Detroit Tigers Top 10 Most Memorable Moments of 2016

BY Fansided and Kristen Bentley/FanSided via Motor City Bengals • December 28, 2016

Sep 18, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. The Tigers won 9-5. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the fact that the Detroit Tigers did not make it to the playoffs, there were still plenty of moments that are worth remembering. Some of the moments turned into unforgettable wins, while others were unbelievably infuriating. Oddly, many of the moments occurred against the same team – the Houston Astros.

The 2016 Detroit Tigers had outstanding pitching, hitting, and defensive plays that were worth showcasing on several highlight reels. As expected, many moments were created by the top players like Ian Kinsler, Justin Verlander, and of course, Miguel Cabrera. But, other Tigers got involved in the hype including both catchers, James McCann and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. These moments defined the consistent inconsistency that the Tigers displayed all season.

So, as we close out 2016, let’s look back on the moments that make us all proud to be loyal fans of the Detroit Tigers.

Apr 15, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler runs to first on a leadoff single during the first inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

10. Ian Kinsler drops an easy pop-up

On April 17, the best second baseman in the game missed an easy pop-up, on purpose. Kinsler showed off his baseball intelligence in a game against the Houston Astros. Colby Rasmus was on first base and Tyler White hit a light pop-up that went over Kinsler. Fortunately, Kinsler was aware that Rasmus was a faster baserunner than White. So, Kinsler simply let the ball drop right to the ground. He picked it up and threw out Rasmus as second. This allowed White to reach first base safely.

This moment was memorable simply because it was so unexpected. At first, it seemed like Kinsler made an unforgivable mistake. No one could believe he just dropped an easy popup that most Little Leaguers could catch. Then, the brillance of it emerged. It was such quick thinking by Kinsler. This moment might have helped Kinsler finally get the Gold Glove award that he has deserved for years.

The moment was shocking for the Astros and the umpires, who had to take a few moments to discuss what actually happened. What was so confusing about the play was that odd “infield-fly” rule. But, the rule is only in effect if there are runners on first and second base.

Sep 28, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias (1) smiles in the dugout before the game against the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park. Game called for bad weather after 5 innings. Tigers win 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

9. Jose Iglesias hits a walk-off single

In another game against the Houston Astros, Iglesias let the fans see how fast he really is. On July 30, with the score tied at 2, Iglesias hit a little infield bloop that the first baseman had to field. The pitcher, Will Harris, had to make the out. Unfortunately for him, Iglesias’s foot landed on the bag before his did. But, the play did require a review to confirm the single.

Iglesias’s single came at the perfect time. With two outs, Tyler Collins was on third base and James McCann was on first. The single allowed Collins to score and the Tigers won the game. While walk-off wins are memorable on their own merit, it was Iglesias’s celebration after he crossed first that made this one so special. He immediately shot his arms in the air and pumped his chest toward the sky. His helmet toss was epic, too. It just doesn’t get much better than moments like that!

Aug 26, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) pitches in the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

8. Justin Verlander strikes out 11 Astros in a complete game.

It seems like the Tigers were at their best against the Houston Astros. In the same game where Tyler Collins crossed home plate after the Jose Iglesias walk-off single, Justin Verlander pitched one of his best games of the season. On July 30, Verlander pitched his only complete game of the season. Not only was pitching a complete game an accomplishment, but Verlander also managed to strikeout 11 batters that day. He allowed two runs on five hits. He gave up one walk. He faced 32 batters – not too bad.

JV should always pitch on August 26. In 2015, he pitched a one-hitter against the Los Angeles Angels in a slightly more memorable moment than this one against the Astros.

Of course, the fans rewarded JV for his outstanding effort. He received several standing ovations throughout the season, but none were quite as large and loud as the one he received in the eighth inning of this game. Fans were wondering if he would come back in the ninth, and when he did, the crowd was amazed.

July was the proof that JV was back to full health. His .169 ERA in July was the best in the AL and rightfully, he was awarded the AL Pitcher of the Month.

