The Tigers experienced, in 1927, their first season without Ty Cobb since the early-1900s, and it went better than most people thought: with a winning record.
Now that Cobb was out of their system, it was time for the franchise to look forward. And it wasn't like the team had no talent after Cobb's departure.
Harry Heilmann was a fixture in right field, and was among the best hitters in the game, a la Cobb. Joining Heilmann in the outfield were left fielder Bob Fothergill, a solid .300 hitter, and newcomer Harry Rice in center, who was acquired in the off-season from the St. Louis Browns. Rice had hit .300+ in two of his first three years in the big leagues.
Second base was now in the capable hands of Charlie Gehringer, who was everything the Tigers hoped he would be, and then some. The offense, simply put, wasn't the Tigers' concern, just as it hadn't been for years.
Their main problems, as usual, happened on the mound in 1928. The Tigers were seventh out of eight American League teams in overall ERA; they were getting used to such a showing when it came to pitching.
The Tigers did get a good year out of 25-year-old right-hander Ownie Carroll, who won 16 games and posted a fine ERA of 3.27. But the rest of the staff couldn't come close to Carroll's performance.
By mid-May, the Tigers were 12-23 and essentially out of pennant contention before the season was too old. In late-July, the Tigers were in last place at 35-55. One month later, a hot spell lifted them to fourth place. But still, the Tigers were some 26 games out of first place.
In the end, the Tigers found themselves in sixth place with a 68-86 mark--quite a letdown from 1927. It was looking like the gamble to pluck manager George Moriarty from the umpiring ranks had been a bust.By GregEno
- Bob Fothergill, Charlie Gehringer, Detroit Tigers, George Moriarty, Harry Heilmann, Harry Rice, Ownie Carroll, Ty Cobb