Decades are easy page breaks in sports history, but the Detroit Tigers have not always followed the calendar's script.
This season marks the close of the "aught decade," a decade of dramatic change for the boys from the Motor City.
We cheered our Tigers on as they sprinted into the decade with a brand spankin' new stadium, but soon looked on in horror as the team remained in the basement of the American League Central, barely missing out on an all-time loss record.
The Tigers' fortune did turn, though, with the signing of Pudge Rodriguez, the trade for Carlos Guillen, the signing of Magglio Ordonez, and a nice mix of young (Justin Verlander) and veteran (Kenny Rogers) pitching—the Tigers were World Series contenders.
The list of Detroit Tiger's All-Stars of the "aught decade" has reflected this transition of success. Early on, the Tigers only received the mandatory one player, but as the position in the standings rose, so did the number of All-Star selections.
"The Rollercoaster" may not be a popular guy in Motown these days, but he did put up some good first half numbers at the turn of the decade. Todd came into the All-Star break sporting a 2.53 ERA with 27 saves and 37 strikeouts in 32 innings pitched.
Todd pitched one inning without allowing a base runner in the game.
2001 @ Safeco Field, Seattle, WA: The Tigers, again, sent only one representative to the All-Star game.
Tony Clark went into the break hitting 0.305 with 13 home runs, 51 RBI, and 51 runs scored. Tony the Tiger went 0-1 with a strikeout in a pinch hitting role for the American League.
2002 @ Miller Park, Millwaukee, WI: For the third straight year in the decade, the Tigers only had one All-Star, this time Robert Fick got the nod. Mr. Fick entered the mid-summer classic hitting 0.290 with 11 home runs, 40 RBI, and 44 runs scored. The game ended in a tie, and you can blame Rober Fick (1-2).
He scored the tying run for the American League in the eighth inning.
2003 @ U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago, IL: Dimitri Young was the only Tiger (is there a trend here?) selected as an All-Star in 2003. "D'Meat Hook" hit 0.283 with 18 homers in the first half, driving in 49 runs while scoring 47.
Dimitri did not enter the game.
Pudge won the fan vote to become the American league starting catcher by hitting 0.369 with 12 home runs, 59 RBI, and 45 runs scored. Carlos Guillen came in hitting 0.324 with 13 home runs, 65 RBI, and 64 runs scored. Pudge went 2-4 with one run and one RBI in the game, but Carlos did not play.
2005 @ Comerica Park, Detroit, MI: Ivan Rodriguez made his second All-Star Game as a Tiger, the lone Detroit representative in the home ballpark. Pudge entered the break, hitting 0.292 with six home runs, 32 RBI, and 42 runs scored.
The highlight of the all-star festivities was the Home Run Derby, where Pudge wowed the home fans by slugging it out with Bobby Abreu in the final round. Pudge went 0-1 with a walk and a strikeout.
2006 @ PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA: The Tigers sent three to the All-Star Game for the first time since 1987, when four Tigers received All-Star bids.
Ivan Rodriguez hit 0.308 with seven homers, 39 RBI, and 42 runs scored en route to his third All-Star appearance as a Tiger. Magglio Ordonez made his first appearance as a Tiger, hitting 0.312 with 16 home runs, 62 RBI, and 47 runs in the season's first half.
Kenny Rogers was named the American League starting pitcher after posting 11 wins and a 3.85 ERA before the break. Rogers pitched two innings, giving up one run and striking out one.
Ordonez struck out in his only at bat, and Pudge went 0-2 at the plate.
2007 @ AT&T Park, San Francisco, CA: Fresh off a World Series appearance, the Tigers sent five players to the All-Star Game in San Francisco.
Rodriguez came in hitting 0.288 with eight home runs, 46 RBI, and 35 runs scored.
Magglio came in hitting 0.367 with 13 home runs, 70 RBI, and 70 runs scored.
Placido came in hitting 0.335 with three homers, 38 driven in, and 62 runs scored.
Carlos Guillen came in hitting 0.325 with 14 home runs, 67 runs batted in, and 51 runs scored.
Justin Verlander made his first All-Star appearance with 10 wins, a 3.14 ERA, and 97 strikeouts. The Tiger hitters combined 1-7 in the game with Magglio going 0-2, Placido 0-1, Carlos 0-2, and Pudge 1-2.
Verlander gave up one run on two hits in one inning of work.
2008 @ Yankee Stadium, New York, NY: Carlos Guillen was the lone Tiger representative for the American League Squad, hitting 0.284 with eight home runs, 47 RBI, and 45 runs scored.
In his third appearance as a Tiger, Guillen went 1-3 with a walk.
That makes 19 (possibly 20) all-stars for the Tigers this decade, 14 position players, four starting pitchers, and one relief pitcher.
So, how do this year's players stack up to the Tiger All-Stars of the decade?
0.257 batting average ranks 14 out of 14.
Eighteen home runs ranks tied for first out of 14.
Forty-three RBI ranks ranks 10 out of 14.
Fifty-one runs scored ranks tied for five out of 14.
3.59 ERA ranks three out of four.
141 strikeouts ranks one out of four.
Nine wins ranks three out of four.
2.59 ERA ranks one out of four.
Ninety-three strikeouts ranks three out of four.
Six wins ranks four out of four.
So be proud when the Tigers are introduced into the game next Tuesday, and remember the years when true Tiger All-Stars were hard to come by. This decade has been a decade of change for the Tigers.
Let's be glad that the change has been in the right direction.
Let's be glad that we can be proud of our All-Stars.
Voting ends on Thursday at 4 pm ET for the All-Star Game's Final Vote. There is no limit to fan voting, so vote for Brandon Inge early and often!