Detroit Tigers: Top Ten First Basemen in Franchise History
Detroit Tigers: 1960-1974
The Tigers acquired Norm Cash just before the start of the 1960 season in a trade for Steve Demeter. That trade could not have gone better for the Tigers, as Cash ended up being one of the best players in franchise history, and a huge part of their success in 1968.
Best known for his monstrous 1961 season, in which Cash hit 41 home runs, had 132 RBI and won a batting title with a .361 average (and a .487(!) OBP) Cash carved out a very nice overall career with the Tigers. In 15 seasons, Cash hit .272/.374/.490 with 373 home runs, 1,088 RBI and a 139 OPS+. He was a four-time All-Star and is all over Detroit’s leaderboard in nearly every offensive category.
The two players ahead of Cash are Hall of Famers, one is already in and the other will be as soon as he is eligible. So the question then, is does Cash deserve to be in the Hall? After all, his WAR, OPS, and OPS+ are all higher than Orlando Cepeda and Tony Perez – both of whom are in the Hall.
Cash received 1.6% of the vote in 1980, his first and only year on the ballot. While he deserved more recognition than that, his stats are at best borderline for the Hall. His 42.9 JAWS score ranks 32nd among first basemen, with the average HOFer earning a 54.7. His closest statistical comparisons are Gil Hodges, Frank Howard and Rocky Colavito, all great players but none who are Hall of Famers. That’s probably where Cash resides, just on the outside looking in.