Welcome back to another post, today is another installment in the History of the Tiger series, where we look back on the Detroit Tigers history. This post will be focused on the years 1971-1980. To stay updated on future posts, make sure to like my facebook page here and follow my Twitter here. You can join my Discord here. And you can view the rest of the posts for this series here. Thanks!
1971-1973: New Managers and Winning Success
In 1971, the Tigers finished second in the three-year-old Eastern Division. They hired new manager Billy Martin, and finished 20 games over .500 but still 10 games back of first place. Norm Cash hit .283 with 32 homers and 91 RBI, while Mickey Lolich won 25 games and had a 2.92 ERA but did not win the Cy Young.
The next year, the Tigers won the Eastern Division but lost 3 games to 2 in a best of 5 AL Championship Series against the Oakland A’s. Al Kaline hit 10 homers and drove in 32 runs with a .313 average, and Mickey Lolich finished with a 22-14 record and a 2.50 ERA.
In 1973, the Tigers went 85-77, but they fired Billy Martin as manager on August 30 and Joe Schultz became their manager. Willie Horton hit .316 with 17 homers and 53 RBI, and Joe Coleman went 23-15 with a 3.53 ERA.
1974-1977: Losing Seasons Every Year
After the 1973 season, the Tigers hired Ralph Houk as their new manager. He didn’t seem to have much success, because the Tigers finished last in the AL East, 19 games behind the Baltimore Orioles. Bill Freehan hit .297 with 18 home runs and 60 RBI. John Hiller led the pitching staff with 17-14 record and 2.64 ERA. October 2nd, 1974 was the last game that Al Kaline played. He finished his career with 3007 hits and 399 home runs.
In 1975, the Tigers kept Ralph Houk as their manager, and then had their 5th worst season in team history, with a record of 57-102. They finished 37.5 games back of first place in the AL East. Willie Horton led the team in hitting with a .275 average, 25 home runs, and 92 RBI. Mickey Lolichw as the Tigers best pitcher with a 12-18 record and 3.78 ERA.
The Tigers once again had Ralph Houk as their manager for the 1976 season, and the Tigers definitely improved, as they had a 74-87 record. Rusty Staub led the team in hitting with a .299 average, 15 home runs, and 96 RBI, while Mark Fydrich was the Tigers best pitcher with a 19-9 record and 2.34 ERA.
In 1977, the Tigers were 74-88, which was pretty much the same as the 1976 season. Rusty Staub once again led the team in hitting with a .278 average, 22 home runs, and 101 RBI. And Dave Rozema led the pitching staff with a 15-7 record and 3.09 ERA.
1978-1980 Finally Winning and Sparky Arrives
In 1978, the Tigers finally had a winning record, finishing 86-76. But they still finished 5th in the AL East because the Yankees, Brewers, Red Sox, and Orioles all won 90 games. Rusty Staub was once again their best hitter with .273 average, 24 home runs, and 121 RBI. And Jack Billingham led the pitching with a 15-8 record and 3.88 ERA.
In 1979, Les Moss became the manager of the Tigers and started 27-26. He was not fired for being a bad manager, but because manager Sparky Anderson became available, and the Tigers wanted to hire him. Dick Tracewski managed 4 games until Anderson’s arrival. The Tigers ended up finishing the season 85-76. Steve Kemp was their top hitter with a .318 average, 26 homers, and 105 RBI, while Jack Morris led the pitching with a 17-7 record and 3.28 ERA.
In the final season of this post, the Tigers finished 84-78, and 4th in the AL East. Steve Kemp led the team in hitting with a .293 average, 21 home runs, and 101 RBI, while Aurelio Lopez led the pitching with a 13-6 record and 3.77 ERA.
I hope you enjoyed this post in the History of the Tigers series and I look forward to making the last couple of posts in this series soon!