Detroit Tigers All-Time Tournament Team

Tigers All-Time Team

The Detroit Tigers have one of the most storied franchises in baseball. With a team with a rich history, their all-time team looks outstanding. It features one of the best all-around hitters in baseball history. Plus, there is a great mix of power and range amongst the players selected for this team. In fact, Detroit is one of four charter members of the AL who still play in their original city, along with the Red Sox, White Sox, and Guardians. In the meantime, as we continue preparation for our All-Time Team tournament, next up is the team from the Motor City.

Tigers All-Time Team


Catcher: Bill Freehan (1961-1976)

1,591 H, 706 R, 200 HR, 758 RBI, 24 SB, .262/.340/.412, 112 OPS+, 44.8 WAR

Bill Freehan made his major league debut in 1961. He was hitting .300, earning his first of 11 All-Star nods three years later. Freehan would go on to win five consecutive Gold Gloves from 1965-to-1969. Then, he would hit 25 home runs to go with a career-high 84 RBI in 1968. With Al Kaline, Willie Horton, and Denny McLain as the team’s stars, Freehan was the rock. According to Baseball-Reference, he owns three of the top four seasons in Tigers history for WAR by a catcher, capping at 6.9.

First Base- Hank Greenberg (1930, 1933-1941, 1945-1946)

1,528 H, 975 R, 306 HR, 1,200 RBI, .319/.412/.616, 161 OPS+, 55.5 WAR

On many other teams, Hank Greenberg or Miguel Cabrera would be the top pick at this position. However, this was a tough choice to make. Both players and Ty Cobb are among the top three hitters in Tigers franchise history. Greenberg lost almost four seasons to serve in WWII. Who knows what he could have done at the plate and on the field in that span. When he returned, Greenberg was sure to make up for it. The Hall of Famer posted incredible numbers in his Tigers tenure. In 12 seasons, he posted a 1.028 OPS and 1.017 for his career. Greenberg’s career OPS is the sixth-best in Major League history. Greenberg won two MVP awards, three home run titles, two World Series titles.

Second Base: Charlie Gehringer (1924-1942)

2,839 H, 1,775 R, 184 HR, 1,427 RBI,  181 SB, .320/.404/.480, 125 OPS+, 84.7 WAR

Charlie Gehringer played 17 of his 19-year Hall of Fame career at second base. He was a model of consistency, playing in every inning of the first six All-Star Games. Also, he failed to hit. 300 in only three of his 16 full seasons. His career year with the Tigers was in 1937, where Gehringer hit a league-leading .371. In 1929, he led the AL with 215 hits, 45 doubles, 19 triples, 27 stolen bases, and 131 runs. More importantly, he helped the Tigers capture their first World Series title in 1935.

Third Base: George Kell (1946-1952)

1,075 H, 502 R, 25 HR, 414 RBI, 34 SB, .325/.391/.433, 119 OPS+, 23.2 WAR

George Kell was a perennial All-Star. Over his seven-year tenure with the Tigers, he batted .325 with a 119 OPS+. Despite not hitting for power, he was a productive batter altogether. He’s one of two Major Leaguers to drive in 90 or more runs in a season with five or fewer home runs. From 1946-51, he at least .304 while going to five All-Star Games in that span. In addition, he would finish fifth in the MVP voting in 1947 with a .320 average and 93 RBI. Finally, he won the batting title by .0002 over Ted Williams in 1949.

Shortstop: Alan Trammell (1977-1996)

2,365 H, 1,231 R, 185 HR, 1,003 RBI, 236 SB, .285/.352/.415, 110 OPS+, 70.7 WAR

For 20 seasons, Alan Trammell was the face of the Tigers. In 1980, he earned his first of six All-Star nods, batted .300 for the first time, and won his first of four Gold Glove Awards. Trammell and the Tigers won the AL pennant and the World Series in 1984. Furthermore, Trammell was named World Series MVP as he hit two home runs and six RBI. Trammell’s runner-up finish in the 1987 AL MVP voting was a punch to the gut. Subsequently, he became the first Tiger since 1955 to have 200 hits and 100 RBI in the same season. Trammell also finished in the league top 10 with a slash line of .343/.402/.551, 109 runs, and 329 total bases.

