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History of Detroit Tigers and Baseball's Most Valuable Player Award

Ty Cobb, Hank Greenberg, Hal Newhouser and More

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The Detroit Tigers have had their fair share of great players over the years. In fact, the team has had nine of the American League's Most Valuable Players (MVPs) -- eleven if you figure that Hank Greenberg and Hal Newhouser received the honor twice. Several of the players listed in the History of the Detroit Tigers and Baseball's Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) also received the Cy Young Award and/or were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

1911: Ty Cobb

Ty Cobb in Detroit Tigers Uniform
Photo © New York Times Co. / Contributor / Getty Images
Claim to Fame: Hitter
Nickname: “Georgia Peach”
Inducted into Hall of Fame: 1936

Ty Cobb hailed from Narrows, Georgia but spent the bulk of his career with the Detroit Tigers from 1905-1926. For the last five of those years, he also served as the team's manager (1921 to 1926). The center fielder still holds the title of top hitter in baseball with a career average of .367. He also stole 892 bases over the course of his career. Cobb batted left but threw right.

1934: Gordon Stanley Cochrane

Mickey Cochran
Photo © Leslie Jones, courtesy of Boston Public Library (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Claim to Fame: Hitter, Catcher, Leadership
Nickname: "Mickey"
Inducted into Hall of Fame: 1947

Cochrane hailed from Bridgewater, Massachusetts. While he spent the bulk of his career with the Philadelphia Athletics, he spent the last few years with the Detroit Tigers. His career batting average from .320. “Black Mike” was known for his motivating leadership. In fact, Cochrane, as a player-manager for the Tigers from 1934 to 1937, helped lead them to the pennant in 1934 and the World Series in 1935. He also was a scout and a vice president for the Tigers. His career ended suddenly in 1937 when he was hit in the head while at bat. Cochrane batted left but threw right.

1935/1940: Hank Greenberg

Lou Gehrig and Hank Greenberg, 1935
Photo © FPG / Archive Photos / Getty Images
Claim to Fame: Hits/Home Runs, First Jewish player
Nickname: "Hammerin' Hank"
Retired Tigers Jersey: #5
Inducted into Hall of Fame: 1956

Greenberg hailed from New York but spent most of his career with the Detroit Tigers both before and after suffering a fractured wrist and serving in World War II. He helped the Tigers make the World Series four times. The first baseman stood 6'3”. He hit 331 home runs over 13 seasons and gave Babe Ruth a run for his money when he hit 58 home runs in 1938. He batted and threw right.

1937: Charlie Gehringer

Charlie Gehringer
Photo © FPG / Archive Photos / Getty Images
Claim to Fame: Consistent hitter, Great fielder, Second baseman
Nickname: "The Mechanical Man"
Retired Tigers Jersey: #2
Inducted into Hall of Fame: 1949

Michigan born and raised, Gehringer was born in Fowlerville and spent his entire career with the Detroit Tigers. The “Mechanical Man” was a remarkably consistent hitter. In fact, he batted over .300 in 13 seasons, and his lifetime hit average was .320. In 1937, he had a .371 hitting average. Gehringer was the general manager of the Tigers from 1950-1953.

1944/1945: Hal Newhouser

Hal Newhouser
Photo © : Leslie Jones, courtesy Boston Public Library ((CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Claim to Fame: Fastball
Nickname: “Prince Hal”
Retired Tigers Jersey: #16
Inducted into Hall of Fame: 1992

Newhouser was born and raised in Detroit and spent the bulk of his career (1939-1953) with the Detroit Tigers. The pitcher had an amazing fastball that helped the Tigers capture two World Series victories. Newhouser bats and throws lefty.

1968: Dennis McLain

Denny McLain
Photo © Tom Hagerty (Lakelandlocal, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Claim to Fame: Pitcher
Nickname: "Denny"
Cy Young Award: 1968, 1969

McClain hailed from Chicago, Illinois. He worked his way up through the Detroit farm system and debuted with the Detroit Tigers in 1963, when he was only 20 years old and where he hit his only major-league home run. The pitcher is one of only a handful of major league pitchers to win 30 or more games in a single season. Unfortunately, many of his accomplishments were eclipsed by bad behavior, financial woes and scandal. He left Detroit in 1970 and baseball in 1972 (when he was only 29 years old). Biography

1984: Guillermo Hernandez

Guillermo "Willie" Hernandez
Photo © Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images
Claim to Fame: Relief pitcher
Nickname: "Willie"
Cy Young Award: 1984

Willie Hernandez hails from Puerto Rico. The 6'3” pitcher started his career with the Chicago Cubs but didn't hit his stride, so to speak, until he was traded to the Detroit Tigers in 1984 as a relief pitcher. In 1984, he lead the league in games played and games finished. He stayed with the Tigers until 1989.

2011: Justin Verlander

Justin Verlander
Photo © Leon Halip / Getty Images Sport
Claim to Fame: Fastball
Cy Young Award: 2011

Born and raised in Virginia, Justin Verlander was drafted in the first round of 2004 by the Detroit Tigers, where he remains to this day. The 6'5” pitcher won the American League's Rookie of the Year award in 2006. He pitches and bats right handed and has a fastball that can clock over 100 mph,. He also has an amazing repetoire of pitches that include a curve ball, slider and change up. While he has been known to lead the league in wild pitches, he has also led the league in completed games and strikeouts.

2012: Miguel Cabrera

Miguel Cabrera
Photo © Kyle Rivas / Getty Images Sport
Claim to Fame: Hitter

Cabrera hails from Venezuela and has played several positions throughout his career, including third base, left field and first base. The 6'4” player started his career with the Florida Marlins but was traded to the Detroit Tigers in 2007, where he played first base. He has since earned the American League batting title in both 2011 and 2012. During various seasons throughout his career, Cabrera has led the league in total bases, doubles, runs batted in, and home runs.
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