Record – 74-61, Finished Third Place in the American League
Pythagorean Record – 72-63
Starters (Note – I couldn’t find a set lineup, so I’m listing the players who got the most time at their respective positions)
C – Fritz Buelow (.225/.269/.316)
1b – Pop Dillon (.288/.324/.391)
2b – Kid Gleason (.274/.327/.391)
3b – Doc Casey (.283/.335/.357)
SS – Kid Elberfeld (.308/.397/.428)
LF – Doc Nance (.280/.355/.373)
CF – Jimmy Barrett (.293/.385/.378)
RF – Ducky Holmes (.294/.347/.406)
Homeruns – Jimmy Barrett, Ducky Holmes (4)
Batting Average – Kid Elberfeld (.308)
OPS – Kid Elberfield (.825)
Best Fielder – Ducky Holmes (22 Fielding Runs Above Average)
Wins – Roscoe Miller (23)
ERA – Joe Yeager (2.61)
Strikeouts – Ed Siever (85)
On April 25, 1901, the Detroit Tigers opened their inaugural season with a win over the eventual last place Milwaukee Brewers. In front of a home crowd at Bennett Park, the Tigers scored 10 runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to walk away with the team’s first win. First baseman Pop Dillon doubled twice in that inning, the second of which drove home the winning run.
The Tigers then went on to win their first five games but they eventually fell behind the Boston Americans and the eventual American League champions, the Chicago White Sox. Back then they didn’t have a World Series (it wouldn’t be until 1903 when the leagues would essentially unify) and they ended up 8 1/2 games back of the Sox.
Kid Elberfeld led an offense that was right in the middle of the league in most offensive categories. Elberfeld finished the season sixth in OBP (.397), ninth in OPS (.825) and seventh in walks (57). He was also a solid fielder (57 Fielding Runs Above Replacement) and in all, he finished the season with the team’s best WARP1 (10.1). While the Tigers finished third in the league in batting average (.279) and OBP (.333), they finished fifth in runs (741) and homeruns (29) despite player in a hitters park (park factor of 105).
Roscoe Miller led the Tigers rotation with 23 wins and he was in the top ten in several statistical categories. His 23 wins were the fourth most in the league and he finished eighth in ERA (2.95) and third in innings pitched (332). Joe Yeager also had a solid season, even if it didn’t equate to as many wins (12). He was third in the league in ERA (2.61) and second in ERA+ (147). The Tigers finished third in the American League in ERA (3.30) but they were only seventh in strikeouts (307) and actually walked more batters (313) then they struck out.
While the Tigers first season didn’t garner them a championship, they had a winning record the entire season. It also gave them a base that would eventually net the team three straight American League pennants later in the decade.