Tigers Back Atop Baseball In Workman-Like 1942 Season PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dave Schwaller   
Saturday, 26 February 2011 09:53

05-06-07-10-33-34-42.  Are those the lotto numbers that Joe Tiger Fan would play? You bet. How better to honor the championship seasons for the home town team?  Although winning the World Series may not be an unfamiliar thing for Tiger Fans, doing it this way just might be.  Used to season win totals well into the 90s, this years club won only 82 in the regular season and needed 7 games in both post-season matchups against the Red Sox and Cubs.  The Red Sox were a juggernaut, going 99-55, and had 3 top-tier pitchers in rookie Starffin, Barrett, and Hallett.  As for the Cubs, 44 of their 91 wins came from the Dean brothers, as did 44% of the team’s innings.  Talk about workhorses.

 So as David slew Goliath, so did the Tigers slay the giants that were the Red Sox an Cubs.  What was the team’s strategy?  How did they have success in the face of such improbable odds?  Well, the Tigers have never been afraid to trot out power before average.  This year, even though they hit 125 homers, was not that simple formula.  Old met young, homegrown talent welcomed new acquisition.  Joe ‘Ducky’ Medwick tacked on another stellar year to a Hall-of-Fame career.  Gene Hasson batted 0.324 and seemed to always deliver that clutch hit.  But it is new blood that has energized the bats in Detroit.  Stan Musial weighs in on the skeptic side of the ‘Sophmore Slump’ debate with a 0.317 / 20 HR / 95 RBI effort.  Oh yeah, he also stole 15 bases and had 107 walks.  Arguably the team leader was new to Detroit, Willard Brown came over in an off-season trade with the Pirates and fit in like that last puzzle piece you just found under the coaster on the table after a half hour of looking everywhere, swearing at the dog, cracking your head on the cabinet as you reached between there and the fridge, and had to be physically restrained from pitching the whole table over because you couldn’t have gotten those 5 hours back had you not found that piece.  Always tallying solid offensive stats, Brown is indispensible up the middle.  How many guys in the league would be able to start at both centerfield and shortstop?  So yes, the Tigers are an offensive club first, but don’t dismiss their pitching staff before closer inspection.  Ace Verdell Mathis won 21 games and put up 345 critical innings at a 2.90 ERA and 1.07 WHIP clip.  Behind him Johnny Beazley and Fred Hutchinson put in innings and gave the team chances to win.  But maybe the key move was the acquisition of Cocania Garcia mid-season.  After Early Wynn went down with a shoulder injury and minor leager Connie Johnson couldn’t step up GM Rodney McBride went and did something few would have.  He traded inside the division to get Garcia and was instantly rewarded.  The affable Cuban went 10-4 the second half of the season and helped launch the Tigers into the playoffs.

 When we look back at the near history of the Tigers we see dismal teams.  Win totals around 60 for the previous three years with little promise.  Between the draft, wise trades, and free agency they have rebuilt and are hungry for more.  Seems to me that they are only on the upstroke of this curve, having fortune before they have peaked.  So look out Chicago, New York, and Boston, it’ll be tougher than ever to bring home a Tiger pelt for the foreseeable future.

Last Updated on Saturday, 26 February 2011 10:00