The Tigers were a team in transition as the baseball calendar flipped to 1917.
The year began with the Tigers selling pitching mainstay Jean Dubuc to Chattanooga.
Aging outfielder Sam Crawford, looking every bit of his 37 years, would get barely 100 at-bats in 1917, hitting below .200. His replacement in RF was young Harry Heilmann. Catcher Oscar Stanage was on his last legs. And the pitching staff was almost totally overhauled, with Bernie Boland and Bill James garnering more starts than ever before as Tigers, the departure of Dubuc, and the debut of young Howard Ehmke. The only constant was reliable Hooks Dauss. Even Harry Coveleski only managed to start 11 games.
Yet there were mainstays returning, like Ty Cobb, Bobby Veach, George Burns and Donie Bush.
But when the bell rang, the transition proved to be rocky at best.
The Tigers struggled mightily for much of the first half of the season to cross the mediocre .500 standard. And by the time they created separation between themselves and 50/50, it was early-August and the Tigers were 11 games behind first place in the middle of the AL pack.
Mediocre wasn't the word to describe Cobb, however. The Georgia Peach had another mind-blowing season, slapping 225 hits---including 44 doubles and 24 triples. All three totals led the league, as did his average, which was a whopping .383.
Heilmann, in his first full season, was pretty good, batting .281. The third outfielder, veteran Bobby Veach, batted .319 and led the Tigers in RBI with 103, nosing out Cobb by one ribbie.
But there wasn't any long stretch of baseball when the Tigers were above average; if you had to grade them for the season, you'd be hard-pressed to give them higher than a C+.
Which, of course, wouldn't come close to cutting it. The Tigers finished 78-75, a distant fourth place, 21-1/2 games out of first.
The "team in transition" could only hope that their future was bright after all the comings and goings.
HR: Veach (8)
RBI: Veach (103)
BA: Cobb (.383)
Wins: Dauss (17)
K: Dauss (102)
ERA: James (2.09)
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