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…
#8 Starting Pitcher Doug Fister
Let’s be honest sometimes we like a player because of his nickname. Doug “the fist” Fister certainly has that going for him. Especially when he played for the Tigers in Detroit which in fact has a large statue of a fist right downtown for all to see. Fister, in the overall history of Tigers’ fandom, marks two distinct events. His arrival at the trade deadline deal in 2011 which was one of the bigger deadline moves made by Dave Dombroski to get his roster back to the World Series. OF course as the Tigers’ payroll exploded we all knew one of the five starting pitchers was going to have to be dealt…but most of us assumed in would be Rick Porcello (of course both were eventually dealt). The Fister trade to the Washington Nationals was the point were the fans started to turn on Dombrowksi. He did not get anywhere near enough in return for what was a very good talent that fit this starting rotation very well.
Not even three years later none of the return for Fister is still on the roster. Dombrowski has been fired and is now in charge of the Boston Red Sox who have Porcello as a expensive piece of their rotation.
I never really understood why Dombrowski never seemed to value Fister. In two plus seasons in Detroit he would go 32-20 with a 3.29 ERA. Remember he was the fourth starter here and those are pretty good fourth started numbers. No, he did not have a high 90’s fastball and it would seem that is the only metric Dombroski values in starting pitchers. I think that is a flawed approach (not that having aguy with a lights out fastball isn’t good but no team can afford to have five such hurlers) and I also happen to believe that his mishandling of this asset was one of the larger reasons he got fired mid season 2015.
In a lot of ways Fister was the piece that got this team back to the World Series. Much like Doyle Alexander he would be lights out in the stretch run of 2011 going 8-1 to get this team to the playoffs. The only other negative I see in his performance is not being able to get to the seventh inning in the post season. That is certainly an issue given how Dombrowski liked to construct his bullpens (or just ignore them in the ridiculous belief Bruce Rondon was the answer to all his bullpen ills).
Now it may seem silly to have a guy that only played two years in Detroit this high on a list of favorite players…but I interviewed Kyle Petty once and he told me that there is no logical reason why a fan forms an emotional attachment to a player (of course he was talking about NASCAR drivers). I think that point is very valid. It is what makes being a fan of a team so much fun…the randomness of who becomes fan favorites and who does not (I am of course talking about Prince Fielder).
In the end I would have dealt Porcello before the 2014 season. A move that maybe would have left enough payroll to sign Max Scherzer then, or maybe enough to get a deal done before the 2015 season. At the very least it would have left payroll flexibility and kept a nice piece in the back end of the rotation.