Single Season and Two Season Detroit Tigers

Recently I was going through some older baseball cards and came across a Hideo Nomo card from when he played with the Tigers for a single season in 2000. This got me to thinking who else I could recall playing for Detroit for one year before leaving, retiring, etc. 

In my research I came to the realization this the single season player is a more recent occurrence, whether it be from trade deadline deals for players with expiring contracts, guys trying to prove they deserve a bigger contract and playing on a 1-year to do so, or maybe it was a prospect called up that we traded away. 

Over the span of the Tigers 117-year existence in the Majors, I was only able to pull a handful of notables (21 to be exact), so I researched further on two-season guys, and was quite happy with my finds. Additionally, on my list below, I added a few failed top prospect types that the common fan will never remember. Here’s what I found with a few notes (btw, skipping 2018 and guys like Mike Fiers)…

Yoenis Cespedes (2015) – Cespedes was a Tiger killer while with the Athletics and Detroit acquired Yoenis in the offseason before 2015, for Rick Porcello. Cespedes played in 102 games in Detroit, collecting 18 homers and 61 RBI, before being traded at the deadline to the Mets (for Michael Fulmer). Cespedes became a free-agent after the 2015 season

Alfredo Simon (2015) – This one hurt, as Detroit was looking for a rotation piece, but I feel like everyone knew Simon would fail. He did, starting 31 games, collecting a 5.05 ERA and a 1.439 WHIP. What really hurts is we traded away future All-Star Eugenio Suarez for Simon

Eugenio Suarez (2014) – Was in the Tigers Minor Leagues for six seasons before being called up. He hit .242 with 4 homers in 85 games with Detroit as a 24-year old. Now in his 5th Major League season, Suarez was an All-Star and hit .283 with 34 homers and 104 RBI

Wilson Betemit (2011) – Trade deadline guy to shore up the offense. Detroit gave up very little to KC for him

Brad Penny (2011) – Penny was a one-year free-agent signee guy hanging on. He started 31 games and that about all I have to say…

Johnny Damon (2010) – Totally forgot that he played in Detroit, but my wife didn’t. Strange. Damon was a one-year free agent signing and hit .271 with 8 homers and 51 RBI while in Detroit

Edwin Jackson (2009) – Had thought Jackson pitched in Detroit far more than just a year. We received him for Matt Joyce and traded him away the following season in a 3-team blockbuster that included Curtis Granderson. The Tigers return, Phil Coke, Max Scherzer, and Daniel Schlereth. Man, I miss David Dombrowski!!

A.J. Hinch (2003) – Totally forgot the future Houston Astros manager played in Detroit

Juan Gonzalez (2000) – Not surprising Igor is on this list as he wanted nothing to do with Detroit after being traded here as a ploy to draw attendance to the new ballpark. I can’t tell you how many fly ball outs I saw him hit that landed where the bullpen is now

Hal Morris (2000) – Another guy I forgot about. Morris was a University of Michigan product and a career .300 hitter (.304). Detroit was his last stop in a 13-year career

Hideo Nomo (2000) – Pitched in Detroit after a ballooning career ERA saw him bounce to a few places by the time he got to Detroit. At age 31, Nomo threw 190 innings, where he had a 4.74 ERA and 1.474 WHIP

Joe Randa (1999) – started out as a Royal, was traded, and landed in Detroit in his 3rd season. His .690 OPS was the lowest of his career outside of his rookie season but gloved the ball really well. Randa was traded after ’99 for Willie Blair and went on to have a solid career

Luis Gonzalez (1999) – Gonzalez played for Houston and the Cubs for nine seasons before landing in Detroit. He hit fairly well and started to find his power stroke (23 homers) as he made his way to 57 homers and World Series glory in 2001

Bip Roberts (1999) – Had to include Roberts on the list, as he was my dad’s favorite player due to his name

Bob Hamelin (1997) – Yup, no idea. The 1994 Rookie of the Year had the second-best season of his six-year career in Detroit

Greg Olson (1996) – Guess I was too busy partying in college to remember this. The 1989 Rookie of the Year had a 5.02 ERA in 43 appearances that season

Pete Incaviglia (1991) – Loved Inky, unfortunately he hit .214 with only 11 homers in Detroit

Ray Knight (1988) – The former Met was only a couple seasons removed from his World Series win, however was wrapping up his career in Detroitries win, however was wrapping up his career in Detroit

Bill Madlock (1987) – The four-time batting champ ended his career in Detroit

Dean Chance (1971) – The 1964 Cy Young award winner ended up in Detroit for his last season of his career

Wally Pipp (1913) – Pipp started his career as a Tiger, but when Jacob Ruppert bought the New York Yankees, the owners agreed to help the Yankees restock their system by selling prospects. Frank Navin followed through, however the rest of the owners did not

The Two-Season Tigers

Justin Upton (2014-2015) – Signed to a huge contract and was eventually traded mid-way through his second season to the Angels for essentially nothing

David Price (2014-2015) – The Tigers sent Austin Jackson, Drew Smyly, and Willy Adames to get Price as part of a 3-team trade. Detroit followed up by trading David the next season for Matthew Boyd, Jairo Labourt, and Daniel Norris

Prince Fielder (2012-2013) – Loved Prince, but happy we traded him after that large contract (even though we ate a large piece of it) for Ian Kinsler. Prince only played one full season more, before retiring early with neck issues

Gary Sheffield (2007-2008) – Shef was past his prime and only played one more season after Detroit. That said, still loved having him on the team!

Andrew Miller (2006-2007) – Worth trading a former #1 for Miguel Cabrera!

Eric Davis (1993-1994) – One of my favorite players while growing up, but the Reds version

Fred Lynn (1988-1989) – Can’t say I remember the former MVP and Rookie of the Year being in Detroit

Frank Howard (1972-1973) – Howard wrapped up his 16-year career in Detroit

Eddie Mathews (1967-1968) – Mathews is one of the guys I had thought of when I started writing this as I remember seeing a baseball card with him in a Tigers uniform. The Hall of Famer played 17-years but struggled the last two in Detroit

Dixie Walker (1938-1939) – More known for his career in Brooklyn, Walker was actually acquired somewhat early on in his career from the White Sox

Waite Hoyt (1930-1931) – The Tigers traded for Hoyt, who had won multiple rings already with the legendary Yankees of the ‘20’s. Unfortunately, he struggled in Detroit and was eventually claimed on waivers by the Philadelphia A’s

Kid Gleason (1901-1902) – The eventual manager for the 1919 Chicago White (Black) Sox

Other Two-Season Tigers

Joakim Soria (2014-2015), Delmon Young (2011-2012), Sean Casey (2006-2007), Rondell White (2004-2005), Greg Jeffries (1999-2000), Chad Curtis (1995-1996), Dan Gladden (1992-1993), Lloyd Moseby (1990-1991)

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