Detroit Tigers All-Time Lists

Detroit Tigers: Best player by jersey number

ANAHEIM, CA - 1989: Alan Trammell #3 of the Detroit Tigers runs to first base during a game in the 1989 season against the California Angels at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Mike Powell/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - 1989: Alan Trammell #3 of the Detroit Tigers runs to first base during a game in the 1989 season against the California Angels at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Mike Powell/Getty Images) /
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CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 05: Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers bats against the Chicago White Sox during the Opening Day home game at Guaranteed Rate Field on April 5, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

20 Mark Fidrych

Number 20 has been a popular one in Tigers history, with Mickey Tettleton, Omar Infante, Rajai Davis, Howard Johnson and Fred Gladding just some of the few who have worn it. The honor for best goes to a legendary Tiger in Mark Fidrych, aka The Bird. Fidrych’s career was tragically cut short by a series of injuries, but his imprint has lasted longer on the city of Detroit that one could have ever imagined.

21 Willie Hernandez

45 players have worn number 21, including JaCoby Jones this season. While there are a few pitchers who had similar numbers, the honor goes to 1984 AL MVP Willie Hernandez. Hernandez was on fire that season, with a 1.92 ERA in 140 1/3 innings. He made three All-Star games in Detroit and is one of the greatest relievers in franchise history.

22 Virgil Trucks

Victor Reyes is the latest Tigers player to don the number 22, and the first since Hiram Bocachica in 2002. The best of the group is Virgil Trucks. ‘Fire’ Trucks pitched for the Tigers from 1941-1952 and again in 1956. Along with a couple legendary performances, Trucks posted a 3.50 ERA and 1,046 strikeouts in 1800 2/3 innings with Detroit.

23 Willie Horton

Historically, the Tigers have waited until a player makes the Hall of Fame before they retire their number. While Horton is not a Hall of Famer, the team made an exception for the Detroit icon. Horton’s 262 home runs ranks fifth in Tiger history, and his legacy goes way beyond his playing days.

Hideo Nomo in 2000 was the last player to wear number 23, and Kirk Gibson wore it during his Tigers career as well.

24 Miguel Cabrera

The first active player on this list, Cabrera has long surpassed 1990’s infielder Travis Fryman for the top spot among #24’s in Tigers history. It’d be surprising to see anyone wear number 24 in Detroit ever again.

25 Norm Cash

Fun fact: Al Kaline actually wore #25 from 1953-1954 before switching over to #6. Over the next six years six different players wore #25 before it settled onto the back of Norm Cash for the next 14 years. Cash’s name is all over Detroit’s record books. 17 players have worn #25 since, most recently Ryan Raburn, but none have reached Cash’s level of sustained excellence.

26 Frank Tanana

52 different players have worn number 26 for the Tigers. Most of them have been one or two-year guys, with a few exceptions. Frank Tanana pitched for the Tigers from 1985-1992, winning 96 games and posting a 4.08 ERA. He narrowly edged out notorious pinch-hitter Gates Brown, who wore number 26 during his 13 year career in the Motor City.

27 Jhonny Peralta

Number 27 has been a popular one in Tigers history, having been worn every season since 1995. former shortstop Jhonny Peralta is the most successful of the group, narrowly beating Craig Monroe for the title. Jordan Zimmermann, Andrew Romine and Frank Catalanotto are other notable #27’s.

28 Curtis Granderson

Curtis Granderson didn’t pick up number 28 until 2005, but he still narrowly edges out J.D. Martinez for the #28 crown. Martinez’s departure passed the number 28 onto utility man Niko Goodrum, who seems unlikely to take over this title anytime soon.

29 Mickey Lolich

Lolich is perhaps the most criminally underrated Tiger of all-time, both by Detroit fans and baseball fans overall. He donned the 2-9 from 1963-1975, becoming one of the best pitchers in Tigers history and arguably one of the ten greatest left-handers of all-time.