This is the next installment in my ongoing series covering MLB’s Franchise Four initiative.
Detroit Tigers Franchise Four
The first thing you notice with the Tigers list is the dearth of pitchers. Justin Verlander is the only nominee, which is mildly surprising given the love Jack Morris gets from nostalgists. It’s also a bit surprising that Norm Cash didn’t make the list, although I’m not sure who you’d exclude. This is a fine eightsome:
- Miguel Cabrera
- Justin Verlander
- Ty Cobb
- Al Kaline
- Charlie Gehringer
- Sam Crawford
- Hank Greenberg
- Alan Trammell
So here’s my ballot:
- Ty Cobb. Up there with Ruth in the discussion for the greatest player ever.
- Al Kaline. Franchise leader in HR. Great defensive right-fielder.
- Hank Greenberg. A two-time MVP and a Hall of Famer.
- Miguel Cabrera. It’s hard to leave Gehringer off the list, but I think Cabrera probably deserves this final spot. A two-time MVP, three-time batting champ, and winner of the first triple crown in 45 years.
I think Alan Trammell may win a spot in the final fan vote, perhaps edging out Greenberg.
Cleveland Indians Franchise Four
Here are the nominees for Cleveland:
- Nap Lajoie
- Jim Thome
- Bob Feller
- Larry Doby
- Omar Vizquel
- Tris Speaker
- Earl Averill
- Lou Boudreau
Jim Thome is the franchise leader in homers by a large margin, but I’m not sure you can include him in the final four.
- Tris Speaker. An all-time great. Bill James ranks him as the fourth greatest CF, one spot ahead of Joe Dimaggio. Speaker spent the first half of his career in Boston, but he still had a decade in Cleveland. He still ranks as the all-time leader in doubles.
- Nap Lajoie. A name very few remember these days, but Lajoie was one of the best keystoners to play the game.
- Bob Feller. A list like this must include Feller, the franchise leader in wins, innings pitched, and strikeouts.
- Larry Doby. You could argue for Averill, but I’m going with Doby, an oft-overlooked five-tool talent. In Speaker, Doby, and Averill, the Indians have some of the best center fielders the game has ever seen.
How will the final vote shake out? Recency bias probably means both Vizquel and Thome make the cut, likely at the expense of Doby and another player, which is ridiculous.