Top Tigers Countdown #43: Goose Goslin

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The hero of the 1935 World Series, Goslin only spent four of his 18 seasons in Detroit, but helped deliver the franchise's first championship.

"World Series, Game 7, bottom of the ninth, two outs."

Every Little Leaguer dreams of coming to the plate in this situation. Few get the opportunity to even play in the big leagues, and when Goose Goslin stepped into the batters box on October 7th, 1935 against the Chicago Cubs, no player had ever won the World Series with a two-out base hit. Sure, it was only Game 6, but Goslin made history with a single to right, scoring Mickey Cochrane to give the Tigers their first championship. Goose only spent four of his 18 seasons in Detroit, but they were still special enough to land him the #43 spot on our countdown.

Year PA HR RBI SB BA OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ WAR
1921* 58 1 6 0 .260 .351 .380 .344 92 0.2
1922* 394 3 53 4 .324 .373 .441 .376 115 1.4
1923* 656 9 99 7 .300 .347 .453 .367 110 2.3
1924* 673 12 129 15 .344 .421 .516 .431 143 6.4
1925* 670 18 113 27 .334 .394 .547 .421 136 6.5
1926* 656 17 108 8 .354 .425 .542 .443 151 6.7
1927* 659 13 120 21 .334 .392 .516 .414 133 5.1
1928* 527 17 102 16 .379 .442 .614 .473 174 7.3
1929* 639 18 91 10 .288 .366 .461 .375 112 2.7
1930** 668 37 138 17 .308 .382 .601 .421 138 5.1
1931** 675 24 105 9 .328 .412 .555 .435 144 5.4
1932** 667 17 104 12 .299 .398 .469 .394 118 3.1
1933* 599 10 64 5 .297 .348 .452 .367 111 3.3
1934 686 13 100 5 .305 .373 .453 .378 112 2.7
1935 651 9 109 5 .292 .355 .415 .355 98 1.9
1936 660 24 125 14 .315 .403 .526 .420 125 3.9
1937 219 4 35 0 .238 .367 .376 .353 91 0.3
1938* 65 2 8 0 .158 .262 .316 .273 51 -0.3
Career 9822 248 1609 175 .316 .387 .500 .402 127 64.0

*Played for the Washington Senators from 1921 to June 1930, in 1933, and in 1938.
**Played for the St. Louis Browns from June 1930 to 1932.

Leon Allen Goslin was born on October 16th, 1900 in Salem, New Jersey. He grew up a pitcher, and was "discovered" when he won a big game for the nearby DuPont factory team. Bill McGowan, later a Hall of Fame umpire, put in a good word for Goslin to the Columbia Comers of the Sally League. The 19 year old Goslin was quickly moved from the mound to the outfield, and he hit .317 in 90 plate appearances in 1920. He continued to mash in 1921, hitting .390 in 142 games. This led Washington Senators owner Clark Griffith to sign Goslin, and call him up late in the 1921 season.

Now nicknamed "Goose" for his birdlike approach to tracking down fly balls in the outfield (this wasn't a compliment), Goslin made his debut on September 16th, 1921. He hit .260/.351/.380 with a home run and a triple, both off of Hall of Fame pitcher Red Faber of the Chicago White Sox. Goslin improved his numbers in 1922, hitting .324/.373/.441 in 101 games. While manager Clyde Milan was unhappy with Goslin's poor defense, he had to keep him in the lineup: Goslin was the only Senator to hit .300 that season in 40+ plate appearances.

Goslin, infamous for a laid-back attitude, also incurred the wrath of his new manager in 1923: former Tiger great Donie Bush. However, his bat did the talking once again, as Goslin hit .300/.347/.453 with 18 triples and 99 RBI in 656 plate appearances. The Senators finished in fourth plate with a 75-78 record, but Goslin had help this time around. First baseman Joe Judge and future Hall of Fame outfielder Sam Rice both hit better than Goslin in 1923, setting the stage for a pennant run in 1924.

A budding star, Goslin broke out in 1924 as the Senators overcame a slow start to finish 92-62 and win the American League. Goose hit a then-career-best .344/.421/.516 with 17 triples, 12 home runs, and 129 RBI, all of which led the team. As a team, the Senators only hit 22 home runs that year, no doubt due to their pitcher-friendly stadium -- Goslin had the only Senators home run at Griffith Stadium that season. Teammate Walter Johnson won the MVP award thanks to a 23-7 record and 2.72 ERA. The Senators won the World Series in seven games over the New York Giants in large part thanks to Goslin's three home runs and seven RBI during the series.

