As the Tigers are not from Boston or New York, or even Chicago, Los Angeles or San Francisco, some of our great players have not received the attention that they are due. Lou Whitaker's criminally low Hall of Fame vote is an example of how neglected Detroit players have been. But this is a blog for Tigers' fans, and I seriously doubt that anyone who reads this will underrate Lou Whitaker and his 75.1 career rWAR (more than Ryan Sandberg or Roberto Alomar). So here I am talking about other Tiger players who were great, but have been forgotten.
1. Sam Crawford. Crawford, who came to the Tigers in 1903 is in the Hall of Fame, but is overshadowed by his younger teammate Ty Cobb. In fact, Crawford and Cobb provided a powerful 3-4 punch in the middle of the Tiger lineup from 1906-1917. Crawford was a power hitter in the deadball era, setting the all-time record for most triples, and finishing in the top 10 in Slugging Percentage 14 times (but never first).
2. Donie Bush. Detroit's starting shortstop from 1909-1921, Bush was worth 39.3 WAR from his career, doing all the things that are not fully valued by casual baseball fans. He was a good enough defensive player to finish 3rd in the MVP voting in 1914 despite a .252 batting average and a .295 slugging percentage. He walked so often that year that he actually was a league average hitter (by OPS+). He lead the league in walks 5 times, and was in the top 10 in total times on base 8 times. He would sacrifice bunt up to 50 times a season. He made a lot of errors (for example, 75 errors in 1911), but also made an enormous numbers of plays, leading the league in putouts 3 times and assists 5 times (and finishing in the Top 10 pretty much every year). The game was different then, and shortstops made a lot more plays (his range factor of 5.44 per game is 1.5 plays per game higher than Jose Iglesias' 3.95).
3. Frank Lary. First, he had one of the all-time great nicknames, the Yankee Killer. At a time where the Yankees dominated the American league, Lary had a career record of 28-13 against them, with an ERA of 3.32. He pitched 56 games against them, more than against any other opponent. He was under .500 against all other teams. But he was a great pitcher for a short period of time. From 1955-1961, Lary lead the league in Innings Pitched 3 times, complete games 3 times and was worth 27.7 pitching WAR.
4. Dizzy Trout. Aside from the hysterical name, which gives the impression of a fish swimming in circles, Dizzy was a great, great player. Although his stats were slightly exaggerated by playing in wartime (and before the integration of the Big Leagues), Trout was worth 9.8 WAR in 1944, finishing second in the MVP race to teammate Hal Newhouser. Even post-war, Trout managed a 7.5 WAR season in 1946. Trout could hit too. In '44, he was worth 1.5 WAR as a hitter. His total 11.3 WAR in that season is actually the most WAR by a player named Trout.
5. Tommy Bridges. Tiger starter from 1930-1946, Bridges was worth 52 WAR, and was remarkably consistent, as he was worth more than 2 WAR every year from 1930-1943 (when he went into the service for a year at age 37). The first two batters Bridges faced in his career were Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and he got them both. A small man, Bridges was described as 150 pounds of guts. He had a great fastball, too.