plus maybe a few extras.
5. The Rise and Fall of Brennan Boesch
When Brennan Boesch was called up to the Tigers in late April, a lot of people were left asking, "Who?" (Not regular readers of Bless You Boys, of course. They already knew he was a favorite to be a surprise performer with the squad in 2010.) A mammoth grand slam in just his sixth game woke up the fans that thought he was just another Toledo callup. By July 1, many thought the lefthanded slugger would be the season's rookie of the year. He had 70 hits, 12 home runs, 30 extra-base hits total, and 45 RBI. But all good things must end. Boesch's season crashed back to earth by the end of that month. He finished off the season by hitting beneath the Mendoza line, which was a serious problem for a guy batting behind Miguel Cabrera.
4. Rookie Debuts
Along those lines, the sheer number of rookie debuts -- 10 -- and the particular storylines behind them are worthy of mention. The Tigers' youth movement in 2010 wasn't completely intentional. Injuries caused some of them. But the sheer number of them meant we seemed to be watching somebody's dream come true every week and learning a new story.
The one with the biggest impact on the Tigers is obviously Austin Jackson. An incredible outfielder, a good baserunner and a pretty decent hitter, Jackson alone made the Granderson trade worthwhile. Will Rhymes debut was an interesting one, too. Detroit Free Press beat writer John Lowe's research found Rhymes was the first Tigers' rookie in more than 70 years to hit above .300 (with at least 200 plate appearances).
Our favorite debut had to belong to catcher Max St. Pierre, who chased his dream for 14 years before finally getting into the MLB statistics book in September with his debut against the Twins.
A number of other debuts will be storylines to follow in 2011: Will Rhymes start at second base in Carlos Guillen's absence, or Scott Sizemore? Will Robbie Weinhardt and Andrew Oliver put poor showings on the mound behind them and prove what they can do? How much playing time will Casper Wells earn? It'll be fun to watch all these guys in 2011.
3. Justin Verlander signed through 2014
The Tigers already had their best hitter -- one whose career will rank among the best of the franchise's history -- signed through 2015. They still had to make sure the ace pitcher wasn't going anywhere. A deal less than two weeks before the opening of camp in Lakeland made sure of that. Verlander signed a five-year, $80 million contract that will keep him in Detroit through his peak years on the mound.
2. Miguel Cabrera has a career year
We knew Cabrera was good. We knew in 2008 we were going to have the opportunity to watch one of the finest hitters of his generation put on our team's uniform for a long, long time. Of course, after the way the 2009 season ended we really had no clue how Cabrera would bounce back. He was struggling with personal problems with alcohol when last we saw him after Game 163. But he fought back, took control of his life, and went on to scare the living bejeezus out of opposing pitchers. A .420 on-base percentage and .622 slugging average (propped up by 38 home runs, 45 doubles and a triple?) An MLB-leading 126 RBI? Wow.
1. Armando Galarraga's "perfect" game
This list had all the tension of a Dan Brown book and about as much plot, didn't it? Armando Galarraga's
near perfect game and the impact on the sports world in the days and weeks following was undoubtedly the top story of 2010. Galarraga wowed us each inning he didn't allow a baserunner, scared us with a hard-hit ball in the ninth inning that was run down by Jackson, and taught us a thing or two about sportsmanship when an unbelievably bad call didn't go his way. His name may not make the history books for throwing a perfect game, but his position in Tigers--and likely sports--lore is cemented due to his actions after the game.
*Honorable (in every way) mention: The passing of some Tigers greats
It's definitely not our "favorite" storyline of 2010, seeing Ernie Harwell and Sparky Anderson pass away. (The two were recently joined by gentleman Bill Lajoie, architect of the 1984 Tigers). Actually, it's probably our least favorite story of the year. But the list would be incomplete if we didn't stop to once again honor the two men and all they meant to the franchise and its fans.
Honorable mention storylines: The adoption of social media tools by Tigers organization members Scot Drucker, Robbie Weinhardt, Casper Wells and Will Rhymes ... Max Scherzer's 14 strikeout performance against Oakland and complete domination the rest of the season ... Phil Coke. Period. He's an interesting dude. ... The re-signing of fan favorites Magglio Ordonez and Brandon Inge ... The trade for shortstop Jhonny Peralta.
OK, now that we've shared our storylines with you, what do your lists look like?