Single-Season Tigers HR Leaders at Each Position

tigers hr leaders

Last Updated on October 4, 2023 by Matt Musico

If you’ve ever wondered which hitters are the single-season Tigers HR leaders at each position, then you’re in the right place. Outside of pitcher, each player had to man their position for at least 100 games (or 75% of their games played) for the season in question.

After you’re done checking this out, head over to the Tigers’ all-time and single-season home run leaderboards.

Want to see the Tigers slug dingers in person? Grab tickets from our friends at Vivid Seats. And before you get to the stadium, make sure you’re decked out in the right gear. Get official Tigers merch from the MLB Shop or a ‘Big Dinger Energy’ shirt from our apparel store.

Single-Season Tigers HR Leaders

Catcher: Rudy York, 1937: 35 Home Runs

If there’s anyone who knew how to burst onto the scene in the big leagues, it was Rudy York. He appeared in three games for the Tigers as a 20-year-old in 1934 but didn’t get another chance with Detroit until 1937. All he did with that opportunity was set the franchise record for most home runs by a catcher. He also collected 101 RBI and a 1.026 OPS in 417 plate appearances (104 games played).

He’d start his career with 11 consecutive years of at least 17 dingers. This period included six with 100-plus RBI, as well.

If we look at York’s splits, he went absolutely nuts in the second half of play. The backstop slugged seven homers prior to the All-Star Game, followed by 28 (!) after the midsummer classic. A lot of that had to do with playing 40 more games in the second half, but still, his month of August was otherworldly.

In 126 plate appearances, York slashed .363/.429/.920 with 18 homers, five doubles, two triples, and 50 RBI.

Pitcher: Earl Wilson, 1968: 7 Home Runs

Earl Wilson spent parts of five seasons with the Tigers, but just three full years from 1967-69. He was quite productive on the mound during that three-year span for Detroit, posting a 47-33 record with a 3.15 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 703 innings pitched. He also slugged 17 homers as a Tiger, finishing with four or more in a season three times.

The best of all was obviously his 1968 campaign. Wilson slashed .227/.253/.489 across 92 plate appearances. He collected 20 total hits, with eight going for extra bases (one double, seven homers). Despite finishing his career with a .195 batting average, his 35 total homers are among the most by a pitcher in MLB history. He may not have gotten many hits, but when he did, Wilson made them count.

First Base: Hank Greenberg, 1938: 58 Home Runs

Hank Greenberg‘s 58 homers aren’t just a record for Tigers first basemen. It’s one of the oldest franchise home run records still standing. And when we look at the most powerful seasons of all time, it’s still among the best. Those dingers led the league in ’38, as did Greenberg’s 143 runs scored and 119 walks.

Greenberg loved hitting at home (39 homers) and in the second half of the season (36 homers) during this campaign. After slugging just three dingers in April, he never finished a month with fewer than nine. This led to three double-digit homer performances, as well (10 in June, 15 in July, and 12 in September/October).

The first baseman accumulated 101 plate appearances while leading off an inning for Detroit. Things usually started off well, as he slashed .466/.535/.932 with 17 extra-base hits (11 homers, four doubles, two triples).

Related: Robert Fick and The Last Game at Tiger Stadium

Second Base: Lou Whitaker (1989) & Ian Kinsler (2016): 28 Home Runs

It took a little while for Lou Whitaker‘s power to emerge. But once it did, it was quite consistent. Through the first five years of his career, the second baseman slugged 12 total homers, with five in 1981 being his single-season career-high. From 1982-95, he failed to hit double-digit homers just once (nine in 1993).

This included four efforts of 20-plus homers, and 1989 was obviously the best of all. He enjoyed starting quickly, as eight of his homers came in the first inning. No other inning included more than four dingers from him.

The 28 homers Ian Kinsler hit in 2016 marked the first time he got over the 20-homer plateau since 2011. That’s when he slugged 32 for the Texas Rangers. The only time Kinsler hit fewer than four dingers in a month was in June (three).

He spent all but seven plate appearances in the leadoff spot. The second baseman led off eight games with a home run in ’16.

Shortstop: Alan Trammell, 1987: 28 Home Runs

Allan Trammell racked up just two seasons of 20-plus homers during his 20-year career in Detroit. They both came in consecutive campaigns, too. The 1987 season was the second occurrence, and Trammell nearly took home an MVP Award in the process.

