For the first time since 1907, the Tigers began the season without the title of "Defending league champions."
The Philadelphia A's were the new kings of the American League. Owner/manager Connie Mack's team was loaded, with such talent as Eddie Collins, Stuffy McInnis, Home Run Baker, and pitchers Eddie Plank and Jack Coombs.
But the Tigers were a good team, too, and they felt they could re-claim their pennant from the Athletics.
The Tigers once again found it difficult, once the season began, to keep up with the A's, but that was almost secondary to the monster season that Ty Cobb was unleashing on the rest of the league.
Cobb, in 1911, may have authored the best all-around season in the game's history. The numbers were absolutely staggering: a .420 BA (which would be his career best); 248 hits; 147 runs scored; 47 doubles; an amazing 24 triples; 127 RBI; an OBA of .467 and a slugging percentage of .621---without the benefit of the longball (Cobb only hit eight homers). Oh, and 83 stolen bases.
There was now no question that in Cobb, the Tigers had the best all-around player in all of baseball. So grand was Cobb's season that fellow outfielder Sam Crawford's .378 BA almost got lost in the shuffle! Combined, Cobb and Crawford had an astounding 465 hits. First baseman Jim Delahanty, of the famous baseball-playing Delahanty family, chipped in with a .339 BA and 94 RBI.
The individual performances turned in by Delahanty and the "C" boys were great, but it was also painfully evident that the Tigers simply didn't have the horses to contend with the Athletics, despite a fantastic start by the Detroiters.
The Tigers sprung out of the gate 20-2, leaving the 9-9 A's in their wake. But as the season progressed, the Athletics' superior talent took over and by mid-August, the A's had opened a three-game lead over the Bengals. After that 9-9 start, Mack's team went 60-29.
At season's end, the Tigers finished second, but a whopping 13 games behind Philadelphia.
A big reason for the Tigers' fade was their pitching, which finished seventh out of eight in team ERA (3.73). No Tigers pitcher registered an ERA below 3.00.
It was clear that the Tigers were no longer the elite team in the American League, but they had the elite player in Ty Cobb.By GregEno
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- Connie Mack, Detroit Tigers, Eddie Collins, Eddie Plank, Frank Baker, Jack Coombs, Jim Delahanty, Sam Crawford, Stuffy McInnis, Ty Cobb