Left Field: Willie Horton (1963-1977)

1,490 H, 671 R, 262 HR, 886 RBI, 14 SB, .276/.337/.472, 127 OPS+, 25.9 WAR

Willie Horton was one of baseball’s most feared sluggers in his era. Signed out of high school in 1961, Horton was an All-Star four years later. Then, he led the Tigers with 100 and 104 RBIs, the first of back-to-back 100-RBI seasons. He led the 1968 World Series champion Tigers in average, home runs, and OPS. But, until Lou Whitaker, Horton was the only Tiger to have his number retired without being in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Center Field: Ty Cobb (1905-1926)

3,900 H, 2,087 R, 111 HR, 1,811 RBI, 869 SB, .368/.434/.516, 171 OPS+, 144.9 WAR

Ty Cobb played in a different game during the Deadball Era. However, his numbers have stood out to this day. From a .368 career batting average with the Tigers to 3,900 of his 4,189 from the same Tigers team. Cobb helped the Tigers win three AL pennants from 1907-to-1909. In 1909, he led the league in home runs for the only time in his career. In addition, he won the Triple Crown too. His best offensive season was in 1911, where he became the first AL MVP. He led the AL in every significant offensive category that wasn’t home runs. Cobb would lead the AL in batting average 12 times, doubles three times, triples, and RBIs four times.

Right Field: Al Kaline (1953-1974)

3,007 H, 1,622 R, 399 HR, 1,582 RBI, 137 SB, .297/.376/.480, 134 OPS+, 92.8 WAR

It’s not a Tigers all-time team without Mr. Tiger himself. Al Kaline entered the majors as an eighteen-year-old in 1953. Two seasons later, his .340 average as a 20-year old made him the youngest player to become the AL batting champion. Then, he was a runner-up for the AL MVP, losing to Yogi Berra. He had nine .300 seasons, including his career-best .340 in 1955. On the other hand, Kaline finished a home run shy to become the next 3,000 hits and 400 home run club. Finally, he did all of this without hitting 30-home runs in his career.

Designated Hitter: Miguel Cabrera (2008-Present)

2,145 H, 1,056 R, 364 HR, 1,281 RBI, 22 SB, .309/.387/.529

Miguel Cabrera was the best hitter in baseball. He’s already headed to Cooperstown; it just depends on when he retires. Nevertheless, Cabrera won back-to-back MVP awards and four batting titles in five years from 2011-to-2015. On the other hand, he won the first batting Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski did it in 1967. In 2021, Cabrera became the 28th player in MLB history to 500 home runs. At this moment, he’s 42 hits away from 3,000. That milestone will put him in elite company with the likes of Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Albert Pujols, and Eddie Murray, who have reached both 500 home runs and 3,000 hits.


Starting Pitcher: Justin Verlander (2005-2017)

183-114 (.616%), 3.49 ERA, 2,373 K, 2,511 IP, 1.191 WHIP, 123 ERA+, 56 WAR

Justin Verlander was a key player in the revival of the franchise. His first full season in the majors came in 2006. He was named AL Rookie of the Year as he went 17-9 with a 3.63 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 186 innings. In 2011, Verlander had his best season. He won the pitching Triple Crown thanks to a 24-5 record with a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts. Verlander leads all Tigers right-handed pitchers in WAR. Next, his 2,373 career strikeouts are second to Mickey Lolich on Detroit’s all-time list.

Relievers: Hal Newhouser, John Hiller, Willie Hernández

Hal Newhouse was only 19 when he pitched his first full season in the majors in 1940. Newhouser found his stride in 1944, leading the AL with 29 wins and 187 strikeouts. He was even better in 1945, winning the AL pitching Triple Crown, winning his second consecutive MVP award. Surprisingly, he nearly won a third MVP award, losing to Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox. From 1944-49, Newhouser went 136-67 with a 2.52 ERA and a 152 ERA+.

