Had he not played for the Tigers, I wouldn’t give this much thought, but he did, so I do.
That’s because there’s been no other Tigers player in my lifetime that has left me wanting more than Sheff.
Sure it would’ve been nice to see something, anything from the likes of Edgar Renteria, Juan Gonzalez or Fernando Vina, but Gary Sheffield was a superstar at just about every stop in his career — and he was bringing his act to Detroit. This was a once-in-a-generation opportunity.
But a collision with Placido Polanco in July 2007 essentially ended what was shaping up to be a Sheff-like season: .265, 25 home runs and 75 RBI over 133 games. His OPS that season was a hefty (Shefty?) .819.
Alas, we were robbed of what could’ve been three of the most quote-rich years in club history.
In ’08, he appeared in 114 games and hit just .225 but still smacked 19 homers.
Sheffield finishes his career with 509 home runs, 1,676 RBIs and a .292 career batting average. He is 24th on the all-time home run list and 25th on the career RBIs list.
Sheffield will be eligible to be elected to the Hall of Fame after the 2014 season.
“I am sure it will be mentioned and debated but from my standpoint I know who is in the Hall of Fame,” Sheffield told the newspaper. “A lot of them don’t belong in the Hall of Fame. If someone wants to debate me, check the stats.”
If Sheff had three full, healthy seasons in Detroit, the stats would’ve been more impressive than they already are.
As it was, this quote from him after the ’07 injury pretty much sums up his Tigers career:
“I can’t be myself,” Sheffield said. “Guys throwing 88 miles per hour, and I can’t do nothing with it.”
Even though he was always one perceived slight from becoming a team’s bad seed, he
was an exceptional player — even though we only saw glimpses in Detroit.
I think Gary Sheffield’s a Hall of Famer. Do you?