David Ortiz is retiring, and that's just fine with me. There was that little matter of The Incident Which Shall Not Be Mentioned back in the 2013 ALCS, but it goes beyond that. David Ortiz has been a bona fide Tiger Killer throughout his career, and I know it's nothing personal because, let's face it, David Ortiz has been a Killer of All Pitchers throughout his career, but you know what? It is personal. Enjoy your victory lap in 2016, Big Papi, you big old jerk-faced dinky jerk stinker poopy-head.
(Why couldn't Benoit have started him out with a fastball?!)
Realizing Ortiz's official status as Tiger Killer got me to thinking: who else has been an obnoxious pain in the butt against the Tigers over the years? Not just hitters, but pitchers -- starters and relievers? I'm sure you've got a few names tripping all over themselves to stand front-and-center in your memory. Billy Butler has to be one, right? And obviously Bruce Chen has to make that list too, right? Let's ask Twitter.
Bruce Chen signs with royals.. Lowkey excellent move. Great last year and also a tiger killer.— Caleb Woody (@c2eazy) January 30, 2014
KC re-signs Tiger Killer Bruce Chen. Savvy mlb prognosticators lower Tigers expected win total from 91 to 88.— Brandon Robetoy (@989baseball) January 30, 2014
More than a little nervous with a soft-tossing lefty going against the Tigers. It's not Tiger-killer Bruce Chen, right?— Mike Crossman (@TheMikeCrossman) July 28, 2013
Tigers could pull into a tie tonight but they are facing a Tiger killer in lefty Bruce Chen.— Matt Scott (@MScott2142) September 25, 2012
Yeah, Bruce Chen is a lock for that list. Unless you look at his career stats and realize that against the Tigers he has a 5.42 ERA, 1.422 WHIP, and they have a .813 OPS against him. Never change, Tigers Twitter.
So then, who are the real Tiger Killers? Here they are, by the numbers, ranked over the past ten years (active players only!) and presented in three categories:
Oh, Big Papi. So sad to see you go, but here's your hat and we'll see you later, ok?
There are some names on this list that shouldn't be surprises: A-Rod, Billy Butler, Nelson Cruz, Adrian Beltre. But be honest, did you expect to find Melky Cabrera here? Or Shin-Soo Choo?
Also, damn you, Michael Brantley, I knew you'd show up here!
Now let's take a look at...
Ok, once again, you'd expect to see names like Chris Sale, Felix Hernandez, Corey Kluber, and even Scott Kazmir on the list. Those guys are genuinely good pitchers who tend to terrorize opposing batters no matter what team they're on.
But Danny Duffy? He of the career 3.80 ERA and 4.22 WHIP? And Ervin Santana has a career 4.16 ERA with a 4.26 FIP to go with it, yet the Tigers have not historically been able to muster more than two-to-three runs per game against him.
Alright then, what about the closers who always seem to shut the Tigers down?
Alright, first of all, Fernando Rodney, Joe Nathan, and Joakim Soria, all former Tigers who struggled to varying degrees when they were closing for Detroit? The curse is real, man, the curse is so very real.
And speaking of things unfair, oh look, it's Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland. The lesson is reinforced: score early against the Royals, or just pack up and go home.
Finally, there's Huston Street. Yeah, fine, he's on the list and he's had great success against the Tigers, but I ain't even mad. You know why? Of course you do.
That's a happy note to end on. These guys may all be Tiger Killers, but in the end it comes down to being able to beat them at precisely the right time, and Magglio Ordonez will forever be the Patron Saint of Doing It When It Mattered.