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…
#19 Pitcher Doyle Alexander
During my fan hood of the Detroit Tigers two big arms have been added at the trade deadline. Both of them made my list…had the end result of their time in Detroit been more positive both of them may have wound up much higher.
The first of them is Doyle Alexander and to be perfectly honest had the 1987 Detroit Tigers won the World Series Doyle might be way higher…now considering what the Tigers gave up to get him maybe he shouldn’t be on the list at all. However, I know for a fact that without him the 1987 Tigers would not have made the playoffs…when we take the time to look up his post season numbers maybe they should have left him off the post season roster…however the failure of this team in the 1987 ALCS was a total collapse of the entire roster…Given how the season played out we should have saw it coming.
1987 was not like 1984 the Tigers battled the entire season to eventually win the AL East…on the last day of the season. At the trading deadline they dealt a unknown prospect named John Smoltz to Atlanta for Doyle Alexander. Doyle would go 9-0 down the stretch and had a 1.53 ERA. Everyone of us, old time sports fans, would trade our soul for a World Series title…the Tigers dealt a guy that would become one of the best pitchers of the next generation for a shot at a title…and came up way short.
Now its really to bad Doyle was never that good in a Tigers uniform again. He was decent through the first half of 1988…and was selected to his only All Star Game that year…but wound up with a 14-11 record and a ERA over 4…In 1989 his performance fell to 6-18.
Looking back on it, in the days before inter-league play, I think we can write off part of his dominance due to the hitters in the AL not being that use to him…granted he had a long history of play in the AL before that so maybe he just got fire for those final few months of 1987…and could never find that groove again. Had Doyle helped this team to another post season I think more Tigers fans would remember him with more fondness.
We also need to remember that Smoltz was a unknown here in Detroit when he was traded…and had he never gone on to do anything no one would care. We talk about the John Smoltz curse in jest…because old time baseball guys know when a team is that close to the post season they do anything and everything to get themselves over the hump. It very nearly worked…and had the entire roster performed better in the ’87 ALCS maybe they would have won the second World Series title we all thought those 1980’s Tigers teams should have won. Had that happened at least one of the core’s of those teams would be in Cooperstown and maybe the current ownership would have had to retire one of their numbers before they were gone…