The player-manager arrangement with Ty Cobb wasn't exactly a success in 1921, but Cobb's play hadn't been affected by the dual roles, so as long as he was performing at such a high level, owner Frank Navin didn't see any compelling reason to not give Cobb another shot at doing both jobs in 1922.
It wasn't an Earth-shattering move, but the Tigers had a new second baseman for 1922: George Cutshaw, who'd been a reliable if not spectacular starter for Brooklyn and Pittsburgh in the National League for 10 years. And Cutshaw had a rookie double play partner at shortstop: Topper Rigney, a 25-year-old from Texas, who was replacing the aging Donie Bush. As if that wasn't enough, rookie Fred Haney had joined the team to help at third base.
But still in tact was the Tigers' outstanding outfield trio of Cobb in center, and Bobby Veach and Harry Heilmann in left and right, respectively.
Offenses across baseball were all the rage, after years of pitchers mostly dominating. The league batting average was .285 and the average ERA was 4.03 in 1922. The Tigers, in fact, had no less than 10 players bat .300 or higher.
Leading the way, as usual, was Cobb, who hit .401, the third time he topped the coveted .400 mark in his brilliant career. What's even more amazing was that Cobb did it at the ripe age of 35! Incredibly, Cobb's average was not only second best in the AL, but a DISTANT second behind St. Louis's George Sisler, who bashed the baseball to the tune of .420.
Heilmann hit .356 and Veach came in at .327. Heilmann also showed more of the power he displayed in 1921 as he slammed 21 home runs, a franchise record for a season.
But despite all this offense, the Tigers were a meager 79-75. In August, a mini-surge put them at 68-56 and 5-1/2 games behind first place. But they faded, and finished a distant third, 15 games behind first place New York and 14 behind second place St. Louis.
It was hardly the "year of the pitcher," though another rookie, Herman Pillette, won 19 games and posted a 2.85 ERA, which in the offense-rich American League was phenomenal.
There were some real shootouts, but the Tigers lost too many of them to be contenders.
Still, Cobb's team improved slightly from 1921. And with all the young players emerging, the future seemed bright.
HR: Heilmann (21)
RBI: Veach (126)
BA: Cobb (.401)
Wins: Pillette (19)
K: Howard Ehmke (108)
ERA: Pillette (2.85)
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