Best Transaction: There are two here and they are huge. In August of 1912 the Tigers purchased two contracts (basically free agents) from lesser leagues. They signed both Hooks Dauss and Bobby Veach. Veach is one of the greatest Tigers of all-time, as he led the league in RBI three times while with the Tigers and retired with a batting average of .310. Dauss on the other-hand, was a terrific pitcher for the Tigers and won 222 games, all with the Tigers. The Tigers gave up no players to get these guys, just a little cash.
Worst Transaction: This was in the era of buying and selling players. So while the Tigers bought guy slike Dauss and Veach, they also sold off quite a few guys in 1912. Luckily, none of the guys the Tigers brass sold in 1912 amoutned to much of anything. There were a few guys like Ollie O’Mara who hung on in the bigs for a couple of seasons, but nothing that would be missed.
Upper: Ty Cobb had a season for the ages in 1912. He finished the season with an OPS+ of 200. Think about that. 200! He was twice the average player in 1912. Cobb hit .409 and led the league in hits even though he missed a couple of weeks with injuries and an infamous suspension. During the season, Cobb charged into the stands to fight a fan who was tossing some trash-talk in Cobb’s direction. Since Cobb was apparently insane, he thought it would make sense to run into the stands and beat the fella up. Cobb was subsequently suspended, obviously. However, his Tigers teammates stuck up for him and refused to play in any games until the suspension was lifted. The strike worked as they all missed only one game. Imagine what would happen to a player now if fought a fan in the stands. Especially the best player in the game.
Downer: That fight was pretty tough. The man that Cobb fought apparently had some mental and physical deficiencies. The Tigers then had to go through the embarrassment of fielding a team entirely of fill-ins for one game. The Tigers lost the game 24-2 and Cobb and his gang were back the next day. The game is a pretty cool historical footnote though as several men made their major league debuts and finales in the same game.
Summary: This team was a huge disappointment. The Tigers won 20 more games the season before and just came out flat in 1912. The pitching staff struggled a lot in 1912 and had a staff ERA+ of only 87. The offense boasted Sam Crawford and Ty Cobb, but not much else. Guys like Hooks Dauss and Bobby Veach made their debuts this season, but they were not yet major contributors. The Tigers would sink would a bit more in 1913 before running off some pretty impressive seasons over the next few years. It still blows my mind that the Crawford/Cobb Tigers failed to win a single championship.