In 1923, the Tigers continued to gradually phase out older players and replace them with younger men.
The biggest case in point was in left field, where 35-year-old Bobby Veach became a part-time player in favor of youngster Heinie Manush, who was only 21 when the season began.
But it wasn't all about youth. Shortly after the 1922 World Series, the Tigers traded veteran pitcher Howard Ehmke to Boston for 35-year-old utility man Del Pratt.
Once again, the Tigers had an offense that could challenge any in the American League. But once again, the Tigers didn't have the pitching to be a serious contender.
But if you liked big numbers, the Tigers were the team for you. They batted an even .300 as a team and scored an average of 5.4 runs per game. Just as the year before, the roster was teeming with .300 hitters, and in player-manager Ty Cobb and Harry Heilmann in the outfield, the Tigers had arguably the best 1-2 punch in the league. Heilmann won the batting title by surpassing the coveted .400 mark (.403).
Sadly, the numbers were almost as big for the Tigers' opponents whenever they faced Tigers pitching!
It was almost a carbon copy of 1922, in that the Tigers treaded water around the .500 mark almost the entire summer before surging slightly late in August. Once again, it was too little, too late, and the final pitch of the season saw the Tigers finish 83-71, though that did represent a slight improvement for the second season in a row.
Veteran hurler Hooks Dauss won the Tigers' pitching Triple Crown, leading the team in wins, strikeouts and ERA.
The good news was that the Tigers were a second place team in 1923. The bad news was that the first place New York Yankees were a dot in the distance, some 16 games ahead of Cobb's team.
Speaking of Cobb, he "slipped" to .340 from his .401 of the year before, and though no one who followed the Tigers wanted to acknowledge it, the bottom line was that Cobb would be 37 years old before the 1924 season began. Was the 61-point drop in his batting average a sign of an impending fadeout to a great career?
Only time would tell. Meanwhile, the Tigers were slowly improving as a team and had their sights set on another league pennant in the near future.
HR: Heilmann (18)
RBI: Heilmann (115)
BA: Heilmann (.403)
Wins: Hooks Dauss (21)
K: Dauss (105)
ERA: Dauss (3.62)
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