1996 Detroit Tigers: 53-109
Speaking of teams that couldn’t pitch. The 1996 Tigers are kind of a stain in Detroit Tigers history for one reason: this was the start of the legendary Randy Smith era.
This was always going to be a transition year for the Tigers. Sparky Anderson had retired following the 1995 season and the team decided to clean house. Lou Whitaker had retired as well, and Alan Trammel retired following the 1996 season, so the roster was in need of an overhaul.
Well, did Smith ever overhaul it. He traded longtime Tigers slugger Cecil Fielder at the 1996 trade deadline and traded Travis Fryman following the 1997 season. None of the prospects he acquired in his trades ever amounted to anything. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Many fans like to compare Al Avila to Smith. They have both served a similar tenure both in terms of length and lack of success. Smith never had a winning season during his time as Tigers’ GM. He was fired after an 0-6 start in 2002.
Fan favorite Bobby Higginson was the team’s best player in terms of WAR (3.6), with career highs in batting average (.320) and OPS (.982).
The team allowed a whopping 1,103 runs in 1996, the most in franchise history, but keep in mind that this was right in the middle of the steroid era. Much like the 1952 team, they also walked a lot of batters.
This was also the first year of Buddy Bell’s unspectacular tenure as Tigers manager. One could definitely say that he got a raw deal, however.