It has been hard to recap this last Detroit Tigers season. Usually by now, we have bombarded you, the reader, with umpteen posts about the team MVP or season grades or the play of the year (shoutout to 2012 winner Andy Dirks).
But when your favorite team goes 64-98, it’s a little harder to go back and re-live that.
Still, we’re going to try. To start, we’ll take a look at the positive moments of the Tigers’ season, even if they were few and far between. We probably have plenty more ugly baseball ahead in the next couple years, so we have to appreciate the good times while we can.
This week’s question: What was your favorite highlight of the Tigers’ 2017 season?
Ashley: Andrew Romine playing every position. Yes it was silly, but it was also something that couldn't have happened in a tight Wild Card race or with a division title on the line in the final games of the season (like last year in Atlanta). It's the kind of thing that would only happen in a losing year, and it was delightful. I liked a deserved nod to a great utility player like Romine, who might never be a superstar but has been devoted to the team since his arrival. It reminded me that no matter how bad things get over the next few years, there will still be fun, positive things happening for the team.
Patrick O.: As the Tigers' 2017 season was circling the drain, and the great sucking sound was getting louder and louder as one pitcher after another was getting shelled, Matthew Boyd arose from the pile of rubble and pitched a near no-hitter in a 12-0 Tigers rout of the Chicago White Sox. With two outs in the ninth inning, Boyd's no-hit bid was spoiled. For a fleeting moment, Tigers fans could begin to dream of at least one of the team's young pitchers stepping up to pitch like a major leaguer. Alas, the joy was to be spoiled not just by Tim Anderson's two-base hit, but with a controversy created by manager Brad Ausmus leaving Nicholas Castellanos in right field for the ninth inning. And then, the quest for the top draft choice resumed.
Rob: Believe it or not, we actually thought this Tigers team could contend for a playoff spot at one point. They had a lot of us fooled after winning a home series against the Cleveland Indians at the start of May. That moved them to 4-2 against Cleveland on the year, and within one game of the division lead. It also involved a win over Corey Kluber, and sharp-ish outings from both Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd. There were warning signs, of course, but with J.D. Martinez set to return soon, that felt like the high water mark of the season.
frisbeepilot: The Tigers turned a triple play, and I was there! It went around the horn, it was started by promising youngster Jeimer Candelario, and it was hit-into by the always-speedy Kevin Pillar. This season was a pretty painful one, as has been mentioned by others on here, but this five-ish seconds of pure baseball joy caught me (and a bunch of others) by surprise. What a delight.
Peter: The brawl with the New York Yankees. That was a perfect culmination of a year of frustrations for the Tigers and their fans. Having already thrown in the towel and sold off key pieces, The Tigers were once again getting throttled in a series by the evil empire. And then after a pitch inside from Michael Fulmer, everything came to a head. Miguel Cabrera, frustrated with himself and the way the season had gone, decided enough was enough, and he wasn’t going to take any more whining from the playoff-bound Yankees. First an argument, then a shove, and then fists of fury. It was a moment that got every Tigers fan off their couch and into a hot and heavy battle. It provided much needed group therapy for a season of pent-up frustration. And the Tigers won the game too. It wasn't pretty, but that was a good night.
Ron: My highlight of the 2017 season was watching Shane Greene evolve into a reliable back-end reliever. Last season we saw him make the permanent switch to the bullpen and he had a decent second half adjusting to the change from starter to reliever. This year he started out as the seventh inning guy and was utterly dominant. After Francisco Rodriguez was released and Justin Wilson became closer, Greene became the most important back-end reliever and he continued to pitch well throughout the season. At the trade deadline, Wilson was traded and the logical replacement for closer at that point was Greene. He hit the ground running, recording three saves in his first three days as closer. He pitched even better after being named closer than he did prior to it. In fact, Greene’s 2.49 ERA since taking over as closer was better than his 2.74 ERA before becoming closer. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how much better Greene is next year.
Jay: I was excited to see Justin Verlander get traded to the Astros. Don't get me wrong, I love him. He's a dynamic force on the field and a great guy off it. He was an absolute pleasure to have on the team for so long. However, the Tigers were a sinking ship, and his talent was wasted on a team that was clearly not going to compete. The trade was mutually beneficial. Verlander has a real shot at getting a ring, and the Tigers finally hit the gas pedal on their long-awaited rebuild. Al Avila has been losing my faith slowly but surely for a while, and this trade was a real boost for confidence in his ability as a general manager. He saw what needed to be done, he did it, and he did it well, extracting a mighty haul form the Astros for the beloved ace.
Kurt: My highlight is that they finally sold. Since about 2014 we've seen the need for a rebuild coming. Losing isn't fun, but without a rebuild they were going to lose anyway. Just gradually worse and worse with a half decade lost. There's no fun in that either. The season itself may not have been the best and 2018 undoubtedly won't offer much better, but at least we have some young players to be excited for and the knowledge if Chris Ilitch is willing to open the wallet a little bit in a few years the Tigers will be fun again and back into contention. That's way better than the direction they were headed only six months ago.
Brandon: Meh, I got nothin’.
Grace: My highlight was covering the team for my first full season. Ashley, Peter, Ron, John, and I joined the Bless You Boys staff just after the end of the regular season last year, so this was the first time I've gotten to help cover a team for an entire season. Writing about the Tigers helps me see things more objectively than I did before I joined the staff, and I can more clearly see the big picture. The trade deadline was particularly fun -- even though I didn't enjoy the trades themselves -- because it was an exciting event and Detroit obviously made some big moves. Additionally, when a story gets a lot of readers, it makes me proud to know the teamwork that went into publishing it. Generally, there's a group discussion about how to tackle the topic, followed by the writing, and then at least one person edits before the post goes public. You can have 10 or more people contribute to a post with only one byline! Seeing the behind-the-scenes of blogging was a great learning experience for me as well. I'm looking forward to covering the Tigers throughout the offseason, spring training, and into next season!