DETROIT TIGERS

Every spring the Tigers promise much, but when summer rolls around they deliver little. This year they are keeping quiet, hoping that this team of many stars can finally do what everyone feels it should do—contend for the pennant
April 13, 1959

STRONG POINTS
The pitching is here and so is the hitting, with the defense sound in most spots. Frank Lary, Jim Bunning, Paul Foytack and Billy Hoeft could be a strong starting foursome. Don Mossi and Ray Narleski, the lefty-righty relief stars of Cleveland's pennant drive in 1954, form a powerful bullpen combination. Lary, with the league's best earned run average for right-handers, humiliated the World Champion Yankees a record-breaking seven times last year while losing to them only once. Bunning didn't win 20 as he did two seasons ago but he did throw a no-hitter, and he ranked second in the league in strikeouts. Foytack has averaged 15 wins a year over the last three seasons, and Hoeft, who looked very sharp this spring, furnishes left-handed strength on the staff. Only Al Kaline keeps Al Kaline from living up to all the potential he showed as a 20-year-old batting champ four years ago. A marvelous player who can do just about everything, Kaline should be at his prime. Former All-Star Shortstop Harvey Kuenn moved to center field last season and became an All-Star outfielder. More at ease out there, Kuenn hit .319, six points ahead of Kaline. Left Fielder Charley Maxwell lost some of his effectiveness in 1958 but is still a fairly dangerous hitter. At second, Frank Boiling is an awfully good fielder who makes all the plays and also hits with some power. Gail Harris, who could never make it with the Giants, became the regular first baseman in mid-June and proceeded to lead the team in home runs with 20. Red Wilson is not the best fielding catcher in the league but he did bat .299, and few other catchers can boast of an average that high. The veteran Johnny Groth has always been a fine outfielder, and as a reserve last season hit .281. Big Gus Zernial, who is a detriment with a glove on his hand but a terror with a bat, led all American League pinch hitters with a .395 average.

WEAK SPOTS
Despite the fine team batting average (.266), there is a woeful lack of power. Tiger batters hit only 109 home runs, which didn't come close to making up for the 133 given up by Tiger pitchers. Of the team's 77 defeats, 45 were by the margin of one or two runs. Plenty of men were getting on base, but the big hit was lacking when it was most needed. Kuenn, Wilson, Boiling and newcomers Bridges and Yost are mainly singles hitters, and last year so were Kaline and Maxwell. The infield reserves are good fielders but poor hitters. And beyond the big six of the pitching staff you find too many names like George Susce, Henry Aguirre and Herman Wehmeier—all of whom show skill but none of whom can be counted on.

ROOKIES AND NEW FACES
Last year the Tigers were short on relief and miserable on the left side of the infield. That should all be changed now that some major league players have been obtained to fill in the gaps. From Cleveland came Ray Narleski and Don Mossi, once the best relief tandem in the world. Both had their fling at starting, but now will be strictly relievers, once again, in Detroit. Eddie Yost, the longtime Washington third baseman, was for years the best lead-off man in the league, unparalleled at drawing walks. A smart baseball man who inspires in a quiet way, he could be the leader the Tigers thought they had last season in Billy Martin. Tobacco-chewing Rocky Bridges became a regular, at long last, in Washington and ended up on the All-Star team. He knows how to play shortstop, and he is as good a hitter as anyone who played short last year for the Tigers. Lou Berberet, with Boston in 1958, could give Wilson a tussle for the first-string job. Southpaw Pete Burnside, who always has a world of stuff in the minors but never seems to be able to show it in the majors, looked impressive this spring, and at 28 may have matured into a dependable starting pitcher. Aging Larry Doby, traded from the Indians, adds a power hitter to the bench who can play in the outfield.

THE BIG IFS
Kaline and Maxwell have to start hitting home runs again, and Gail Harris has to show he is really a good hitter. If Eddie Yost has slowed down too much after all those frustrating years of service for the Senators, and Rocky Bridges doesn't solve the annual shortstop problem, it's back again to such as Coot Veal and Ozzie Virgil. If Lary could beat somebody besides the Yankees for a change and Hoeft could show the form that brought him 20 wins three years ago, the Tigers will be able to match their staff with any other in the league.

