As part of the SB Nation MLB awards, we are nominating and voting on the Tigers' most important hit from 2014. With one of the best offenses in the league, the two-time reigning MVP and the 2014 MVP runner-up, there are plenty of big hits to choose from. It’ll be tough to narrow it down, but here are our nominees.
Bryan Holaday’s bunt single
Remember this one? It happened way back in April when the Tigers visited the White Sox. The Tigers staked an early 3-0 lead, but the bats went quiet and the South Siders came back to tie the game in the sixth. In the top of the ninth, facing Ronald Belisario, Austin Jackson ripped a line drive to Dayan Viciedo that the right fielder misplayed, allowing Jackson to scamper all the way to third base.
With two outs and Jackson still standing on third, Holaday dropped a perfect bunt down the third base line and beat out a wide throw from Belisario. It was just about the last thing you’d expect from a backup catcher, and it caught the White Sox totally off guard. Joe Nathan would come in to close out the 4-3 victory.
Miguel Cabrera hoses the Orioles
A sentimental favorite -- Rob was in the stands for this one -- Miguel Cabrera delivered a crowd-silencing blow when he hit a three-run homer off closer Tommy Hunter. Victor Martinez followed up the shot with a solo shot onto Eutaw St. and the Tigers completed a comeback, winning 4-1.
This is just the end of the story, though. The Tigers were fortunate to get to Cabrera in the first place. Alex Avila singled to lead off the inning, then was replaced by pinch runner Rajai Davis. During the next at-bat, Davis was called out while attempting to steal second base. The umpire crew reviewed the call, and overturned a very close play. After a pair of outs, Torii Hunter drew a walk in a seven pitch at-bat, bringing Cabrera to the plate for the final blow.
Rajai Davis' backyard grand slam
It spawned a blog post about what to call it, because "walk off home run" just isn't enough. Down 4-1 with the bases loaded, Rajai Davis took a 1-0 Sean Doolittle breaking ball deep to left field for a walk-off grand slam. In terms of pure reversal of fortune -- it was worth a whopping +.791 WPA -- it might be the biggest hit in baseball this season.
Oh, and did we mention that it happened the night that the Tigers honored the 1984 champions? Nope, Sean Doolittle didn't wanna walk him.
Victor Martinez's never-ending home run
If you zoned out a little bit during this at-bat, we won't blame you. Victor battled Mariners starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma for 12 (!) pitches, eventually hitting a three-run homer that gave the Tigers a 5-2 lead. He fouled off five consecutive pitches in the at-bat. The Tigers would go on to win 6-3.
The best part? This wasn't a late season matchup. It was May 30th. This wasn't a ninth inning showdown. It was the top of the fifth. This wasn't a tight pennant race battle. The Tigers were up 5 1/2 games in the Central at the time. This at-bat above all shows the kind of laser-sharp focus Martinez had in 2014, resulting in the best offensive season of his career.
Ian Kinsler: binocular-gate
Ian Kinsler with perhaps the best troll job of all-time right here. pic.twitter.com/KxXFPAbgd7— Isaac (@WorldofIsaac) September 24, 2014
It was funny, sure, but it was also a big moment. The Tigers were locked in a pennant race with the Kansas City Royals at the time, and Kinsler's double gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead. They would eventually go on to win 6-1, taking a two game lead into the final series of the season.
Tyler Collins' pinch-hit single
The Tigers didn't get many offensive contributions from their farm system in 2014, but Collins delivered one of the biggest hits of the season in a September showdown with the Royals. Up two games in the AL Central after a 10-1 beatdown of the Royals the night before, Max Scherzer and James Shields were locked in a pitcher's duel in the seventh inning. After a single and a walk, Brad Ausmus pinch hit Collins for catcher Bryan Holaday. Collins rewarded his manager's faith with an RBI single, driving in J.D. Martinez to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead.
The single becomes even bigger when you consider the events of the inning prior. With runners on second and third, Omar Infante lined out to second baseman Ian Kinsler. Kinsler threw the ball away when attempting to pick Eric Hosmer off second base, but the Tigers were fortunate that Salvador Perez did not tag up at third base. After appealing the call, the Tigers were granted a video review that confirmed Perez's gaffe. Instead of a 2-1 Royals lead, the inning was over, bringing the Tigers (and Collins) to the plate in the seventh.
What was the biggest hit of 2014?