2006 Detroit Tigers
2006 Detroit Tigers / Franchise: Detroit Tigers / BR Team Page
Clinched Wild Card: September 24, 2006, At Kansas City Royals
Won AL Pennant
Managed by Jim Leyland
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2006 Detroit Tigers are one of the famous "turnaround teams" of all time. Only three years earlier, in 2003, the team lost a stupendous 119 games, and even in 2005 the Tigers were well under .500, going 71-91. Some of the credit will undoubtedly go to veteran manager Jim Leyland, who took over the team in 2006 after not having managed in the majors since 1999.
As of August 8th, the Tigers were on their way to winning around 109 games, which would have made them one of the top teams of all time. Curiously, they received little attention for it. In contrast, the 1984 Tigers, also a terrific team, got a large amount of attention after starting the season on an unstoppable winning trend.
The Tigers had a notorious swoon in August and September, failing to even win the division - they finished one game behind the Minnesota Twins with a record of 95 wins and 67 losses. But they did win the AL Wild Card and came back strong in the postseason to reach the 2006 World Series, winning seven consecutive games against the favored New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics after losing Game 1 of the ALDS to the Yankees.
The 2006 Tigers were a very deep team with no MVP candidates of note. No Tiger player hit 30+ home runs (Craig Monroe led the team with 28), and no Tiger player was in the top 10 in the league in RBI. Magglio Ordonez had 104 RBI, but 113 RBI were necessary to get into the top 10). No Tiger player was in the top 10 in slugging percentage either, and none was in the top 5 in batting average (although Carlos Guillen was # 9). Brandon Inge hit 27 home runs and provided some "highlight reel" plays at third base.
On the other hand, the team had the lowest ERA in the American League and four reliable starting pitchers in Kenny Rogers, Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson and 2006 American League Rookie of the Year Award winner Justin Verlander; all of them won at least 13 games, and pitched at least 186 innings. Fellow rookie Joel Zumaya topped 100 mph frequently out of the bullpen and joined with holdover Fernando Rodney to provide setup work for closer Todd Jones (37 saves).
Unfortunately, the Tigers headed into the World Series and faced a hotter team in the St. Louis Cardinals. Despite finishing the season with an 83-78 record and being an underdog in many minds, the Cardinals found new life in the postseason, playing sound ball and outpitching the Tigers, who had a horrible problem with their defense, which contributed to the Cardinals' momentum. Kenny Rogers had Detroit's lone victory and the Tigers ended their season on the losing end of the World Series.
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: Magglio Ordonez, Ivan Rodriguez and Kenny Rogers
- AL Rookie of the Year Award: Justin Verlander
- AL Gold Glove: Ivan Rodriguez (C) and Kenny Rogers (P)
- Topps All-Star Rookie Team: Justin Verlander (RhP)
- AL Manager of the Year Award: Jim Leyland
- Associated Press: "Win and in: Tigers clinch first playoff berth since 1987", ESPN.com, September 25, 2006