I've heard the question many times on sports talk radio on "who's on your Mount Rushmore" for this or that and decided to put a little thought (no really, just a little thought) and came up with the four above. If you're unfamiliar with the concept, it's basically determining the four best or most important figures (although not limited to that criteria) and saying I would carve their faces in to stone and they'll last the test of time.
In my opinion Ty Cobb, Al Kaline, Hank Greenberg, and Miguel Cabrera are the best players to ever play for the Detroit Tigers. I give you a brief case for each and would love to hear who's on yours.
By all accounts a miserable person to be around and a racist, but the all-time career batting average leader knew how to hit and although Babe Ruth came out of the first 30 years of the 1900's as the best player, Cobb actually received more Hall of Fame votes leading the inaugural class in 1936. Ty won 12 batting titles in all, a Triple Crown, and the AL MVP in 1911. If WAR was around then, he would of finished at 151.2, 6th all-time. Cobb's career batting average of .366 is the best all-time and leads the likes of Rogers Hornsby (.358), Shoeless Joe Jackson (.355), with Tony Gwynn finishing the highest (.338) in the last 50 years. Cobb still ranks 2nd all-time in runs scored (2,246), 2nd in hits (4,189), 5th in total bases (5,854), 4th in doubles (724), 2nd in triples (295), 8th in runs batted in (1,938), and 4th in stolen bases (897)
Greenberg only played for 13 years which was cut short to due serving in the military during World War II between 1941 and 1945. Greenberg won 2 MVP's with the second coming the season before he entered the military. Hank clubbed 58 homers in 1938 and collected 183 RBI in 1937. Although a power hitter, Hank hit a career .313 (77th all-time), ranks 6th all-time in slugging with a .605 percentage, and 6th all-time in OPS (on base + slugging) at 1.017, and again even though he played for only 13 seasons collected 331 home runs and 1,276 runs driven in. Baseball-Reference.com scores Greenberg closest to Miguel Cabrera (although that will continue to change for Miguel), Johnny Mize, Albert Belle, and Mark Teixeira. Greenberg went in to the Hall of Fame in 1956 with 85% of the vote (took him 9 tries)
Mr. Tiger played all 22 years of his career with the Tigers and still to this day is seen around the park and camp. Kaline started his career at the age of 18 in 1953 and never looked back winning a batting title at the age of 20 and becoming the youngest player to ever win the AL title. Although he never won the MVP aware, Kaline did finish 2nd in the voting twice and in the top five two more times. Al won 10 Gold Gloves over his career, ranks 41st in career WAR (92.7), finished with a .297 career batting average, .855 OPS, 3,007 hits, 4,852 total bases (24th), and 399 home runs. Baseball-Reference.com compares Kaline closest to Harold Baines, Dave Winfield, Billy Williams, Andrew Dawson, and Tony Perez. Al Kaline was a first ballot Hall of Famer in 1980 with 88.3% of the vote.
Wondering how much heat I'll take for this one over guys like Charlie Gehringer, Harry Heilmann, Micky Cochrane, Hal Newhouser, and others, however before all is said and done, we could be talking about one of the top 10 right handed hitters of all time. Miggy is just 30 years old but with his 11th season in progress has already collected 1,952 hits, 408 doubles, 357 home runs, 1,233 runs batted in, a .321 career batting average, a .969 OPS, an MVP, and 4 additional top-5 MVP finishes. I don't need to mention the Triple Crown do I? Cabrera, like Albert Pujols seems to be a once or twice in a generation type hitter who continues to get better. His career still has a long ways to go we hope, but currently he ranks 237th in career WAR at 54.1, has the 12th highest slugging percentage (.569), 15th best on base percentage (.569), and 15th best OPS. Again, there's a long way to go, however in comparison, Baseball-Reference.com compares Cabrera to Albert Belle, Chuck Klein, Mark Teixeira, Greenberg, and Jermaine Dye, but that is based on his current numbers and there career numbers. When comparing to players at the age of 29, Cabrera ranks closest to Frank Robinson, Hank Aaron, Ken Griffey Jr., Albert Pujols, and Mel Ott. Not bad company.
So now you've heard my Mount Rushmore candidates, who are yours?