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…
#6 Center Fielder Austin Jackson
For me Austin Jackson and Curtis Granderson are very comparable players. Very popular, very talented players who were immensely likable. They were both extremely popular Detroit Tigers and it seems a shame that only one of them will make my list. It is just to hard to separate the two…so I am going with Austin Jackson because of what was his final act here in Detroit.
Of course they were both part of the big trade that brought the Tigers a new, more affordable center fielder to patrol the large spaces of Comerica Park, Starting Pitcher Max Scherzer (who won’t make the list because of Scott Boras), and relief pitcher Phil Coke. There was another player netted by the Tigers in hat three way deal but he is of no consequence.
Two things stand out to me about Jackson’s Detroit tenure. The first is him saving Armando Galarraga’s no hitter (and I don’t care what the jackass umpire says, that my fellow Tigers fans was a no hitter). The second is the standing ovation he received when he was pulled from the game on trade dealing day in 2015 and we all knew that his time wearing the Old English D was at an end. That was the three team deal that brought David Price to town. So Austin came to town as part of a three team deal, and left as part of a three team deal which to me makes him that much more special.
While he did finish second in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2010 I think his best season in Detroit was 2012. He would hit .300 with an OBP of .377. The key stat for me is the 134 strike outs. That was the second lowest number of strikeouts in his time in Detroit. 134 is probably too still too many for a lead off hitter but it was down significantly from his high of 181 the year before. Maybe Hitting Coaches have a bigger affect than we the Detroit baseball fans ever want to admit.