From 1994 to 2005, the Tigers failed to have a winning record, including 2003’s dreadful 43-119 record. In 2006, new GM Dave Dombrowski hired a former manager of his for his 1997 Florida Marlins, Jim Leyland. Leyland led the Tigers to the World Series in 2006, but they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals.
C: Iván Rodriguez–“Pudge” Rodriguez spent five seasons from 2004-2008 with the Tigers and was an integral part of the Tigers’ pennant-winning ball club in ’06. Throughout the span of his career, Rodriguez was a 14x All-Star, 13x Gold Glover, 7x Silver Slugger, and the 1999 AL MVP. Considered one of the best catchers in history, Rodriguez will appear on his first ballot for the chance at being inducted into the Hall of Fame Class of 2017.
1B: Sean Casey–The Tigers didn’t have many long-lasting or memorable first baseman for most of the 2000s until they traded for future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera in 2008. However, Cabrera only played two seasons in the 2000-2009 decade, so there is a better option for this Tigers All-2000s star squad: Sean Casey. Casey also played only two seasons for the Detroit Tigers in 2006 and 2007, but he was in Detroit when the Tigers reached the World Series. Casey was a 3x All-Star and spent the majority of his career with the Cincinnati Reds. After 2007, Casey spent one final year in Boston before retiring.
2B: Plácido Polanco–A fan favorite, Polanco spent five years in Motown, from 2005 to 2009. He was a 2x All-Star, 3x Gold Glove, and 2007 Silver Slugger. In the Tigers’ 2006 ALCS, Polanco was named the ALCS MVP. Fans will remember when Magglio Ordoñez would hit the series-winning home run, Polanco was bouncing around on the bases screaming in joy. Polanco’s second Gold Glove with the Tigers in 2009 would remain the most recent Gold Glove for a Tigers player until 2015 when Yoenis Céspedes would win it for left field.
3B: Brandon Inge–Spending the first twelve years of his career in Detroit, Brandon Inge definitely had his moments. His best year came in 2009 and he was elected to the All-Star team through the Final Vote along with three of his teammates. Inge also participated in the 2009 Home Run Derby after smashing 21 dingers in the first half and became one of very few to hit 0 home runs in Derby. He finished his career with one-year stints with the Athletics and later the Pirates in 2013.
SS: Carlos Guillén–After spending the first six years of his career in Seattle, Guillén spent the next eight in Detroit from 2004 to 2011. Guillén, a 3x All-Star, hit for the cycle on August 1, 2006, becoming the tenth Tiger to do so. Although beginning his career as a shorstop, Guillén bounced all over the infield and outfield throughout his Tigers career. In a moment Tigers fan will remember from 2011, when Jered Weaver of the Angels and Justin Verlander of the Tigers were having a pitchers’ duel, Guillén extended the Tigers lead, after Ordoñez had hit a HR earlier, with a home run of his own and flipped his bat and maintained a staredown with Weaver.
LF: Craig Monroe–Spending six years in Detroit, Monroe led the 2006 Tigers squad with 28 home runs and 92 RBIs. He also added six bombs in the postseason for Detroit. After 2007, Monroe spent the next 3 seasons with 3 different ball clubs before retiring. Craig Monroe is currently a studio analyst for Fox Sports Detroit for the Tigers.
CF: Curtis Granderson–One of the most beloved Tigers in this decade, Granderson was drafted by the Tigers in 2004 and spent the first six years in the Motor City. He is a 3x All-Star and a 2011 Silver Slugger. In the 2009 offseason, the Tigers, Yankees, and Dbacks engaged in a three-team blockbuster that sent Curtis to the Bronx, future Cy Young winner Max Scherzer and CF Austin Jackson to Detroit, and starters Ian Kennedy and Edwin Jackson to Arizona. Granderson four years with the Yankees before joining the cross-town rival New York Mets in 2014.
RF: Magglio Ordoñez–Ordoñez was a 6x All-Star, 3x Silver Slugger, and the 2007 batting champion between the White Sox and Tigers in his 15-year career. His 2007 year was especially remarkable and was considered one of the best seasons for a Tiger in a long time until Miguel Cabrera. He hit his 2000th hit in April of 2010. After retiring, Ordoñez entered politics and is the mayor of his hometown city in Venezuela. One of his most famous moments was his series-winning walk-off home run in the ninth inning in the 2006 ALCS, propelling the Tigers to the Fall Classic.
DH: Dmitri Young–Young, who spent five years in Detroit, was a 2x All-Star. He couldn’t finish his last season, 2006, with the Tigers because Detroit elected to release the former All-Star due to alcohol and drug addiction. He remains one of the only two players (along with Miguel Cabrera) to hit 3 home runs in a single game at Comerica Park, accomplishing this feat in 2005.
SP 1: Justin Verlander–Verlander, who is the last Tiger still on the roster from the 2006 AL pennant team, is entering his 12th season in the majors, all with the Tigers. He broke out onto the scene in 2006 and won the AL Rookie of the Year award. In 2007, he threw his first no-hitter against the Brewers. In 2009, he finished with a 19-9 record and had a MLB-leading 265 strikeouts, placing him third in the Cy Young voting. He would go on to achieve even more success in the 2010s, as we’ll soon discuss in the Tiger All-Decade Team: 2010s.
SP 2: Kenny Rogers–Rogers, only spending the final three seasons of his career as a Tiger, was a 4x All-Star and 5x Gold Glove award in his career. When Rogers was pitching for the Tigers at the age of 40 in 2005, he went 17-8 to lead a young staff. He was the staff ace during the 2006 postseason and threw 23 shutout innings.
SP 3: Jeremy Bonderman–Bonderman spent parts of all eight seasons of his career with Detroit, minus a brief stint with Seattle in 2013. Bonderman was the Tigers’ Opening Day starter come 2005 in his 3rd season in the majors. He contributed to the Tigers’ 2006 team by going 14-8. His career quickly tailed off due to injuries, and he failed to reach the Midsummer Classic in his career. He did place second in the Final Vote for the ’07 All-Star Game.
RP: Joel Zumaya–Zumaya spent all five seasons of his career in Detroit before his career ended due to injuries. While healthy, Zumaya was a flamethrower. His fastest pitch was over 104 mph and was the fastest pitch ever thrown at the time. His best season came in 2006, but unfortunately he was never the same thrower again.
RP: Fernando Rodney–Rodney was drafted by the Tigers and spent the first seven years of his career there. He currently plays for the San Diego Padres. He’s been a 2x All-Star, Delivery Man of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, and the AL saves leader in 2014. After Detroit, he’s spent the next six years with four different ball clubs.
RP: Todd Jones–Jones spent 1997-2001 with Detroit and later finished his career from 2006-2008 with Detroit. He remains the Tigers’ all-team leader in saves, and he was the 21st member of the 300 save club. His best year came in 2000 with the Tigers when he led the AL in saves and was awarded a spot on the All-Star team, his lone appearance, and the AL Rolaids Relief Man of the Year (the award’s name has since been changed to the Mariano Rivera Relief Man of the Year).
The Tigers definitely had some All-Stars in the 2000s and ended a long World Series appearance drought, though they failed to win it. Justin Verlander is the only player on this All-Decade team to remain a Tiger to this day. Others have retired or moved on to other teams.