Edson: Ex-Tigers Continue To Shine In Playoffs

This was a rough year for Detroit Tigers fans.

The team finished with the worst record in baseball at 47 wins and 114 losses.

So the news I’m about to tell you will either make you feel a little better or a lot worse.

Let’s pretend you’ve put the Tigers regular season behind you. Now you want to root in the post-season for some players you’re familiar with.

So let’s start with three former Tigers pitchers – Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Anibel Sanchez. The three combined to win 43 games this year – or four less than the entire Tigers team.

By far the most productive was the 36-year-old Verlander, who clinched his spot in the Hall of Fame by notching his 3,000th career strikeout during the last game of the regular season.

Verlander and teammate Garret Cole will be the favorites to win the American League Cy Young Award. Verlander went 21-6 and now has 225 career wins. He is seeking his second Cy Young.

Scherzer has already won two Cy Young Awards and is also closing in on 3,000 career strikeouts.

He is just short of 2,700 right now (2,692) and is two years younger than Verlander. Max struck out 243 batters this season, but just has to average a little more than 150 strikeouts in the next two years to hit the magic 3,000 and probably earn his ticket into the Hall of Fame, also.

Are you sick yet?

Anibel Sanchez only won 11 games this year but he tossed a masterpiece in the first game of the National League championship series against St. Louis to give the Washington Nationals a 1-0 series

So we can safely say that ex-Tiger pitchers have had a pretty good year.

But the knock against the Tigers has been their failure to develop young hitters. That’s only partially true.

Let’s take the case of these former Tigers.

  1. Eugenio Suarez was a Detroit minor leaguer for five years before the Tigers traded him to Cincinnati for the long forgotten pitcher, Alfredo Simon. Suarez hit 49 home runs this season for the Reds, with 103 RBI. He’s an All-Star at age 28.
  2. Nicholas Castellanos was Detroit’s best hitter when they traded him for two prospects this summer. All he did when he got to the Chicago Cubs was hit .321. He wound up the year with a .289 average and 27 home runs. The Tigers say their rebuild is three years away from taking fruition, which would have made Castellanos only 30 and coming into his prime.
  3. Willy Adames was one of the top Tigers prospects when they traded him four years ago. He’s now only 24 and the regular shortstop for Tampa Bay, which made the playoffs. He hit 20 home runs this year to go with his .254 average and outstanding defense.

So, as you can see, the Tigers don’t lack for developing outstanding young players. They lack the discipline it takes to keep them.

Hopefully, you can watch the rest of the baseball playoffs this year and not wonder “what if?” the Tigers had kept these six players.

Nick Edson is a retired Hall of Fame columnist and sportswriter. He worked 25 years at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, 18 as sports editor. He is a two-time president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association and a member of the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.