I have been a fan of the Detroit Tigers since the Summer of 1984. That means I am lucky enough to vividly remember my baseball team winning a World Series title, and waiting for them to win another. Since every year the team itself asks me who my Tiger is I decided to write about my favorite 25 Tigers since I became a fan…at eight years old…This has less to do with performance as it does with whatever intangible qualities Tigers’ players have…I mean this is the town that loved Brandon Inge and Don Kelly…and no neither one of those players will make my list…With all of that being said…
#25 Catcher Matt Nokes
Matt did not have a bunch of great seasons…in fact he might not have had any truly great seasons but he was the future of this organization during that magical campaign of 1987. 1987 was the year I learned how to follow baseball in the newspapers…a totally foreign concept now days…but I can remember waking up every morning to grab the Detroit News and check the standings…and then read over the box score from the game the previous day. I went to four Tiger games that year…the most games I attended in a season every year till I started covering the team as a job.
I had been a big Tigers fan for a few years at that point but 1987 was the year I became a stat nerd…My favorite Tigers players were still on this team although I do remember growing tired of Kirk Gibson during that season…When I would read over the box scores…when I attended games…it was Matt Nokes who started to grab my attention.
He was the future and during that season it seemed like the future was bright. Even though he split time behind the plate with Mike Heath…even though Lance Parrish was gone…it was exciting to have this young kid tearing it up. Nokes was an All Star that year, won a Silver Slugger, and finished third in Rookie of the Year voting. In a 135 games that year mostly as the catcher of DH Matt hit .289 with 133 hits, 32 home runs,87 RBI, and .345 OBP. By far his best season wearing the Old English D, and he would only come close to replicating those kind of numbers one more time in his career.
Nokes seemed like the future…the young talent that would help a aging core of veterans remain competitive in the American League East…it didn’t exactly work out that way but I will never forget him or the numbers he put up in 1987.