Ex-Tiger Tony Clark hit a home run on Thursday night, his eighteenth of the season. Why bring this up? Because Clark slogged through seven losing seasons in Detroit and shouldn't be completely forgotten, and because the season he's having is remarkable.
Tony Clark, 2005:
82 G, 207 AB, 16 2B, 1 3B, 17 HR, 54 RBI, .329 BA, .373 OBP, .662 SLG, 1.035 OPS
Clark, you may remember, showed stellar power and good patience between 1997-1999, hitting thirty homers every year. His career best OPS is .880, but he was remarkably consistent for a run of five straight seasons, never falling below .855. Injuries sapped his production, and by the time he was set to get really expensive in 2002, the Tigers waived him. High-profile platoon gigs followed with the Red Sox, Mets, and Yankees, but he was bad in every stop. He was atrocious in last year's ALCS for the Yankees, and carries some substantial part of the blame for the Red Sox's dramatic comeback. Expectations were suitably low coming into this season in Arizona. Clark was merely a one-time dim star, indistinguishable for those who didn't follow the '97 Tigers from someone like Ron Coomer or Scott Spiezio or Paul Sorrento.
And then 2005. Look at that line again: .329/.373/.662. Baseball Prospectus pegged him for .220/.295/.410, with a 90th percentile projection of .278/.365/.517 -- though it did give him a good chance of a significant improvement over last year. I haven't seen much press about his turnaround, but it has to be one of the surprises of the 2005 season. It appears by his numbers that he's been able to be less patient without increasing his strikeouts, and has found a ballpark (aka bandbox) suitable to his big stroke. In any case, I'm happy to see someone who we once thought would be a Tiger franchise cornerstone find a little success.