Team 107: The 1996 Tigers

Blake VandeBunteContributor IOctober 29, 2009

25 Jun 1996:  Manager Buddy Bell of the Detroit Tigers walks onto the field during a game against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California.  The Tigers won the game 10-8. Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule Jr.  /Allsport
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
  • Year: 1996
  • Record: 53-109 (second most losses in franchise history)
  • Win Percentage: .327
  • Win Percentage Change: -90 from the year before
  • Run Differential: -320
  • Pythagorean Record: 56-106
  • AL Finish: 14th of 14 teams
  • Manager: Buddy Bell
  • Best Transaction: This one is arguably Randy Smith’s best move as GM of the Tigers, he sent pitcher Greg Gohr to the Angels for Damion Easley. Gohr was a bust with the Tigers and the Angels thought they could get him on track. Prior to coming to Detroit, Easley was a light-hitting 2B. Gohr kept up his poor performance, but Easley blossomed into an All-Star. If you ignore the huge contract the Tigers would later give Easley, this is just an amazing steal for the Tigers.
  • Worst Transaction: Randy Smith was notorious for his terrible drafts.  The 1996 draft was plain awful and was highlighted by the Tigers taking Seth Greisinger with the sixth pick overall. Greisinger would struggle with injures throughout the minors and went 10-16 in the big leagues with an ERA over 5.00. Some of the players drafted after Greisinger include Eric Chavez, Gil Meche, Milton Bradley, and Jimmy Rollins.
  • Upper: Bobby Higginson had a monster year in 1996. Then only 25 years old, Higginson sported his cannon arm in the outfield and hit .320. In addition to his high average and stellar defense, Higginson hit 26 HR and posted an OPS-plus of 145. Higginson did all of this in only his second season in the big leagues and on an obviously-awful team.
  • Downer: The Tigers were clearly going nowhere, but it still stung when they decided to trade Cecil Fielder. Fielder was shipped to the New York Yankees on July 31 for a washed up Ruben Sierra and a total bust in pitcher Matt Drews.

    Even though the Tigers were struggling to make money, Cecil still put butts in the seats, simply because of his power. He had a pretty amazing run in Detroit, coming out of nowhere in 1990 to hit 51 home runs and slugging his way to All-Star games after that.
  • Summary: This was manager Buddy Bell’s first season, and he was the club's first manager after Sparky Anderson left at the end of 1995. Bell had some tough shoes to fill and a bad team to try and make it happen.

    The Tigers used 27 pitchers in 1996 and none of them were really worth a damn. Omar Olivares was the staff “ace” and led the club with seven wins. Seriously. Seven wins was enough to lead the team in wins that year. Of the Tigers 27 pitchers, 16 of them finished their time with the Tigers in 1996 with an ERA above of 6.00. Let that sink in for a second.

    This team was just a total disaster. Damion Easley saw some time at the end of the season and played pretty well, ditto for guys like Curtis Pride and Justin Thompson.

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