Jul 31, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers catcher James McCann (34) hits a grand slam home run in the first inning against the Houston Astros at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

7. James McCann hits a Granny

In another game against the Houston Astros on July 31, James McCann hit his very first grand slam. This big home run helped the Tigers win 11-0 and continued a 6-game winning streak. While it is clear that McCann’s strength is on defense, this grand slam did show that he does have some power in the bat. (If only he could channel it more frequently).

While the grand slam was a beautiful hit out to left field, the timing was outstanding, too. His hit came shortly after the trade deadline, where many people were discussing the potential of trading him for Jonathan Lucroy. Of course, we all know how it turned out – the Texas Rangers got him and made it to the playoffs.

It appears that McCann will continue to be the Tigers number one catcher, even with the re-signing of Alex Avila. It is well known that McCann is one of the hardest working players on the team and he is often the last player to leave Comerica Park. McCann said to MLB.com’s, Kyle Berry: “I think it’s a lot easier to be under-prepared than it is over-prepared. At the end of the day, I never want anyone to be able to say, ‘He didn’t work hard enough and wasn’t prepared enough.’ That’s never going to be an excuse.”

Sep 27, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) hits a three run home run in the second inning against the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

6. Miguel Cabrera reaches jaw-dropping milestones

Just when it seems like he’s on a downturn, Cabrera just keeps hitting. In 2016, the best hitter in baseball reached a handful of milestones. In 2016, he hit seven new milestones. They include:

    He also had his 12th season of more than 100 RBIs. One of the most amazing milestones he reached after only 14 years in the MLB was hitting a home run against every MLB team. He did this on June 28 against the Miami Marlins. He also reached a milestone that only the best power hitters achieve: he had his 1500th strikeouts in 2016.

    It’s already a known fact that Cabrera’s statistics are comparable to iconic baseball players like Hank Aaron, Frank Robison, Ken Griffey, Willie Mays, Manny Ramirez, and Mickey Mantle. Cabrera’s biggest contemporary competition is fellow slugger Albert Pujols.

    To make 2016 even better for Miggy, he also achieved the rare feat of hitting a home run OUT of Comerica Park. Enjoy.

    Next: Entering the Top 5

    Jul 17, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (39) hits a game winning two run home run in the ninth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park. Detroit won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    5. Salty and the walk-off home run

    It was fun to be a Detroit Tigers fan in July. The team was 16-10 and had two walk-off wins. Unfortunately, July also saw two Chicago White Sox walk-off wins against the Tigers, too. But, one of the most memorable walk-off wins was on July 17 against the Kansas City Royals. Fransisco Rodriguez was pitching against former Tiger Joakim Soria. The game was tied at two.

    Jarrod Saltalamacchia was catching that day. In the bottom of the ninth, Tyler Collins singled off of Soria. Salty was up to bat and he later commented that he was actually expecting a bunt sign. Instead, he got a fastball and took the opportunity to smash it out of the park.

    Salty’s day at the plate defined his type of offense: three true outcomes. That day, he struck out, walked, and homered. No defense is involved in any of those outcomes.

    Next: Unexpected Moment at #4

    Aug 28, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez (41) at bat against the Los Angeles Angels at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    4. Four Tigers ejected by grumpy umpire

    August 27, 2016 was one of the strangest days at Comerica Park. On this day, four Tigers were ejected by Mike Everitt. The trouble began with Victor Martinez who was very vocal about Everitt’s strike zone. During his second at-bat, Martinez became so incensed that Everitt ejected him.

    Martinez wasted no time telling Everitt what he thought of him and he ended the tirade by throwing his helmet from the dugout to the field. In the fifth inning, Wally Joyner and Brad Ausmus were both ejected after Ian Kinsler was called out on strikes. Then, the most unexpected ejection occurred in the sixth when the mild-mannered J.D. Martinez was thrown out for asking Everitt a question after a called strikeout.

    This day marked the first time that J.D. Martinez had ever been ejected. He is such a calming force that he actually held back Victor Martinez during his third-inning ejection. Victor Martinez is also rarely thrown out of games; he has four ejections in his long career.

