Detroit Tigers: The 25-man roster challenge

Miguel Cabrera celebrates a win at Comerica Park on May 10, 2013. The Tigers defeated the Indians 10-4. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Miguel Cabrera celebrates a win at Comerica Park on May 10, 2013. The Tigers defeated the Indians 10-4. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

Recently I was a guest on a podcast called “Boxseat Banter” with host Billy Ballas and participated in an interesting idea for any Detroit Tigers or baseball fans, in general, can appreciate. His website can be found here. 

The podcast did cover the history of the Detroit Tigers and some memories of Tiger Stadium but the challenge was creating a roster of 25 players with the time frame being from 1995 to 2019 and picking one player per year, with no repeats and the roster has to make sense. The 26-man roster started last year which is why for this, it is 25.

Now for anyone who remembers the Detroit Tigers from 1995 to 2000 at first may think the teams were bad, well, by wins and losses, they were, we can’t deny that. But, there were some players who stand out on those teams that made Tigers baseball at least tolerable and entertaining to watch.

The two biggest struggles I had were constructing the bullpen and parts of the rotation. You have to remember one thing about the Tigers bullpen in the late ’90s and into the 2000s. Outside of Todd Jones, there was not much that stands out.  Also, my outfield may grade weaker than Billy’s but it will make sense when you see my infield.

This is a fun exercise for anyone living in Michigan that loves baseball and is experiencing the full force of winter. A roster construction like this can go beyond just the best WAR per position. With my logic, I had to think about some of the best years presented by Tigers batters during that time frame.  Here is Billy’s roster with the year and their WAR on the far right.

Pretty solid roster and puts out into the light again the monster season Justin Thompson had in 1997. So, what about my roster?

So, what stands out here is the differences in our outfield. In 2007, Curtis Granderson was the best player on the Tigers in terms of WAR with a 7.6 however, Magglio was second and he did win the batting crown. To me, that was significant because he was the first Detroit Tigers player I have ever seen win the award and the first since Norm Cash in 1961. So yes, give me all the grief you want about leaving Granderson off the list but that was a very tough decision to make.

I also included two Tigers I watched play in my youth in Tony Clark and Travis Fryman. I felt having them both on the roster was important for this exercise. Another tough call was leaving Bobby Higginson off the list in favor of Luis Gonzalez’s one season in Detroit. Fryman got the nod over Higginson for 1996 but it was close.

I have the very slight edge in starting rotations but his bullpen is clearly better. Overall, my roster feels like a pattern of Tigers teams from 2010-2015 which was good starting pitching, a good offense but a shaky bullpen.

In the comment section below or on social media, give us your 25-man roster based on the rules above.