What is a letdown?
Webster's dictionary defines a letdown as a "discouragement or disappointment."
A letdown is so much more than a bad night, rough week or sub-par season. A true letdown is when a city and its members have high but acceptable expectations for their home team, and the players simply do not produce results.
The Detroit Tigers have had their share of letdowns in their recent history. Here is a list of the top 10 biggest Tiger letdowns over the past 10 years.
First of all, Neifi Perez is not a letdown because the Tigers and their fans expected him to produce monster numbers. He is a letdown because he cost a lot of money to be a player that cannot follow the rules.
As a lifetime .267, he was not brought to Detroit in 2006 as an offensive replacement to the injured Polanco. Perez was brought in because he was a good defensive player, even though he would go on to have his worst two seasons in the field as a professional.
Upon trading for Perez, it was announced that the Tigers had him signed through 2007 for $2.5 million. That is letdown No. 1. Giving that kind of money to a rapidly declining player should be illegal.
To make matters worse, Perez would go on to test positive THREE times for banned stimulants. He would be suspended for a total of 105 games during the 2006 and 2007 seasons. This is letdown No. 2.
Maybe he was trying to regain something he once had, or maybe he felt this was the only way he could keep up in a young man's game. Either way, that was the method in which Perez would walk away from the MLB forever, which even he should view as a letdown.
Remember back when the Tigers had a speed threat with decent hitting ability?
That was in 2004, and his name was Alex Sanchez. In 2003, upon being traded to Detroit, Sanchez would steal 46 bases in 101 games for Detroit. While he only appeared in 79 games during 2004, he managed to hit .322 and steal 19 bases. His career would slowly decline as he became more and more injury prone with each season.
He had the potential to be a star player for the Tigers for years to come. However, his defensive skills were nonexistent, and he lacked the attitude of a true professional. Because of these reasons and his reoccuring injuries, the Tigers released Sanchez.
Sanchez would then go on to become the first player in MLB history to be suspended for violating the new drug policy.
"Who's Your Tiger?"
While many may believe this season was a success on many levels, the 2006 Detroit Tigers were still a huge letdown for many reasons.
First of all, the Tigers were off to an incredible start and entered August of that year with an astounding 76-36 record. However, as the season progressed, the Tigers would begin their descent.
On the first day of October during 2009, the Tigers would give up their lead in the AL Central after a crushing loss to the Kansas City Royals in extra innings. They would then go on to lose their last five games of the regular season, finish 19-31 in their final 50 games and, in essence, "back into the playoffs" as the AL Wild Card.
While they were able to defeat the New York Yankees in the ALDS and beat the Oakland Athletics in dramatic walk-off fashion in the ALCS, they were sufficiently handled by the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. The Tigers were only able to manage one win during the World Series.
The Tigers pitchers had a combined ERA of 3.00 during the World Series compared to the 2.00 combined ERA of the Cardinals pitching staff. Detroit's combined batting average was an abysmal .199.
Overall, this team may have made it to baseball's biggest stage, but they did not produce when they got there.
In the wake of one of the worst seasons in franchise history, the Tigers signed two-time Gold Glove winner Fernando Vina to a two year deal.
However, they did not get much in return. Vina would only play a total of 29 games during the 2004 season. In those games, he would hit for a .226 average and only knock in seven RBIs.
Vina had a season-ending knee surgery to repair the torn cartilage in his knee, and this is the primary reason he would go on to retire after the 2004 season.
It is hard not to feel sympathy for the Tigers in this situation. Detroit felt they were getting a player who may help them resurrect a team after one of the worst seasons in MLB history; instead, they got a player who wouldn't even play in a sixth of the games during the 2004 season.
While Joel Zumaya has shown that he has the ability to be a dominant pitcher in this league, the fact remains that he has still only completed one major league season.
During 2006, Zumaya was a pleasant surprise coming out of the Tigers bullpen. When "Zoom,Zoom" Zumaya came running out, fans knew they were going to something special, and there is not question that a 102 mph fastball is something incredibly special. He would finish that season with a 1.94 ERA.
