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Detroit Tigers Season Lookback – 1904

Record – 62-90, Finished Seventh Place in the American League
Pythagorean Record – 61-91

Starters

Hitters (BA/OBP/SLG)

C – Lew Drill (.244/.335/.294)
1b – Charlie Carr (.214/.245/.267)
2b – Bobby Lowe (.208/.236/.259)
3b – Ed Gremminger (.214/.257/.285)
SS – Charley O’Leary (.213/.254/.254)
LF – Matty McIntyre (.253/.310/.317)
CF – Jimmy Barrett (.268/.353/.300)
RF – Sam Crawford (.254/.309/.361)

Team Leaders

Homeruns – Sam Crawford, Matty McIntyre (2)
Batting Average – Jimmy Barrett (.268)
OPS – Sam Crawford (.670)
Best Fielder – Bobby Lowe (11 Fielding Runs Above Average)

Pitchers (IP/W/ERA)

SP – George Mullin (382.3/17/2.40)
SP – Bill Donovan (293/17/2.46)
SP – Ed Killian (331.7/14/2.44)
SP – Frank Kitson (199.7/8/3.07)
SP – Jesse Stovall (146.7/3/4.42)

Team Leaders

Wins – George Mullin, Bill Donovan (17)
ERA – George Mullin (2.40)
Strikeouts – George Mullin (161)

If 1903 was a step forward for the Detroit Tigers, 1904 was a step back. The team lost 90 games, a franchise record that would stand until 1920, and they were pretty pathetic at the plate even by dead ball era standards.  Probably the only thing that stopped them from being even worse was that the Washington Senators, who lost 113 games in 1904, were historically bad and it’s not ironic that the Senators were the only team that season that the Tigers had a winning record against (12-8).

At the plate, the Tigers hit .231/.278/.292 as a team, which put them in seventh place in the American League in each of those categories.  To put it into perspective, the Tigers slick fielding second baseman, Bobby Lowe, notched an OPS+ of 58, and this was a guy who played in 140 games.  Even Hall of Famer Sam Crawford had an off year.  From 1901 through 1915, his single season OPS+ dipped below 130 only one time and that was in 1904 when he came out at 114.  He did lead the team in slugging with .361 and RBIs with 73. 

The pitching wasn’t that much better.  The Tigers finished with a team ERA of 2.77 (ERA+ of 92) and that put them sixth in the league.  They finished with two 20 game losers (George Mullin with 23 and Ed Killian with 20) and only Wild Bill Donovan finished with a winning record (17-16).  George Mullin threw a ton of innings, but he also gave up a bunch of base runners and his 131 would lead the league (the second of four straight seasons he’d walk more batters then anyone in the AL).  The Tigers walked more batters then any other team  in the league (433) and they were only sixth in strikeouts (556).  Most importantly, the Tigers gave up more runs (627)  then every team except the Senators.

The 1904 Tigers actually got off to a decent start with an 8-7 record.   That would be the last time they’d have a winning record though and they lost their next eight games.  The made a decent run in August (their only month with a winning record, 14-13) but then they went 15-27 down the stretch.

1905 would bring new hope to the franchise.  Ty Cobb would make his debut and the Tigers pitching staff would put together a solid season but for 1904, the Tigers have the Senators to thank for keeping them out of the cellar.



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