers in an early hole in the ALDS. Though they won two out of the three games in Detroit, they really needed to sweep to have a chance in Texas. In Game 6 at Arlington they clung to a brief lead but Texas came back and put them away.
Although it was a disappointing outcome, most fans figured this new core of players would be back and ready to take the next step the following year. They did–going to the World Series, but that didn’t work out so hot.