He finished second behind George Bell after adding 105 RBI, 109 runs scored, and 205 hits to go along with a .343/.402/.551 triple slash.

Not many probably expected his homer production to end up where it did two months into the season, though. Trammell had slugged four homers through his first 38 games played. However, he proceeded to hit at least six dingers in a month three times (June, August, and September/October) to make it happen.

Third Base: Miguel Cabrera, 2012 & 2013: 44 Home Runs

One of the things I love about these two MVP performances from Miguel Cabrera is that he got to the same exact number in completely different ways.

In 2012, he slugged 28 of his home runs at Comerica Park, along with 26 after the All-Star break. If we look at his 2013 numbers, 27 of his dingers came on the road, while 30 of them happened in the first half. That’s baseball for ya.

Of the 12 months in question, Cabrera slugged at least seven homers nine times. The only times he didn’t? That’d be May 2012 (two in 132 plate appearances), April 2013 (four in 117 plate appearances), and September/October 2013 (one in 86 plate appearances).

Single-Season Tigers HR Leaders

Left Field: Rocky Colavito, 1961: 45 Home Runs

Rocky Colavito‘s power peak lasted for a five-year stretch between 1958 and 1962. He enjoyed a few other powerful seasons beyond this period, but this was the only time he strung together consecutive campaigns of 30-plus homers. And for this particular streak, Colavito slugged 40-plus three times.

The 45 dingers and 140 RBI he collected in ’61 were both career-high marks. After hitting four homers in 14 games to start his season, Colavito enjoyed four straight months of at least eight homers. He finished off this stretch with 10 in August.

The outfielder spent all but two of his 708 plate appearances in the cleanup spot. But still, Colavito led off an inning 167 times in 1961, a situation that led to 15 home runs. His homer production was also split down the middle between the bases being empty (22 dingers) and at least one runner on (23 homers).

Center Field: Curtis Granderson, 2009: 30 Home Runs

While the 2009 season was Curtis Granderson‘s worst in Detroit from the standpoint of OPS (.780), it was his best in terms of homer production. It was also the only time he was selected for the All-Star Game as a member of the Tigers.

All but two of his homers came against right-handed pitching. Grandy really struggled against southpaws during this particular season. In 199 plate appearances, he slashed .183/.245/.239 with six extra-base hits (four doubles, two homers). When looking at his home/road splits, his extra-base hit production was quite even…except for the number of homers he hit.

Granderson collected 11 doubles and four triples at home, as well as 12 doubles and four triples on the road. But, only 10 balls left the yard for him at Comerica, compared to 20 as a visiting player. When looking at different in-game situations, Grandy was at his best in batting average (.258), on-base percentage (.344), slugging percentage (.510), and homers (18) when the score was tied.

Right Field: J.D. Martinez, 2015: 38 Home Runs

J.D. Martinez‘s swing makeover was already complete and paying dividends prior to 2015. This campaign just took things to another level, though. This performance included his first All-Star Game selection and Silver Slugger Award, as well as a 15th-place finish in AL MVP voting.

The outfielder never slugged more than six homers in any particular inning in ’15, but the middle portion of games was definitely his favorite. He hit 16 total homers from innings 4-6, including at least four in each frame. Martinez was already having a strong year through the season’s first two months, but things got supercharged between June and August.

During this three-month span, he improved his season-long OPS from .801 to .909 while slugging 25 homers with 65 RBI.

Designated Hitter: Victor Martinez, 2014: 32 Home Runs

Victor Martinez is the proud owner of two single-season franchise records at different positions. In addition to this one, he owns a share of the Cleveland Guardians’ single-season catcher home run record.

He was still productive in his final MLB seasons, but 2014 was truly the final elite performance of his career. Those 32 homers were joined by 103 RBI and a .335/.409/.565 triple slash. He earned his fifth and final All-Star Game selection, as well as his second and final Silver Slugger Award. V-Mart also finished second in AL MVP voting, although it was a distant second to some guy named Mike Trout.

Martinez was much more of an extra-base hit threat in Tigers wins (.656 slugging percentage) than losses (.453 slugging percentage). However, he posted at least a .300 batting average in both situations. He also relished stepping up to the plate with men on base. In that situation, Martinez slashed .343/.438/.587 with 15 homers, 17 doubles, and 86 RBI.


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