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The next best place to look after the partial honorees would be the team’s WAR leaders. According to both Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference, Harry Heilmann and Sam Crawford are the best hitters we haven’t covered yet (both sites rank Whitaker first among non-retired hitters, while Trammell is ranked second by B-R and third by Fangraphs). Heilmann put up 73 fWAR and 65.7 bWAR in 15 years with the team, while Crawford was worth 66 fWAR and 64.8 bWAR in his 15 years with the team. Both are interesting cases, in that neither wore uniform numbers and are already honored by the team in their Hall of Famer section. I doubt that the team will change either player’s status, not that it matters much, since they’re both remembered in some way anyway.
Both versions have Norm Cash next. Cash is probably the most puzzling exclusion I’ve seen. He’s a borderline Hall of Fame player who more or less spent his entire career in Detroit (2,018 of his 2,089 career games came with the team). He additionally played primarily in the 1960s, which is possibly the best-represented era in terms of number retirements. Cash put up 52.5 bWAR and 64 fWAR in his decade and a half as a Tiger. I would say that Cash will almost definitely get his number retired, but my one hesitation is that I can’t see why it hasn’t already been done.
Both methods round out their top tens with catcher and career Tiger Bill Freehan. Like with Cash, I can’t see why Freehan hasn’t already gotten his number retired. He made eleven All-Star Games in 14 full seasons, spent his whole career with the team, has a borderline Hall of Fame case, and played during the 60s and 70s. No. 11 was worth 43.3 bWAR and 53 fWAR, both impressive figures for a catcher (since the position usually comes with less playing time, and as a consequence, lower WAR totals). Again, the only reason I’m not sure if Freehan will be honored is because it hasn’t already happened.
Bobby Veach (12 years in Detroit; 42.7 bWAR, 51 fWAR with the team) and Donie Bush (14 years; 37.2 bWAR, 46 fWAR with the team) are both highly rated by both WARs, but neither wore numbers, and they’ve been out of baseball since 1925 and 1923, respectively. I seriously doubt any movement on either front. The next three players all have numbers at least. Dick McAuliffe (14 years; 35.1 bWAR, 45 fWAR), Rudy York (10 years; 26.6 bWAR, 40 fWAR), and Lance Parrish (10 years; 27.5 bWAR, 35 fWAR) are all well behind too many other players to have serious cases as of now, though.
Pitchers are the next area to look. According to Baseball-Reference, Hal Newhouser and Jack Morris are first and fifth in franchise history in bWAR among pitchers. After Morris, there’s a fall off in value, so we’ll stick to examining the three pitchers in between them for now. Tommy Bridges spent his entire 16-year career with Detroit, posting 50.7 bWAR, making six All-Star Games, and keeping a 126 ERA+. However, as good as he was, he hasn’t played since 1946 (and his last full season was 1943), meaning very few people will be pushing for his No. 10 to be retired.
Mickey Lolich is third on the list, with 44.2 bWAR in 13 seasons. I suppose his case is similar to Bill Freehan’s in that I can’t see a reason not to retire his number should they decide to do it, but the lack of action to date suggests that it won’t happen. Dizzy Trout is next, with 42.2 bWAR in 14 seasons with the team. Most of that value comes from three good seasons though, and the rest of his career wasn’t particularly notable, so it’s doubtful he’ll get his number retired.