Detroit Tigers: 5 players who always seem to have their number

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JUNE 13: Jose Abreu #79 of the Chicago White Sox hits a two run first inning home run in front of Tucker Barnhart #15 of the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on June 13, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JUNE 13: Jose Abreu #79 of the Chicago White Sox hits a two run first inning home run in front of Tucker Barnhart #15 of the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on June 13, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

These 5 players always seem to be at their best when they see the Detroit Tigers on the other side

There have been a lot of players who have lit up Detroit Tigers‘ pitching over the years. Joe Mauer, Grady Sizemore, Joe Crede, and David Ortiz are a few names that come to mind.

But right now it feels like there are an abundance of Tiger killers. Most of them are within the American League Central, but some of them have crushed Tigers’ pitching no matter what team they play for.

As mentioned above, there are a lot of Tiger killers, so naturally there are a few that will be have to be omitted from this list. But we’ll start with a couple of honorable mentions.

HM: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals

Salvy has terrorized the Tigers since his rookie season. I distinctly remember him hitting his first big league homer off Max Scherzer in 2011 as a rookie and thinking “man, that guy is going to be problem, isn’t he?” Boy, was I right.

Perez is slashing .282/.329/.488 against the Tigers in his career with 26 homers. The guy has been one of the best catchers in the game for over a decade now, but he’s just one of several guys who turns it up a notch whenever he sees that Old English D on the other side.

HM: Michael Brantley, Houston Astros

Most of Brantley’s damage was done when he played for Cleveland, but he’s still been a thorn in the Tigers’ side as a member of the Houston Astros. Brantley is slashing .324/.379/.480 against the Tigers in his career. He has just always had a knack for getting a big hit whenever he hits against Detroit, including a go-ahead 2-run double back on May 7 of this year.

Some Tigers fans may have forgotten about Brantley, which is why he is only an honorable mention. But for those of you that do remember him, you remember him all too well.

That’s it for honorable mentions. Let’s get into the list proper.

Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox

If Abreu only played against the Detroit Tigers, he’d be a perennial MVP candidate. He still puts up pretty good numbers as it is, but the guy just torches Detroit pitching.

He’s slashing .347/.405/.588 with a .993 OPS and 27 homers against the Tigers in his career. He added to this last night with two bombs, one of which went 444 feet to dead center.

To make matters worse, Abreu loves to hit at Comerica Park, hitting .342 with an OPS over 1.000 at CoPa in his career. 16 of his homers against Detroit have come as a visitor. He sure seems to make this ballpark look small.

He hit .400 with an OPS over 1.100 against Tigers’ pitching in 2016, then had an OPS over 1.200 in the shortened 2020 season. In four games this season, he’s got an OPS over 1.500 against Detroit.

The Tigers have never been able to get this guy out. Even when Justin Verlander was still here, he’d tee off on him too. He’s a really good hitter, and he does this to a lot of teams, but it would just be nice if he’d let up a bit against the Tigers.

Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox

Sticking with the Southsiders, Anderson never seems to waste time against the Tigers, often swinging at the first pitch and immediately doing damage. He doesn’t always leave the yard, but the ball always seems to find the outfield whenever he suits up against the Detroit Tigers.

TA is slashing .346/.384/.520 against the Tigers in his career. He hit .400 against the Tigers in 2019, and then a whopping .513 against them in the shortened 2020 season.

Earlier this season, in the midst of a three-hit day for Anderson, the Tigers finally got him to strike out. He could then be seen mouthing something like, “they finally got me out,” on the TV broadcast. Even he knows he owns the Tigers.

Anderson is a fun player to watch. He’s currently on the IL, so we won’t see him during this series. Tigers fans are breathing a collective sigh of relief at this news.

Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Guardians

The Guardians have traded most of their superstars in an effort to shed payroll, but decided to reverse course and sign J-Ram to a five-year, $124 million extension right before the season began. Tigers fans groaned as the possibility of him leaving the AL Central disappeared.

Ramirez has been on a tear this season, slashing .292/.389/.641 with an OPS of 1.030. He’s currently eighth in all of baseball with a WAR of 3.0. Like everybody on this list, he loves to see the Detroit Tigers come up on the schedule.

J-Ram has a slash line of .327/.409/.629 with an OPS of 1.038 against Detroit in his career. His best season against Tigers’ arms came in 2017, where he was just unfair. He had an OPS over 1.600. He hit .476 with a whopping nine home runs. He slugged well over 1.000. It was absurd.

He hasn’t quite reached that level of dominance in the seasons since, but he’s still been a nuisance. He hasn’t had a season where didn’t hit at least .300 against the Tigers since 2016. He’s already got two homers and an OPS over 1.300 this season, so expect more of the same.

Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals

Now this guy is just a pest. Merrifield is very slappy hitter, but he does have the ability to hit for power. He always seems to find a hole or gap, or even the seats against Detroit.

Merrifield has a slash line of .331/.364/.531 in his career vs. Detroit. His 11 career homers against the Tigers are the most he has against any team.

His best year came in 2019 when he had an OPS of 1.156 and hit .388 against the Tigers. Last season was the first year in his career where he didn’t hit at least .300 against Tigers’ pitching, although he still hit .297.

Merrifield has been the subject of trade rumors for what seems like forever now, yet here he is, still in a Royals’ uniform. He’s gotten off to a rough start in 2022, as injuries have kind of hampered his play. Still, I’m sure he’ll magically become fully healthy the next time the Tigers play Kansas City.

Nelson Cruz, Washington Nationals

Come on, you knew this was coming. No Tiger killer list is complete without the boomstick.

Nelly Cruz’s reign as Detroit Tigers’ owner dates all the way back to the 2011 postseason, where he absolutely dominated the Tigers in the ALCS with the Texas Rangers, hitting six home runs in the series. Then he did it again in the 2014 ALDS with the Baltimore Orioles when he hit .500 with two more homers in an Orioles’ sweep. You can pretty much guarantee a tank whenever Cruz steps to the plate against the Tigers.

Cruz has a slash line of .300/.379/.529 against Detroit in his career (not including postseason). He stayed away from the AL Central for a while before he signed with the Minnesota Twins prior to the 2019 season. He proceeded to torch Tigers’ pitching to the tune of a 1.020 OPS with 10 home runs over almost three season with the Twins.

When he signed with the Washington Nationals this past offseason, Tigers fans rejoiced. No longer could he torture them. Sadly, however, the damage has already been done. Tigers fans despise Nelson Cruz, despite never having hurt them personally. The day he retires may be a cause for celebration.

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