Dick McAuliffe, the long time Detroit Tigers' infielder who played 13 of his 15 major league seasons with Detroit, has passed away at the age of 76. He is best known for his role as the starting second baseman on the World Series Championship team in 1968, but his career spanned a decade and a half, where he displayed a combination of productive offense and steady defense at both second base and shortstop.
McAuliffe joined the Tigers in September 1960 as a utility infielder. He gained a starting role as the team's shortstop from 1963 until 1967, when he was moved to second base. His best season offensively came in 1966, when he posted a batting line of .274/.373/.509 with 23 home runs, 56 RBI, and 83 runs scored. His career on base percentage was .343 with a weighted on base average (wOBA) of .337. He usually batted near the top of the order, starting 725 games in the lead off spot, and drew walks with great frequency. He holds a career WAR of 35.3
In 1968, McAuliffe batted just .249, but held a .343 on base percentage with 16 home runs, 8 stolen bases, and a WAR of 5.2 for the season.He led the league in runs scored and finished seventh in the American league's MVP voting that season.
McAuliffe ranked fourth among all major league shortstops in WAR during the decade of the 1960's, and he led all shortstops in wOBA while ranking second in home runs during that time. He was selected as an All Star as a shortstop in 1965 and 1966, starting for the American league in 1965.
McAuliffe was involved in a famous brawl in 1968, when Chicago White Sox pitcher, Tommy John threw at him twice, and McAuliffe charged the mound, separating John's shoulder. He was suspended five games, while John was out for the season. As his career began to decline, McAuliffe expressed a desire to finish his career with his boyhood team, the Boston Red Sox, and he was dealt to Boston for Ben Oglivie.
Those who remember him will recall his patented move, going to his right either on second base or behind the bag, spinning in mid air to fire a strike to Norm Cash, standing at first base. Even more unique was his batting stance, described in this article when BYB commenters rated McAuliffe as the 27th greatest Tiger in history.
Dick McAuliffe's Career Statistics
*Played for the Boston Red Sox from 1974 to 1975.