John Hiller was one of baseball’s incredible comebacker stories. In January 1971, the Canadian suffered a heart attack. After being told he would never pitch again motivated Hiller to return to baseball. His dedication and work ethic paid off when he was cleared to return in June 1972. He pitched in 65 games the following season and won ten of them while posting a 1.44 ERA. Then, he set a then major league record of 38 saves. Hiller would pitch in the big leagues for 15 seasons. He would register 87 wins, 125 saves, 1,036 strikeouts, and a 2.83 ERA.

Willie Hernández is one of three relievers to win a Cy Young Award and an MVP Award. He converted 32 saves in 34 opportunities. Also, 21 of those saves required more than an innings of work out of the bullpen. Furthermore, Hernández allowed just 96 hits, six of which were home runs. However, he shared the closer role with Aurelio López until midway. Hernández recorded 120 saves in six seasons with a 2.98 ERA with Detroit.


Sparky Anderson (1979-1995) 

1,331-1,248 (.516%), AL Penant, 1984 World Series

Sparky Anderson left his legacy in Detroit. Before, he was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds “Big Red Machine” teams of the 1970s. Suddenly, he arrived in Detroit with World Series credentials. In a matter of time, Anderson turned the Tigers into a good team. The iconic manager took them from winning 56 games in 1979 to 104 in 1984. They opened the season 35-5 en route to the club’s fourth World Series title. Anderson managed the Tigers until 1995, with his 1,331 wins being a franchise record.

Honorable Mentions

Jack Morris, Lou Whitaker, Mickey Lolich, Harry Heilmann

Jack Morris has a reputation as one of the best big-game pitchers of his era. His 162 wins are the most by any other pitcher in the 1980s while ranking third in strikeouts for the decade. Morris pitched an average of 235 innings for seven consecutive seasons. He vaulted a spot among the league’s best pitchers in 1983, throwing 293 2/3 innings and 20 complete games. However, he would finish third in AL Cy Young Award voting.

Lou Whitaker’s place among Tigers greats is safe. Whitaker will forever be linked with Hall of Fame teammate Alan Trammell as the greatest double-play tandem in Major League history. Over his Tigers tenure, Whitaker won the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 1978. Then, he went to earn five All-Star selections, four Silver Sluggers, and three Gold Glove Awards. To sum up his career, he’s one of the four-second basemen with 1,000 runs and RBIs, 2,000 hits, and 200 home runs.

Mickey Lolich threw three complete-game victories in the 1968 World Series. But there is more to the southpaw than that accomplishment. For instance, Lolich is a 25-game winner who was an AL Cy Young Award runner-up in 1971. He’s a three-time All-Star whose 2,679 strikeouts are a franchise record. His 207 wins and 3,361 2/3 innings are third in Tigers history behind Hooks Dauss and Geroge Mullin. He ranks in the top 100 all-time among Major League pitchers in multiple categories, including strikeouts, shutouts, losses, innings pitched, walks, and wins.

Harry Heilmann won four batting titles in a seven-year span. Also, he would bat .390 or higher in all of them too. They’re the four best averages in a season by Tiger, not Cobb. On the contrary, Heilman became the first right-hander to win the AL batting title since Nap Lajoie in 1910. In fact, Heilmann’s .403 batting average in 1923 was the last .400 season in the AL until Williams hit .406 in 1941.

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Players/Managers Mentioned: Bill Freehan, Hank Greenberg, Charlie Gehringer, George Kell, Alan Trammell, Willie Horton, Ty Cobb, Al Kaline, Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, Hal Newhouser, John Hiller, Willie Hernández, Sparky Anderson, Jack Morris, Lou Whitaker, Mickey Lolich, Harry Heilmann, Yogi Berra, Hooks Dauss, Geroge Mullin, Aurelio López, Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Albert Pujols, Eddie Murray