once before and found it interesting…or at least something different to talk about. I’ll take the team the current Tigers sent out for a game and compare them to a Tigers team of the past (from a lineup of the same date) in one of my Catfights.
This time, I’ll use last night’s lineup against that of the last Tigers team to win a division, the 1987 Tigers. Both lineups and pitchers used in this piece come from the date of August 11th. We’ll go position by position and see how this 2011 team matches up.
But first, some fun facts on that 8/11/87 Tigers-White Sox game. Detroit won 9-6 to push their record to 64-46, 1 ½ games back in the division. Three future managers played in the contest (Trammell, Gibson, Guillen), as well as one future GM (Ken Williams), and one future Hall of Gamer (Fisk). Trammell had the only Tiger homer in the game to go along with his 4 RBI.
Anyway, let’s begin at catcher and go around the horn.
1987: Matt Nokes
2011: Alex Avila
Advantage: Push. Avila’s not going to approach the 32 homers that Nokes put up in his miracle year, but he makes up for it in defense and other extra base hits. Matt only hit 14 doubles all season in ’87 with his 32 bombs…I don’t even know how that’s possible. He was still a beast, though, before fizzling out in the following years. Hopefully AA doesn’t do likewise.
1987: Darrell Evans
2011: Miguel Cabrera
Advantage: 2011’s Cabrera, obviously. Darrell’s a long-time favorite of mine, but no one can really be compared to the hitting machine known as Miguel Cabrera.
1987: Lou Whitaker
2011: Carlos Guillen
Advantage: 1987. Lou only hit .265 with 16 homers in ’87. That’s still fifty points higher than than Zombie Guillen’s currently putting up. Also, every time a ball was hit Whitaker’s way, there wasn’t an audible gasp from the crowd in anticipation of an error/injury taking place at second.
1987: Jim Morrison
2011: Wilson Betemit
Advantage: 2011. I have no memory of Morrison, other than his brilliant performances fronting the Doors before getting into baseball. But Morrison was the guy that the Tigers traded Darnell Coles for in a deal with Pittsburgh that didn’t quite pan out. Betemit’s a solid player that Leyland doesn’t seem to trust quite yet, for some reason. But he’s better than the .205 hitter Morrison was in Detroit.
1987: Alan Trammell
2011: Jhonny Peralta
Advantage: 1987. As great as Long Jhon has been this year, Tram was on a different planet in ’87 hitting .343 with 28 homers. Sadly, he would get jobbed out of the MVP award to George Bell. I hope Bell’s currently homeless and giving BJ’s for nickels somewhere.
1987: Kirk Gibson
2011: Ryan Raburn
Advantage: 1987. Kirk Gibson is still worshipped by Tiger fans 24 years later, while every Tiger fan that isn’t Your Party Host wants to impale Ryno’s head on a wooden stake.
1987: Chet Lemon
2011: Austin Jackson
Advantage: 1987 again. Lemon, my choice for most underrated Tiger EVER, hit .277 with 20 homers that year. AJax has played awesome D, but has struggled like a mofo with the stick this year. Hopefully, better things are to come.
1987: Pat Sheridan
2011: Magglio Ordonez
Advantage: 2011. Hear me out. I know Magglio’s struggled this year. But Sheridan hit only .259 with 6 homers in 473 plate appearances. Magglio’s had 200 fewer at bats so far due to injury, and I think he’ll easily eclipse Sheridan’s numbers in time. Also, would you really take Pat friggin’ Sheridan over Magglio Ordonez in a key at bat in a game? If so, eat diseased shit and die.
1987: Bill Madlock
2011: Victor Martinez
Advantage: 2011. I loved me some “Mad Dog” as a kid, but VMart’s one of the best pure hitters I’ve ever seen.
1987: Frank Tanana
2011: Justin Verlander
Advantage: 2011. Come on…that’s not fair to poor Frank. Tanana’s one of my childhood heroes with the amazing amount of junk that he featured on the mound, but JV’s a cyborg that cannot be defeated by any mortal man.
1987: Mike Henneman and Willie Hernandez
2011: Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde
Advantage: 2011. Here’s an odd fact for you. Eric King actually led the ’87 team in saves with 9. Hernandez (8 sv) was struggling and just about done, while Henneman (7 sv) was just getting started. I’ll take the sometimes shaky Benoit and the lights-out Valverde over them here.
1987: Sparky Anderson
2011: Jim Leyland
Advantage: 1987. Sparky’s a Hall of Famer, and to me and most Tiger cubs of the 80’s, a God. Leyland’s an asshole that I partially blame for most things that go wrong in my life.
Final: 2011 Tigers win! 6-5-1
I didn’t see that coming. But at least for the August 11th lineups, the current team looks better than the famous ’87 team.
Verlander’s not just a stopper this season, but in stupid fantasy matchups. What CAN’T that man do?