    Sadly, the Tigers lost the game by a score of 3-2 to the Los Angeles Angels. But, the multiple ejections brought the fans against one common enemy: Mike Everitt. At one point, the entire stadium was chanting “You Suck!” to the umpire. It is a rare moment when the umpire’s name is known. Everitt will be one of those umpires that will be difficult to forget.

    May 16, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus (7) walks off the field after getting ejected in the fifth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    3. Brad Ausmus strips at home plate

    One of the biggest complaints about Brad Ausmus is his lack of emotion during games. On May 16 in a game against the Minnesota Twins, Ausmus showed that he really does care. He was seriously angered by the umpire, Doug Eddings, and his strike calls against Nick Castellanos. Prior to Castellanos called strikes, other Tigers returned to the dugout complaining about Eddings’ strike zone.

    As Castellanos walked back to the dugout in the fourth inning, Ausmus made his way back out. The reserved skipper was anything but. Eddings was hit with a barrage of swears accompanied by spittle-covered several shells of sunflower seeds. But, that wasn’t enough for Ausmus. He continued his tirade by removing his hat and his sweatshirt. Ausmus then used the sweatshirt to cover up home plate because Eddings couldn’t see it anyway.

    Many people questioned whether or not the moment was staged. It did endear the fans to Ausmus, even if only for a short time. The sweatshirt was auctioned off for $5010 with the money going to the Detroit Tigers Foundation.

    Aug 14, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Michael Fulmer (32) reacts to winning a complete game against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Detroit Tigers won 7-0. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    2. Michael Fulmer vs. the Texas Rangers

    This game cemented the fact that Michael Fulmer is for real. The 2016 Rookie of the Year proved that he could go the distance and pitch a shutout. He did it on August 14, 2016 against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas. The Tigers won this game 7-0.

    As a native of Oklahoma, Fulmer had several of his family members in the seats. His family’s presence at the park seemed to drive up Fulmer’s mojo. At the time of the meeting, the Rangers were the best offense in the MLB. Fulmer held the Rangers to four hits and he threw nine strikeouts. He pitched the entire game – his first one as a Major League pitcher.

    The Tigers offense did its part that day, too. With 13 hits and 4 home runs, it seemed like the entire team wanted Fulmer to get this win. Victor Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, and Ian Kinsler hit dingers that day. But, the most memorable home run belonged to J.D. Martinez who hit his 100th into the left-field stands. As usual, Kinsler was booed by the fans of the Rangers. Both Martinez’s hit doubles in that game, too. And, the day before, the Rangers were shut out by Matt Boyd!

    Fulmer ended the game with 112 pitches after facing 30 batters. Keep in mind, that the minimum is 27. Not too shabby, Mr. Fulmer.

    Aug 3, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias (1) dumps water on J.D. Martinez (28) after the game against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Detroit won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    #1. J.D. Martinez returns with a bang

    After missing some of June and all of July, J.D. Martinez showed the fans why they love him so much. This moment will go down in Tigers’ lore as one of the most iconic events ever to occur at the home stadium.

    On August 3, the Tigers were facing a tough Chris Sale and a 1-1 tie with the Chicago White Sox. In a bold move, Brad Ausmus chose to put Martinez in the game to pinch hit. Martinez had been on the DL since June 16 after fracturing his elbow in a game at Kauffman Stadium against the Kansas City Royals.

    As soon as Martinez walked out of the dugout, the crowd went wild giving him a standing ovation. The plan for Martinez was just to get on base, but the power of the crowd put a little extra something into his bat. He stepped up to the plate, pinch-hitting in the 8th inning for James McCann. Sale threw the pitch and Martinez swung.

    The rest is history.

    As Martinez rounded the bases, the fans went crazy. The team ran from the dugout to congratulate the return of J.D. Ian Kinsler captured the feeling of the moment perfectly when he said the hit was “almost like a movie tonight. That was special. That was something I probably never seen before.”

    We fans agree with Kinsler. It was the moment that makes baseball the best game ever. It was also the most memorable moment for the Detroit Tigers in 2016.

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