Manager Buddy Bell (53-109)—Career (519-724) w/DET (184-277)
This is my team. I wish I had $10 sitting around so I could sponsor the Baseball-Reference page. This is the season in which I earned my stripes.
As a nine-year-old, I had already been through a lot for a baseball fan. Some of my favorites—Trammell, Whitaker, and Sparky—had all retired or were about to (Tram should have retried in 1995). After the strike Tettleton left for Texas, and others that I had first began to watch moved on. But at least I had Cecil.
Well, I did until one stormy night, the trade deadline when he was dealt to the Yankees in yet another case of the Yankees using small-midwest teams as a second farm system.
I had the choice right then, follow Cecil to the Yankees and root for him and them, or stay with the Tigers.
I made the choice that allows me to sleep at night. I decided that day to stay with the Tigers through thick and thin, and it has been very thin at times, but it made beating the Yankees 10 years later so much sweeter.
The Tigers of 1996 were built much like other Tiger teams of the '90s. The game plan was to not care about the pitching, but instead invest in hitters who could hit three-run home runs with no one on base.
Unfortunately, MLB would only grant them one run when a home run would be hit with no one on base, as was most often the case. For a team with five guys who hit more than 20 home runs, they only scored 783 runs. Which with good pitching, a decent season is possible.
But alas, the 1996 season was the worst season for Tigers pitchers ever, and second place is not even close. Detroit gave up 1103 runs (a modern-day AL record) in 1996, trumping the 928 runs allowed by the 1929 Tigers and matched by the immortal 2003 squad.
Tony Clark ended up claiming the team HR crown from the departed Cecil Fielder and Bobby Higginson by hitting two home runs on the last day of the season to finish with 27 to Cecil and Bobby's 26.
HR - Tony Clark 27
RBI - Travis Fryman 100
BA - Bobby Higginson .320
OPS - Bobby Higginson .982 (The highest since Norm Cash in 1961 (1.148) and not beaten until Magglio Ordonez (1.029) in 2007. Draw conclusions if you must. 31st best all-time for a Tiger.)
Wins - Omar Ovilares 7
Losses - Felipe Lira 14
ERA - Ovilares 4.89
Saves - Gregg Olsen 8 (I had no idea either)