Who would have ever guessed when the Detroit Tigers’ 2008 season began that the standouts on the team would be its rookies?
Back in March, the Tigers’ lineup was considered by experts to be a self-contained All-Star team after the signing of Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis, and Edgar Renteria. Speculation was that they were going to win the World Series and that upward of 7 or 8 Detroit Tigers would be voted into the mid-season classic. This wasn’t just Sports Illustrated and ESPN talking. It was everybody — including the other teams in baseball.
Last night’s game in Texas is a great example of the roll unknown talent has played this year — and why it offers true hope for a struggling franchise. Armando Galarraga pitched brilliantly for his team-leading 12th win of the year and fellow rookie Matt Joyce hit two home runs to lead a late inning, come-from-behind rally to pull out an impressive win.
All season, though, it’s been guys like Galarraga, Joyce, Clete Thomas, Ryan Raburn, Jeff Larish, Mike Hessman and Timo Perez who have captured the imaginations of the fans. When the big name guys let us down, the no-name guys picked us up. They play harder than their rich teammates and it shows. Great diving catches, hustling on the base paths, admirable intensity and concentration. These guys don’t laugh after a bad at-bat. They look truly concerned.
The Tigers’ young talent is certainly the bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season.