Fans of the Tigers weren't sure if their team was truly improving or just had a .500+ year as a fluke, as the 1915 season dawned.
But those who would look at the glass as half full would have pointed to the Tigers being able to go 80-73 in 1914 without the services of the inimitable Ty Cobb for over 50 games.
And don't forget the emergence of pitching surprise Harry Coveleski, and this young outfielder who was supposed to have great potential: Harry Heilmann. Plus, of course, Cobb was healthy and that had to be a good thing too, right?
Turns out that the optimists were the ones with the 20/20 foresight, when it came to the 1915 Tigers.
The team got off to another fast start, as it did in 1914. But this time, there was no fade. In fact, the Tigers got better as the season droned on.
On July 4, a traditional milepost when it comes to handicapping pennant races, the Tigers sat just 3-1/2 games behind the Chicago White Sox, in second place. From that point on, the Tigers went 58-27, which would normally be a pace good enough to erase any deficit of that size.
But the Boston Red Sox, in third place on July 4, played even better, closing the season on a 64-26 tear---over .700 baseball---and winning the pennant with a 101-50 record, compared to the second-place Tigers' 100-54 mark.
Individually speaking, Cobb was back to his old ways, slamming 208 hits, scoring 144 runs, and stealing a record 96 bases, a mark that would hold for nearly 50 years before being broken by Maury Wills of the Dodgers in 1962. Cobb batted .369 in 1915, again leading the league in that category.
Heilmann wasn't quite ready and didn't play for the Tigers in 1915. But underrated Bobby Veach, the Tigers' third outfielder, had a great year, batting .313 and tying teammate Sam Crawford for the league lead in RBI with 112.
Hooks Dauss won 24 games and Coveleski added 22 wins.
After the season, Tigers fans could only hope that their team was back among the annual pennant contenders in the American League.
HR: George Burns (5)
RBI: Veach, Crawford (112)
BA: Cobb (.369)
Wins: Dauss (24)
K: Coveleski (150)
ERA: Coveleski (2.45)
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