#16 Darrell Evans
Darrell Evans is important to the 1980's Detroit Tigers for a couple of reasons. The front office at the time did not believe in the free agent market, and the 1980's teams were a core of guys drafted in the 1970's and developed by the organization. The only really big free agent acquisition on those teams was Darrell Evans who signed with the team following the 1983 season. His addition along with the Spring Training acquisition of Dave Bergman allowed the team the flexibility to trade 3B Howard Johnson to the New York Mets for Pitcher Walt Terrell. That was a big move to solidify the starting rotation, and the Tigers were fine at the infield corners with Evans, Bergman, and super utility guy Tom Brookens.
Evans best season in Detroit was arguably 1985 where he hit 40 home runs and drove in 94 runs. During the run to the 1987 Divisional title he hit 34 home runs and drove in 99 runs. He was a big bat in the middle of the Detroit order and a mainstay of the 1980's teams that really should have won at least one more World Series title.
My fondest memory of Evans is him standing on the stairs of the Detroit dugout as Larry Herndon made the final out of the 1984 World Series. Evans was one of the first players out of the dugout to celebrate the Tigers' championship in 16 years. More than that he was the big guy the guy I trusted as a kid to play adequate defense and get a big hit now and again. He always seemed to be to be the big silent type...of course that was before the days of big time talk radio and the Internet.
With all of that being said Evans is clearly not one of the Tigers' 1980s players who has been shunned by the Baseball Hall of Fame. The real problem with this team, in terms of Hall enshrinement is they had a lot of very good pieces. Sure, we can argue they had a few legit superstars...but for the most part those teams were built with pieces like Darrell Evans.
It taught me how sports teams should be built. A lesson further underscored by the 1980's Detroit Pistons and the 1990's Detroit Red Wings...those teams seemed more pure than the free agent laden rosters of the Dave Dombroski era...granted we are talking about two completely different era's of the sport we love but those 1980's squads were special.
My favorite Detroit Tigers