Many players have suited up for the Detroit Tigers. All-stars, future Hall of Famers, and plenty of prospects have played in the Motor City. But there have also been many forgotten players during the years. Today, let’s look back at some Detroit Tigers from the 2010s you may have forgotten.
Forgotten Detroit Tigers: Brennan Boesch
Back in 2010, Brennan Boesch emerged as the outfielder of the future for the Tigers. He made his major league debut against the Texas Rangers on April 23, 2010, replacing an injured Carlos Guillen, and hit a double high off the left-field wall on the first big-league pitch he saw.
A week later, Boesch hit his first major league home run, a grand slam off Joel Piñeiro of the Los Angeles Angels. He was named America League Rookie of the Month for both May and June, and he finished fifth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting with after batting .256 with 14 home runs and 67 RBIs.
Boesch won a spot in the Tigers starting lineup the following season and began his sophomore year strong, leading the American League in hits (41) and batting average (.380) in June. Brennan had a career year, batting .283 with 121 hits, 16 home runs, and 75 runs scored, but he suffered a torn ligament in August and was sidelined for the rest of the season.
He struggled for much of 2012, though he did show flashes at times, including hitting two home runs off White Sox ace Chris Sale — the only home runs Sale allowed to left-handed hitters all season. In 2013 the Tigers re-signed Boesch to a one-year contract worth $2.3 million, but they also signed veteran Torii Hunter, and Boesch was cut that March.
Forgotten Detroit Tigers: Andy Dirks
Another outfielder Detroit Tigers fans may have forgotten is Andy Dirks. He played 78 games in 2011 and 88 in 2012, and then became the team’s primary left fielder in 2013, when he registered a career-high 438 at-bats in 131 games. He usually rested against left-handed pitchers, but still posted a solid .256 average while hitting nine homers and driving in 37 runs.
Dirks was mainly known for his fielding that season, where he was a finalist for the Gold Glove Award alongside Alex Gordon and Yoenis Céspedes. He committed just two errors all season, and finished seventh in fielding percentage (.991), was fourth in putouts (211), and sixth in outfield assists with (7). But In 2014 Dirks was sidelined with a back injury and played just a dozen minor-league games. He was released the following season, and never played another professional game.
Forgotten Detroit Tigers: Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Salty was one of the biggest surprises early in the 2016 season for the Detroit Tigers. He began the year in a platoon role with James McCann, but took over as the starting catcher when McCann sprained his ankle just five games into the season. Saltalamacchia batted just .214 in April, but he impressed with power, driving in 15 runs and hitting six homers, including a grand slam against the Pirates.
Sadly, after a successful April, Salty’s numbers went downhill and didn’t do much after that. He finished the year with a .171 average, 12 home runs, and 35 RBIs. He spent 2017 with the Blue Jays and then returned to the Tigers organization in 2018, playing 67 games for Triple-A Toledo, but going 0-for-7 in five games with Detroit.
Forgotten Detroit Tigers: Brayan Villarreal
Brayan Villarreal made the Detroit Tigers out of spring training in 2011, but he struggled to a 6.15 ERA over 16 games and spent most of the season in Toledo. He didn’t make the club in 2012, but came up quickly after Doug Fister hit the injured list. Villarreal emerged as one of the most reliable arms in the bullpen that season, ending the year with a 2.63 ER, a 3-5 record, and 66 strikeouts in 54.2 innings. But Villarreal had a disastrous start to the 2013 season, allowing 10 earned runs in just 4.1 innings, and he was traded to the Boston Red Sox that July as part of the deal to land shortstop José Iglesias.
Many more Tigers players had a great season or two, such as Quintin Berry, Will Rhymes, Shane Greene, etc. Who are some players that you remember or were left off this list? I hope this article helped you recognize many of the one-year wonders of the Detroit Tigers.