If you had asked any Tiger fan which player on the 2006 team would be a big part of Detroit’s future, Chris Shelton might have been the most popular pick. Even over Justin Verlander.
Shelton, sadly, never lived up to those expectations.
The first baseman was drafted in the 33rd round by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2001 MLB draft. He raked for three seasons in the minors before the Tigers selected him in the Rule 5 draft. He only played sparingly in 2004, hitting .196 in 46 at-bats.
Shelton broke out in 2005, slashing .299/.360/.510 with 18 home runs and a 132 OPS+. He looked the part of a future star, having crushed professional pitching since 2001.
2006 was no different, as Shelton got off to a blistering start. He hit nine home runs in the teams first 13 games, the fastest American Leaguer to reach that mark in history. The only National League players to repeat that mark are Mike Schmidt, Luis Gonzalez and Larry Walker.
Unfortunately, Shelton’s power all but dissipated after that. By July 31 he was sent down to Triple-A Toledo, having been replaced by veteran Sean Casey whom the Tigers acquired at the trade deadline.
Shelton’s career never got back on track. He spent a lot of time bouncing around in the minor leagues. He only saw 123 more major league at-bats split between the Rangers and Mariners between 2008-2009. Shelton hit .220 with just two home runs before finishing his career out in the Astros minor league system.
Shelton stayed in the game, coaching at his alma mater Cottonwood High School in Salt Lake City. While things did not quite turn out as he had expected when his career started, the 37-year-old is content with his career.