Greatest baseball turnaround ever?

Tom Verducci makes the case that the greated reversal in baseball history has just occurred with the Tigers making the World Series. Although they didn’t have the worst record of any World Series team in the season before they reached the World Series (that “honor” belongs to the the 1991 Atlanta Braves), they had the largest number of consecutive losing seasons before their day in the sun, twelve seasons of futility:

Does all this make the Tigers the most shocking World Series team of all time? Yes. At the very least, they are on the short list with the 1914 Braves, ’69 Mets and ’91 Braves. But the Tigers get slightly more shock value because they were worse in their pre-World Series season (.438) than the ’14 Braves (.457) or the ’69 Mets (.451). And while the ’91 Braves made a bigger turnaround (.401), they weren’t as bad for nearly as long (seven losing years) as the Tigers (12 losing years). Simply put, no World Series team has ever been worse for longer than the 2006 Tigers.

How can you not root for this team to take it all? They’re the ultimate underdogs!


  1. #1 Seldom
    October 19, 2006

    Yeah they have been bad, and I don’t think anyone would have predicted them making the World Series this year, but surely they aren’t the most shocking team ever. As much as baseball is game of statistics, I don’t think that is the way to look at this. Anyone who has been paying attention could see that they had a talented young pitching staff that just needed time and experience to come around. In any case, a great story. I will be rooting for them if my Cardinals don’t pull it out tonight!

  2. #2 ben
    October 19, 2006

    Underdogs … Tigers … does not compute.

    Fry: Wait a second! I know that monkey. His name is Donkey. Professor: Monkeys aren’t donkeys! Quit messing with my head!

  3. #3 Abel Pharmboy
    October 19, 2006

    Am keeping my fingers crossed that my boyhood Mets, the original underdogs, pull out game 7 of the NLCS so we can have a Respectful Insolence/Terra Sigillata World Series. Not quite a “Subway Series,” but it just flows off the tongue nicely, doesn’t it?

  4. #4 Prup aka Jim Benton
    October 19, 2006

    There are a couple of reasons why I can only award the Tigers the silver in this one. The 69 Mets had NEVER had a winning season, had never finished above 9th (ten team league, no divisions until 69, remember) and were in last as late as May of 69. Besides, the Tigers did NOT manage to win their division.

    (Ironically, 1969 was the only time I moved out of New York for an extended time … to Baltimore. My sense of timing was, even then, impeccable. So, since there was no ESPN and few national broadcasts, I didn’t even get to enjoy it.)

    I think we’ll pull it out, Abel, I’ve been predicting a Tigers-Mets Series long before Orac stopped saying ‘oh, they’ll fade, sure, but it’s nice they are doing this well.’

    (On the other hand, have you noticed how often Orac has been ‘traveling’ just before a Tigers spurt. I still think he is performing some sort of weird surgery on them. Fortunately, he’s been around this week, so no chance of him working his medical magic. Wait, they’ll be coming to NY, he doesn’t HAVE to go to them. Be afraid, be very afraid.)

  5. #5 Prup aka Jim Benton
    October 20, 2006

    NOW I can unreservedly root for the Tigers — though I wish I didn’t have to. (*Sniff* *Sniff* *Sob*)


    GO TIGERS!!!

  6. #6 anonimouse
    October 20, 2006

    The Tigers lost 119 games three years ago, and would’ve broken the Mets record for futility had they not “choked” by sweeping the final series of the season.

    This is as big a turnaroud as I’ve seen in a long time, right up there with Northwestern going to the Rose Bowl some years back after being non-competitive for years.

  7. #7 Ivan
    October 21, 2006

    What a load of hooey. Major Leaguy Basebal teams are supposed to start winning after losing for season after season. The draft is set up that way. The reason it took 12 years is that the Tigers were freaking incompentent for at least 8 of them. You are having a good season, topped off by getting on a hot streak when it matters the most. Enjoy it! But don’t try to make it a great turn around. Three years ago the Tigers were trying to lose a lot of game by playing lots of young kids. Then they started spending money on free agents and voila- three years later they have one of the 4 best teams in the major leagues.

  8. #8 Kiwiwriter
    October 23, 2006

    The Tigers will have a much harder time next year…they will be taken more seriously than this year, and face tougher pitching alignments, better scouting reports, and so on. Examples of this are the 1970 Mets, the 1992 Twins, and of course, the 1985 Detroit Tigers…once the neck has felt the breath.

    However, Detroit and Tiger fans should enjoy this while they can. No doubt in my mind the Tigers will demolish the Cardinals in short order.

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