1979 Detroit Tigers season

1979 Detroit Tigers
Major League affiliations
Other information
Owner(s) John Fetzer
General manager(s) Jim Campbell
Manager(s) Les Moss, Dick Tracewski, Sparky Anderson
Local television WDIV-TV
(George Kell, Mike Barry, Al Kaline)
Local radio WJR
(Ernie Harwell, Paul Carey)
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The 1979 Detroit Tigers finished in fifth place in the American League East with a record of 85-76, 18 games behind the Orioles. They outscored their opponents 770 to 738. The Tigers drew 1,630,929 fans to Tiger Stadium in 1979, ranking 7th of the 14 teams in the American League. This season is most notable for both the Tigers' involvement in the infamous Disco Demolition Night, of which they were the visiting team to the Chicago White Sox and declared winners by forfeit, as well as for their mid-season hiring of Sparky Anderson as manager. Anderson would manage the Tigers through the end of the 1995 season.


  • March 20, 1979: Steve Dillard was traded by the Tigers to the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later. The Cubs completed the deal by sending Ed Putman to the Tigers on March 24.[1]

Regular season

Season standings

AL East W L Pct. GB Home Road
Baltimore Orioles 10257 0.642 55–24 47–33
Milwaukee Brewers 9566 0.590 8 52–29 43–37
Boston Red Sox 9169 0.569 11½ 51–29 40–40
New York Yankees 8971 0.556 13½ 51–30 38–41
Detroit Tigers 8576 0.528 18 46–34 39–42
Cleveland Indians 8180 0.503 22 47–34 34–46
Toronto Blue Jays 53109 0.327 50½ 32–49 21–60

Record vs. opponents

1979 American League Records

Baltimore 8–59–38–38–57–66–68–58–45–68–410–26–611–2
Boston 5–85–75–66–78–58–48–49–35–89–38–46–69–4
California 3–97–59–46–64–87–67–59–47–510–37–65–87–5
Chicago 3–86–54–96–63–95–85–75–84–89–45–811–27–5
Cleveland 5–87–66–66–66–66–64–98–45–88–47–55–78–5
Detroit 6–75–88–49–36–65–76–74–87–67–57–56–69–4
Kansas City 6–64–86–78–56–67–55–77–65–79–47–66–79–3
Milwaukee 5–84–85–77–59–47–67–58–49–46–69–39–310–3
Minnesota 4–83–94–98–54–88–46–74–87–59–410–34–911–1
New York 6–58–55–78–48–56–77–54–95–79–36–68–49–4
Oakland 4–83–93–104–94–85–74–96–64–93–98–52–114–8
Seattle 2–104–86–78–55–75–76–73–93–106–65–86–78–4
Texas 6–66–68–52–117–56–67–63–99–44–811–27–67–5
Toronto 2–114–95–75–75–84–93–93–101–114–98–44–85–7

Notable transactions


1979 Detroit Tigers
Pitchers Catchers



Other batters



Player stats


Starters by position

Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Pos Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
CLance Parrish143493136.2761965
1BJason Thompson145492121.2462079
2BLou Whitaker127423121.286342
3BAurelio Rodríguez10634387.254536
SSAlan Trammell142460127.276650
LFSteve Kemp134490156.31826105
RFJerry Morales12944093.2111456
CFRon LeFlore148600180.300957
DHRusty Staub6824658.236940

Other batters

Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
Champ Summers9024677.3132051
John Wockenfuss8723161.2641546
Lynn Jones9521363.296426
Tom Brookens6019050.263421
Mark Wagner7514640.274113
Phil Mankowski429922.22208
Ed Putman21399.23124
Kirk Gibson12389.23714
Tim Corcoran18225.22706
Rick Peters10195.26302


Starting pitchers

Note: G = Games; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Milt Wilcox33196.112104.35109
Jack Morris27197.21773.28113
Dave Rozema1697.1443.5133
Dan Petry1598653.9543
Bruce Robbins1046333.9122
Mark Fidrych414.20310.435

Other pitchers

Note: G = Games; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Jack Billingham351581073.3059
Pat Underwood27121.2644.5983
Steve Baker2184176.6454
Mike Chris1339336.9231

Relief pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; W = Wins; L= Losses; SV = Saves; GF = Games finished; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Aurelio López6110521492.41106
John Hiller43479305.2246
Dave Tobik37353194.3348
Sheldon Burnside1011026.3313
Bruce Taylor1012084.828
Fernando Arroyo611038.257

Awards and honors

  • Steve Kemp, Tiger of the Year Award, from Detroit baseball writers


League top ten finishes

Steve Kemp

  • #4 in AL in OPS (.939)
  • #8 in AL in batting average (.318)

Ron LeFlore

  • #2 in MLB in stolen bases (78)
  • #3 in AL in singles (139)
  • #4 in AL in times caught stealing (14)
  • #5 in AL in triples (10)
  • #7 in AL in runs scored (110)

Aurelio López

  • #3 in AL in saves (21)
  • #5 in AL in games finished (49)

Jack Morris

  • #4 in AL in Adjusted ERA+ (133)
  • #5 in AL in ERA (3.28)
  • #5 in AL in wins (17)
  • #5 in AL win percentage (.708)
  • #4 in AL in hits allowed per 9 innings (8.15)

Bruce Robbins

  • 3rd youngest player in the AL

Alan Trammell

  • #4 in AL in times caught stealing (14)

Milt Wilcox

  • #2 in MLB in hit batsmen (11)

Players ranking among top 100 all time at position

The following members of the 1979 Detroit Tigers are among the Top 100 of all time at their position, as ranked by The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract in 2001:

  • Lance Parrish: 19th best catcher of all time (played 12 games as a rookie)
  • Lou Whitaker: 13th best second baseman of all time (played 11 games as a rookie)
  • Alan Trammell: 9th best shortstop of all time (played 19 games as a rookie)
  • Aurelio Rodríguez: 91st best third baseman of all time
  • Ron LeFlore: 80th best center fielder of all time

Farm system

Level Team League Manager
AAA Evansville Triplets American Association Jim Leyland
AA Montgomery Rebels Southern League Dennis Sommers
A Lakeland Tigers Florida State League Fred Hatfield
Rookie Bristol Tigers Appalachian League Joe Lewis



  1. Ed Putman at Baseball-Reference
  2. Champ Summers at Baseball-Reference
  3. Rick Leach at Baseball-Reference
  4. Rusty Staub at Baseball-Reference


  • Johnson, Lloyd; Wolff, Miles, eds. (1997). The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball (2nd ed.). Durham, North Carolina: Baseball America. ISBN 978-0-9637189-8-3. 
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