As an exercise that was half curiosity and a half strolling down memory lane, I assembled the all-2000s Detroit Tigers fantasy baseball team. I reviewed the last twenty years of Tigers baseball, starting in the first year of Comerica Park and created the best fantasy baseball roster possible.
Since the year 2000, some fans would say the Detroit Tigers have “underperformed” because they never won the World Series. It’s understandable to feel that way, to an extent, but you can’t lose sight of the fact that the Tigers put up some monster individual seasons. I created this team based on the standard 5×5 Roto-League stats.
For batters, I reviewed batting average, home runs, RBIs, runs, and stolen bases. For pitching, I reviewed wins, ERA, strikeouts, WHIP, and saves. If you had the pleasure of rostering any of these Tigers in your fantasy baseball league, you probably did pretty well.
In the year 2000, no Detroit Tiger was cooler than Bobby Higginson. Higginson averaged .300 at the plate, crushed 30 home runs and drove in 102 runs that year while swiping 15 stolen bases. “Higgy” also flashed some of the best leather in the game as he led the majors with 19 outfield assists. When most look back at Higgy, they remember that he didn’t live up to his lucrative contract, but we should be remembering just how good he was, especially during the dark ages of Tigers baseball (late 90’s).
In the early 2000s, Carlos Guillen, Ivan Rodriguez, and Magglio Ordonez carried the Tigers offensively. In 2004, Ivan Rodriguez showed he had plenty more left in the tank as he hit .334 with 19 home runs and 86 RBIs. Pudge even stole seven bases—pretty miraculous for a guy that was entering his fourteenth year as a catcher.
In 2006, Carlos Guillen put up 19 home runs while stealing 20 bases and hitting .320. When we look back into the vault of Tigers players, Guillen is definitely one of the most undervalued. Guillen produced elite stats in a shallow position for a good amount of time in Detroit.
In 2007, Magglio Ordonez was on a different planet than everyone else as he hit .363 on his way to a batting title. In just 157 games, “Mags” had 216 hits. Just simply amazing.
After the 2007 season, Miguel Cabrera was traded to Detroit, thus transforming Tigers baseball for the next ten years. Cabrera deserves his own paragraph, as he has earned some of the most powerful and unique rewards possible in baseball.
Miggy is a 2x MVP, 11x All-Star, 7x Silver Slugger and has won 4x batting titles along with the coveted Triple Crown title. The Tigers are lucky to have Cabrera and so were you if you drafted him in your fantasy baseball league during these years.
In 2013 Miggy arguably outperformed his 2012 Triple Crown award-winning year. Miggy hit 44 home runs, knocked in 137 RBIs, scored 103 runs all while hitting .348. He is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and the best Tiger off all time.
Another amazing Tiger was Justin Verlander. Verlander is the best Tigers pitcher I have ever seen and his awards back up his Hall of Fame career. In his first year as a Tiger, (2006) Verlander won the Rookie of the Year award while the Tigers made it to their first World Series since 1984.
In 2011, Verlander had one of the best pitching seasons in the history of MLB as he won the MVP and Cy Young award while posting the best ERA in the game (2.40). Another amazing pitcher during this time was Max Scherzer. Scherzer was a bulldog out there and in 2013 he won his first CY Young.
Other accolades that stick out are Roger Cedeno’s 55 steals in 2001 and Anibal Sanchez’s ERA title in 2013 when he boasted an ERA of 2.57 over 182 innings. Now that the smoke has cleared, there is no Tiger I wish would have gotten a World Series ring more than Torii Hunter.
In the few seasons Hunter played in Detroit, he was great on and off the field. Teammates and fans adored him and he did not disappoint at the plate. In 2013, at age 37, Hunter batted .304 with 17 home runs, 84 RBIs, and 90 runs while playing great defense.
Lastly, we must talk about the Tigers closers. Over the years, nothing has given fans more of a headache than the closers, however, we must not forget about Todd Jones saving 42 games in 2000 or Jose “Papa Grande” Valverde closing out 49 games in 2011 with an era of 2.24. Francisco Rodriguez also had a great year in 2016 when he saved 44 games, but to be honest, does anyone actually remember Rodriguez being that good?
Over the last 20 years, many Tigers players have rewritten the history books with some of the best individual seasons of all-time. There is no doubt a lot of these Tigers helped you win your fantasy baseball league. Hopefully twenty years from now we will be talking about how great Casey Mize, Spencer Torkelson, and Matt Manning were.
*On the hitting team tweet, the duplicate entry of Victor Martinez was replaced by Torii Hunter’s 2013 season (.304/17/84/90/3).