Yesterday, we polled you to see who the BYB faithful think is the greatest player to ever don a Detroit Tigers uniform. To no one's surprise, Ty Cobb took 58% of the vote, well ahead of the 22% that went to the second place total.
*Played for the Philadelphia Athletics from 1927-1928.
Cobb was born in Narrows, Georgia on December 18th, 1886. He debuted with the Tigers in 1905, the first of 22 seasons he would spend with the club. He hit .240/.288/.300 in 41 games during his rookie season with one home run, 15 RBI, and two stolen bases. This would be the only of his 24 seasons where he did not hit for a .300 batting average.
Cobb led the Tigers to three consecutive American League pennants from 1907 to 1909, but the team did not win a World Series during his career. He won the first of nine consecutive batting titles starting in 1907. Overall, he won 12 batting titles, though there was a dispute over whether Cobb was the rightful winner in 1910 in a close race with Cleveland's Nap Lajoie.
Over the course of his illustrious career, Cobb set 90 MLB records, many of which still stand today. Among his many accomplishments are the following:
- 23 consecutive seasons with a .300 average.
- 12 batting titles, including nine consecutive from 1907-1915.
- He won the Triple Crown in 1909 with a .377 average, nine home runs, and 107 RBI.
- He ranks second all-time in hits, fourth in doubles, second in triples, second in runs scored, and fifth in total bases.
- His .366 career batting average is the highest in MLB history.
- He ranks fourth all-time in fWAR, seventh in wOBA, and seventh in wRC+.
For this, Cobb was part of the inaugural class of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936. Of the five players inducted -- the others being Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, and Honus Wagner -- Cobb received the highest percentage of votes at 98.2%. Only Cal Ripken Jr., Nolan Ryan, and Tom Seaver have ever been inducted with a higher percentage of votes.
He was not without fault, however. Cobb's accomplishments may be matched by the amount of scorn he has received over the years for his surly temperament and disdain for others. In particular, Cobb was outspoken against minorities, though his stance softened after his playing days. Cobb was infamous for sliding into bases with his spikes up, and he was involved in many off-field incidents throughout his career.
Despite his personal issues, Cobb was one of the best baseball players of all-time. His accomplishments speak for themselves, and he is a deserving #1 on our list of the best Tigers ever.