Goslin's Senators laid waste to the rest of the American League in 1925, winning their second consecutive pennant by a comfortable 8 1/2 game margin. Despite another three homer performance from Goslin in the World Series, the Senators blew a 3-1 series lead and lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates in seven games. Despite the loss (and the Senators' subsequent fall from contention) Goslin's star continued to rise. He put up a career best .443 wOBA and 151 wRC+ in 1926, then topped both in 1928 as he won his only career batting title.

After a disappointing 1929 season, Goslin and Senators owner Clark Griffith were once again at odds about Goslin's contract before the 1930 campaign. Between Goslin's career low .827 OPS the year before, his annual poor defensive efforts, and the recent crash of the stock market (which ultimately resulted in the Great Depression), Goslin's days in Washington were numbered. He was traded to the St. Louis Browns for Heinie Manush and General Crowder on June 13th, then suited up for the Browns against his former team on June 14th. Goslin went 5-for-14 with a home run in the four game series against the Senators, and hit .326/.400/.652 for the sixth-place Browns down the stretch.

A pair of solid years in St. Louis netted Goslin consecutive top 20 MVP finishes in 1931 and 1932. The move to St. Louis was kind to his power numbers in particular. He hit 71 home runs for the Browns in less than three seasons after hitting 115 bombs for the Senators over the previous decade. Goslin was reportedly never a fan of playing in St. Louis, and was relieved when traded back to the Senators after the 1932 season. Despite a happy reunion with the Senators' owner -- Goslin frequently referred to Griffith as "Pops," referencing a father-son-esque relationship -- Goslin was unhappy with new manager Joe Cronin. An unhappy Goose might have been able to leverage the firing of Cronin a half decade earlier, but the 32 year old Goslin that hit .297/.348/.452 in 1933 had no such sway: he was traded to Detroit just before Christmas.

While Goslin's overall OPS wasn't particularly special in a Tigers uniform -- he hit for an .832 OPS in four years -- he still hit .305 with a .373 on-base percentage in 686 plate appearances for the Tigers in 1934. This earned him a 14th place finish in the MVP voting, his sixth top-20 finish of his career. He was one of four Tigers to drive in 100 runs that season as the team won 101 games, the third-best total in franchise history. Goslin, Hank Greenberg, and Charlie Gehringer were called the "G-Men" by sportswriters, proving that not all old-time nicknames were as original as we think.

Though the Tigers lost the 1934 World Series and won eight fewer games in 1935, they were able to win the American League pennant and get back to the Fall Classic. This time, the Tigers faced the Chicago Cubs. The Tigers jumped out to a 3-1 series lead before the Cubs won Game 5, forcing the series back to Navin Field for a sixth game. With the Cubs leading 3-2 in the sixth inning, first baseman Marv Owen hit an RBI single to tie the game. A pair of scoreless innings for both teams set the stage for a heart-stopping ninth inning.

The Cubs threatened in the top of the ninth inning when Stan Hack hit a leadoff triple. Tigers right-hander Tommy Bridges kept them off the scoreboard, stranding Hack with three consecutive outs. Leadoff hitter Flea Clifton struck out to begin the bottom of the ninth before a Mickey Cochrane single and Charlie Gehringer groundout put a runner in scoring position for Goslin with two outs. The Goose didn't wait long to end the game, lining the 0-1 pitch into right field to score Cochrane and win the series.

Goslin made his only All-Star appearance in 1936, hitting .315/.403/.526 with 24 home runs and 125 RBI for the Tigers. His .420 wOBA and 115 wRC+ were not as good as the numbers he put up during his prime, but it was easily his best offensive season as a Tiger. He also stole 14 bases, his highest total since 1930. Unfortunately, that season would be Goslin's swan song. He only played in 79 games in 1937, hitting just .238. After being released by the Tigers, the 37 year old Goslin spent the 1938 season in Washington, where he hit an anemic .158 in 38 games.

Goslin retired after the 1938 season, and largely stayed away from the game after a managing stint in the minors in 1939. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Veteran's Committee in 1968, and passed away three years later.

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