However, Zumaya's career would quickly take a turn down a dark path.
After his alleged "Guitar Hero" injury of 2006, he has never been the same. Every season since then has ended in some type of arm injury.
Now, Zumaya is looking for a new job, and it remains to be seen if a team will actually take a chance on him.
The 2008 Detroit Tigers were supposed to be a special team.
With Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis recently acquired and Gary Sheffield added to the mix in free agency, hopes were high in the Motor City.
Many members of the national and local media were picking this Tigers team to not only win the AL Central, but to be serious contenders for a World Series championship.
However, all of these hopes quickly faded away in the wake of an 0-7 start to the season.
From start to finish, there were very few bright spots for this team. No pitcher on the team, starter or reliever, had an ERA below 3.29 during the 2008 season.
The Tigers finished the 2008 season with a 74-88 record, which was enough to get them last place in the division and a total of 14.5 games behind the division-winning White Sox.
In what can only be labeled as one of the worst trades in Tigers history, Detroit acquired Edgar Renteria for potential star Jair Jurrjens.
In an effort to replace the injured Carlos Guillen, the Tigers desperately needed to make a move. They thought they were getting the player who hit .332 a season before and won two Gold Gloves at shortstop.
However, what the Tigers received was a sub-par player who only managed to hit .270 while played extremely average defense. In an effort to improve both their offense and defense to make it back to the postseason, Renteria fell extremely short of expectations.
Just to make the wound hurt a bit more, Jair Jurrjens transforms into an All-Star pitcher for the Atlanta Braves. This trade still stings.
Upon hearing the news of Jarrod Washburn coming to Detroit, Leyland stated, "We've got a pitcher who's had a hot hand; I think he'll be a great addition for us."
Boy, was he wrong.
While he came to Detroit with a lot of hype, Washburn was never the same after putting on the old English D.
After starting the 2009 season in Seattle with an 8-6 record, including a 2.64 ERA in 20 games, Washburn let down the Tigers and their fans in a big way. He would go on to pitch only four games for the Tigers, in which he accumulated a 7.33 ERA, while opposing hitters were simply dominating everything he had by going .300 against him.
His season would end prematurely due to a knee injury, and Washburn has not pitched a game in the league ever since.
Who knows what would have happened if the Tigers had actually received the Jarrod Washburn that Seattle was privileged to for the first half of 2009.
This was a rough season to endure.
While the Tigers finished the season 86-77, they were, once again, on the outside looking into the playoffs. Tigers fans across the great state of Michigan watched as their beloved team dwindled away their seven-game division lead in the month of September, including the two-game lead they were barely holding onto during the final week of the season.
Miguel Cabrera, who was undoubtedly battling demons of his own, decided to go out with one of the White Sox players the night before the biggest game he'd play in a Tigers uniform. He then proceeded to get drunk, stumble home and get in an altercation with his wife, who would then call police.
If this wasn't enough, the Tigers managed to salvage an opportunity to make the postseason by playing the Minnesota Twins in a play-in game for the AL Central title. They would go on to lose this game in 6-5 in a thrilling 12-inning affair.
The Tigers, who led the division for 146 days, were the first team in Major League Baseball history to lose a three-game lead with only four games left to play.
There is not much to say here except 43-119. The 2003 Detroit Tigers became the single worst team in American League history and fell one game short of tying the 1962 Mets for the worst team ever in MLB history.
This team was obviously in last place in the AL Central, but the way they accomplished this was hard to watch.
No starting pitcher on the staff had an ERA lower than 4.67, and only one pitcher on the entire Tigers roster had an ERA lower than 3.5. Mike Maroth was the best pitcher on the staff, as he was the only pitcher to win nine games (he also lost 21 games). This Tigers team accumulated a league-low .240 batting average, and not one of the players on this roster had a batting average over .300.
Some may argue that this season was not a letdown. Many fans may remember that upon beating the Twins in the final game of the season to avoid tying the Mets for the worst record in MLB history, the crowd gave the Tigers a standing ovation.
No one truly expected this Tigers team to contend; however, no one expected them to be one of the worst teams to ever step on a major league field.