Happy throwback Thursday Detroit Tigers fans! Today we remember one of the unheralded stars of the 1990’s, infielder Travis Fryman.
The Detroit Tigers were a very successful franchise in the 2010’s, the 1980’s, and the 1960’s. They managed to skip a few decades however, as they went through rebuilds similar to the one occurring right now.
One of the more brutal decades in Detroit Tigers history was the 1990’s. After a very successful run in the mid-to-late 1980’s, Detroit’s crop of stars began to age, which quickly pushed the team down the pecking order in the American League.
Thus began a lengthy era of poor pitching, poor hitting and even poorer drafting, finally resulting in the perfectly disastrous 2003 season that saw them lose an AL record 119 games.
However, just because the team didn’t win much doesn’t mean the 1990’s weren’t filled with talented players. And one of the most unheralded stars was infielder Travis Fryman, who spent seven very successful years in the Motor City.
Travis Fryman’s Tigers Tenure
Many believed that Travis Fryman was the son of former Tigers hurler Woodie Fryman after the Tigers made Travis their first round pick in the 1987 Draft (he’s not).
After smashing his way through the minor leagues, Fryman made his big league debut with the Tigers in 1990. His first full-season was 1991, where he blasted 21 home runs and swiped 12 bases. He came up as a third baseman, making him a nice infield compliment to the dynamic duo of Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker.
However, an injury to Trammell allowed Fryman to play shortstop in 1992, his breakout year. Fryman lead the league in at-bats, slashing .266/.316/.416 with 20 home runs. He made his first All-Star team and was the American League Silver Slugger Award winner at shortstop. In fact, Fryman was the only shortstop not named Trammell or Cal Ripken to win that award between 1983-1994.
He played both short and third in 1993 before transitioning to third base full-time in 1994. He was an All-Star in each of those seasons, hitting .300 in 1993.
1996 saw Fryman post the first of back-to-back 100 RBI seasons. He was eventually dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks in November of 1997 in exchange for Joe Randa, Gabe Alvarez and Matt Drews. The D-Backs flipped him less than two weeks later for veteran Matt Williams, and Fryman went on to have a very successful second half of his career with the Cleveland Indians – winning a Gold Glove in 2000 and making one more All-Star team.
Fryman was Detroit’s most successful player of the 1990’s – leading the franchise in at-bats, bWAR, and finishing second in home runs behind Cecil Fielder.
Fryman finished his MLB career with 223 home runs and a 34.5 bWAR – another forgotten star in an era of power hitting infielders. He is currently a roving hitting instructor in the Indians front office.