THE OUTLOOK
With a minimum of the old hoopla this spring, the Tigers have tried to eliminate glaring inadequacies. There has always been a plenitude of talent on this club, but most of it has been pulling in different directions. It will be up to Manager Bill Norman to blend everyone into a team that thinks more about winning than individual performance. If he succeeds, the Tigers, fifth last year, will finish well up in the first division.

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PHOTOIF THE DETROIT TIGERS ARE TO BECOME PENNANT CONTENDERS AT LAST, AL KALINE MUST NOT ONLY LEAD THE TEAM AT BAT, HE MUST LEAD THE TEAM PHOTOKUENN PHOTOBOLLING PHOTOHARRIS PHOTOMAXWELL PHOTOWILSON PHOTOYOST PHOTOBRIDGES PHOTOBUNNING PHOTOLARY PHOTOFOYTACK PHOTOHOEFT PHOTONARLESKI ILLUSTRATION

BASIC ROSTER

NO.

NAME

POSITION

1958 RECORD

1

EDDIE YOST

3B

.224

2

FRANK BOLLING

2B

.269

3

JOHNNY GROTH

OF

.281

4

CHARLEY MAXWELL

LF

.272

5

GAIL HARRIS

1B

.273

6

AL KALINE

RF

.313

7

HARVEY KUENN

CF

.319

8

ROCKY BRIDGES

SS

.263

9

GUS ZERNIAL

OF

.323

10

RED WILSON

C

.299

11

LOU BERUERET

C

.208

22

OZZIE VIRGIL

3B

.244

23

COOT VEAL

SS

.256

14

JIM BUNNING

P

14-2

15

DON MOSSI

P

7-8

16

RAY NARLESKI

P

13-10

17

FRANK LARY

P

16-15

18

TOM MORGAN

P

2-5

21

PAUL FOYTACK

P

15-13

44

BILLY HOEFT

P

10-9

PAST PERFORMANCE CHART

YEAR

FINISHED

WON

LOST

GAMES BEHIND

1958

5

77

77

15

1957

4

78

76

20

1956

5

82

72

15

1955

5

79

75

17

1954

5

68

86

43

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

BATTING

PITCHING

1958

KUENN

.319

LARY

16-15

1957

KALINE

.295

BUNNING

20-8

1956

KUENN

.332

LARY

21-13

1955

KALINE

.340

HOEFT

16-7

1954

KUENN

.306

GROMEK

18-16

HOME RUNS

RUNS BATTED IN

1958

HARRIS

20

KALINE

85

1957

MAXWELL

24

KALINE

90

1956

MAXWELL

28

KALINE

128

1955

KALINE

27

BOONE

116

1954

BOONE

20

BOONE

85

HOME SCHEDULE

*Night game

APRIL

CHICAGO

10,11,12

CLEVELAND

21*,22,23

BALTIMORE

28*,29

WASHINGTON

30

MAY

WASHINGTON

1,2

NEW YORK

3,3

BOSTON

5*,6,7

KANSAS CITY

8*,9,10

CLEVELAND

31

JUNE

CLEVELAND

1

NEW YORK

2*,3*,4

WASHINGTON

5*,6,7

BOSTON

23*,24,25

BALTIMORE

26*,27,28

KANSAS CITY

29,30*

JULY

KANSAS CITY

1

CHICAGO

2*,3

CLEVELAND

4,4,5

WASHINGTON

21*,22,23

NEW YORK

24*,25,26

BALTIMORE

27,28*,29,30

BOSTON

31*

AUGUST

BOSTON

1,2

CHICAGO

11*,12,13

CLEVELAND

14*,15,16

NEW YORK

18*,19*,20

BOSTON

21*,22

BALTIMORE

23,23

WASHINGTON

25*,26

SEPTEMBER

KANSAS CITY

4,5,6,22,23

CHICAGO

25,26,27

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)