Team 94: The 1995 Tigers

Blake VandeBunteContributor INovember 11, 2009

12 Apr 1998:  Infielder Cecil Fielder of the Anaheim Angels in action during a game against the Cleveland Indians at Jacobs Field in Cleveland, Ohio.  The Angels won the game, 12-1. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart  /Allsport
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
  • Year: 1995
  • Record: 60-84 (late start due to 1994 strike)
  • Win Percentage: .417
  • Win Percentage Change: -44
  • Run Differential: -190
  • Pythagorean Record: 55-89
  • AL Finish: 12th of 14
  • Manager: Sparky Anderson
  • Best Transaction: Traded Mike Henneman to the Houston Astros for Phil Nevin.  Henneman was lights-out for the Tigers during the first half of the 1995 season.  He had a 1.53 ERA on Aug. 10 when this deal went down. He was on pace for several career-bests, but was 33 years old, coming off an awful season and playing for a terrible club.  Hence the trade. Nevin would go onto make an All-Star team and drive in 100 runs four different times.  Sure, none of this happened with the Tigers, but still.
  • Worst Transaction: Traded Tony Phillips to the California Angels for Chad Curtis.  I hated this when it happened and I hate it now.  Phillips was one of my favorite players as a kid and this one stung.  Phillips could play anywhere on the diamond and drew walks before it was cool to do so.  After this trade, Phillips had seasons where he boasted walk totals of 113, 125 and 102.  He did that when he was on the wrong side of 35.  Curtis was okay with Detroit, but lasted just one full season before getting traded.  He could run, stealing 27 bases in 1995, but he was usually amongst the league leaders in being caught, as well.
  • Upper: Return from the strike. This was a weird time in Major League Baseball.  They lost a lot of fans after the strike and still have yet to earn some of those fans back.  I knew people during this time who swore they would never watch MLB again and they would stick strictly to minor league ball, where money wasn’t the issue it was in the bigs.  I remember being really excited when the strike ended.  I was glad to see my guys back on the field.  This season was highlighted by Lou Whitaker slugging 14 homers in only 280-some at-bats at the age of 38.  Cecil Fielder continued to slug and the Tigers got decent pitching from David Wells and Mike Henneman before shipping them out of Detroit.
  • Downer:  The David Wells trade stunk from the start.  Wells was traded at mid-season to the Reds for CJ Nitkowski.  The Tigers pitched Nitkowski to us fans as a future ace, but that never came close to happening.  He had a few decent seasons in the bigs as a reliever and was once kind enough to do an interview with me for this site.  However, he was no David Wells.  The Tigers team ERA in 1995 was 5.50.  Sure this was during the steroid era, but 5.50 was bad and David Wells was good.  At the time of the trade, Wells was 10-3 with an ERA of 3.04.  Wells would win 166 games after this trade.  Ouch.
  • Summary:  The Tiger actually played decent ball during the first half of the season, posting a 37-33 record.  However, they were playing a bit over their heads, then traded off their two best pitchers for minor-league players.  The second half was a disaster as the Tigers limped to a 23-51 finish.  It was also a bummer that Sparky Anderson had to go out on such a negative note.  Not only did the Tigers suck, in their last home game with Sparky at the helm, they lost 13-1 to a young Mike Mussina.  The amateur draft gave the Tigers little to build with and the club faced a long climb back up to respectability.