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17 Detroit Tigers
Craig Neff
April 06, 1987
"Platoon," barks Tiger manager Sparky Anderson. No, that wasn't his Oscar vote; it's his solution to Detroit's uncertainty at DH and catcher. Sparky has patched his team's holes with fresh grunts like ex-Brave Terry Harper (career average .254) and Mike Heath, he of the Charlie Sheen bristle cut and recent hellish combat experience behind the plate in St. Louis. Harper will share DH time with John Grubb, while Heath will team with Dwight Lowry to replace the departed Lance Parrish. "Well, we won't finish last," says Anderson, sounding uncharacteristically forlorn.
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April 06, 1987

17 Detroit Tigers

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PLAYER
KEY STATS

P

H

COMMENTS

L. WHITAKER
.269, 20 HRs, 73 RBIs

2B

L

Grounded into 20 double plays in '86, only three GIDPs the year before.

A. TRAMMELL
.277, 21 HRs, 75 RBIs

SS

R

62 HRs over past four seasons, compared with 26 in four previous years.

K. GIBSON
.268, 28 HRs, 86 RBIs

RF

L

He and Strawberry are only players with 25+ steals and 25+ HRs in each of last three years.

J. GRUBB
.333, 13 HRs, 51 RBIs

DH

L

Career batting average of .396 (38 for 96, 7 HRs) at Fenway Park.

D. EVANS
.241, 29 HRs, 85 RBIs

1B

L

Led AL with 69 homers over past two years; Schmidt, with 70, led NL.

D. COLES
.273, 20 HRs, 86 RBIs

3B

R

Had eight hits, six for extra bases, with the bases loaded last season.

P. SHERIDAN
.237, 6 HRs, 19 RBIs

LF

L

Has hit 23 of his 24 career homers against righthanded pitchers.

C. LEMON
.251, 12 HRs, 53 RBIs

CF

R

Over last three years has batted .334 vs. lefties, .233 vs. righties.

M. HEATH
.226 in both leagues

C

R

BA on grass has been higher than on artificial turf in eight of his nine seasons.

J. MORRIS
21-8, 3.27 ERA

SP

R

Averaged 7.63 innings per start, 4th highest in major leagues.

W. TERRELL
15-12, 4.56 ERA

SP

R

Allowed one HR per 27.1 at bats in '86, compared with one per 96.1 at bats in '85.

D. PETRY
5-10, 4.66 ERA

SP

R

Loves to face Mike Pagliarulo (0 for 15); hates to face George Brett (14 for 32, 5 HRs).

F. TANANA
12-9, 4.16 ERA

SP

L

Allowed 31 first-inning runs (2nd most in majors) in 31 starts.

E. KING
11-4, 3.51 ERA

RP

R

8-4, 4.31 ERA in 16 starts; 3-0, 1.25 ERA in 17 relief appearances.

W. HERNANDEZ
24 SVs, 3.55 ERA

RP

L

Allowed three extra-inning home runs last season, tied for most in the majors.

"Platoon," barks Tiger manager Sparky Anderson. No, that wasn't his Oscar vote; it's his solution to Detroit's uncertainty at DH and catcher. Sparky has patched his team's holes with fresh grunts like ex-Brave Terry Harper (career average .254) and Mike Heath, he of the Charlie Sheen bristle cut and recent hellish combat experience behind the plate in St. Louis. Harper will share DH time with John Grubb, while Heath will team with Dwight Lowry to replace the departed Lance Parrish. "Well, we won't finish last," says Anderson, sounding uncharacteristically forlorn.

Watch out—this could be a trap. Sparky, ever the canny strategist, let the so-called experts pick his Tigers apart in spring training, then turned to his team and delivered the old boys-the-world-thinks-we-stink-and-what-are-we-going-to-do-about-it? number. "It opened our eyes and got us right down to business," says Detroit pitcher Dan Petry.

Though flawed, the Tigers could open a few eyes. They still have a strong pitching staff. Jack Morris returns, albeit reluctantly, and Petry, who averaged more than 17 wins a season from 1983 through '85, has apparently recovered from last summer's elbow surgery.

Some fear that Detroit cannot survive the loss of Parrish. "He was the rock, the big wheel, the pillar that held up the whole structure," mourns Petry. But Anderson, who has never before entered a season without either Parrish or Johnny Bench, says, "No one player can be that important to you. If he is, you must not have much of a team."

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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