When a pitcher comes to be known by a name like "Hooks," chances are he had a pretty good curveball. This was especially the case with George "Hooks" Dauss, who pitched for the Tigers for 15 seasons and has the most wins in franchise history. After a long wait in the poll, he lands at the #33 spot on our countdown.
George August Daus was born on September 22nd, 1889 in Indianapolis, Indiana. He signed a contract with a semi-pro team from South Bend in 1909, but was released before he pitched a single game. He then signed with the Duluth White Sox and went 19-10 in 37 games. After another couple years of pitching in Minnesota, Dauss' rights were bought by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He went 12-19 for the St. Paul Saints that year, causing Pittsburgh to sour on his potential. The Tigers saw otherwise, and bought Dauss' rights.
Dauss made his big league debut later that year, winning his first start despite allowing eight walks and three hit batters. Despite his wildness, he was a regular member of the rotation in 1913. He finished the year with a 13-12 record and 2.48 ERA, tossing 22 complete games in 29 starts. This was the first of 11 consecutive seasons that Dauss pitched at least 200 innings. He had three separate 20-win seasons with two near misses in 1914 and 1916.
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Hooks steadily improved during his first few years in the rotation, winning more games and compiling more WAR in each season from 1913 to 1915. He only struck out 389 batters in 836 2/3 innings during that three year stretch, but won 56 games while allowing just a 2.62 ERA. If pitching 71 complete games in 99 starts weren't enough, Dauss also made 25 relief appearances, compiling six of his 39 career saves.
Dauss was the workhorse of the Tigers' staff throughout the decade, but never led the league in wins, ERA, or strikeouts. While not a superstar, his highest ERA during any of his first nine seasons was 3.56, in 1920. He struggled a bit after that, likely due to Ty Cobb taking over as manager. Cobb's ability to handle the pitching staff was often questioned during his managerial career, but Dauss rebounded from a couple off years to put together a 5.0 WAR season in 1923. He went 21-13 in a career high 316 innings with a 3.62 ERA.
Although he played for 10 winning teams in his 15 seasons, Dauss never made a postseason appearance. The Tigers won 100 games in 1915 -- his second-best season in terms of WAR -- but finished 2 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox. Dauss finished his career with 233 wins, the most in franchise history. He ranks in the top 10 in several other categories, including innings pitched, WAR, and saves.
Dauss was known as a soft-spoken man both on and off the field. During the 1915 season, Dauss was married in St. Louis, then won his scheduled start against the Browns later that afternoon. He was also known as one of the worst hitting pitchers in the game, and for good reason. He finished his career with a .189 batting average and six home runs in 1318 plate appearances. Sam Rice, a Hall of Fame outfielder, gave up pitching after allowing a walk-off triple to "probably the worst hitting pitcher in baseball" in 1916.
Dauss lived quietly after baseball, retiring to a farm near St. Louis with his wife. Mr. Dauss passed away on July 27th, 1963.