Howard Johnson was one of those Tigers who got away. The switch hitting rookie had a solid campaign his first season, hitting twelve homeruns and driving in fifty in 355 at bats. But for whatever reason, he never was on Sparky’s good side and during the offseason, he was traded to the Mets for Walt Terrell, a solid left handed starter.
HoJo then went on to have three 30/30 seasons, and he finished in the top 10 of the MVP voting three times for the Mets. In 1991, he led the league in homeruns (38) and RBIs (117) and was seventh in OPS (.877). The Tigers on the other hand, went through Tom Brookens (a solid player and a fan favorite, but hardly an all star as he hit .246 for his career), Darnell Coles (had a solid 1986, but nothing much after that), Rick Schu (.214 as a starter in 1989), and Tony Phillips (utility man who played more at third then anywhere else) during Johnson’s peak years. It wasn’t until Travis Fryman in 1991 when the Tigers developed a regular, everyday third basemen.
But enough about my gripes. Here’s the the numbers on HoJo’s rookie season:
Runs Created 45
Batting Runs Above Replacement 13
Fielding Runs Above Replacement 6
Equalized Average .260
Wins Above Replacement Player 2.1
Scorecard – 1975 Reds 4, 1984 Tigers 0