Spencer Torkelson and the Worst Debuts in Detroit Tigers History

Mar 17, 2021 - Spencer Torkelson hits a foul ball. Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 17, 2021 - Spencer Torkelson hits a foul ball. Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports /
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Worst Detroit Tigers Debut Number 2 – Ron LeFlore

Detroit Tigers
Ron LeFlore. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

Ron LeFlore’s story is remarkable. He grew up impoverished and turned to a life of crime at an early age. LeFlore was actually introduced to baseball while incarcerated, and he tried out for the Detroit Tigers while on furlough from Jackson State Prison. He was signed to a contract and played just 134 games in the minors before being called up to the Detroit Tigers. Under the circumstanced he performed very well, hitting .260 with 11 extra-base hits and 23 steals in 59 games. That doesn’t seem like a bad debut at all, but we need to talk about his defense.

LeFlore was understandably raw, and he managed to make 11 errors in center field in just 534 innings. No other outfielder since at least 1960 has made double-digit errors in fewer than 600 innings. In fact, Vladimir Guerrero is the only other outfielder with 11 errors in fewer than 800 innings. Defense remained an issue for LeFlore, but his rough start didn’t prevent him from having a terrific career. He made the 1976 All-Star team, and he led the league in steals twice and runs scored once.