2003 Detroit Tigers season

2003 Detroit Tigers
Major League affiliations
Record 43–119 (.265)
Divisional place 5th
Other information
Owner(s) Mike Ilitch
General manager(s) Dave Dombrowski
Manager(s) Alan Trammell
Local television WKBD
(Frank Beckmann, Jack Morris)
FSN Detroit
(Mario Impemba, Rod Allen)
Local radio WXYT (AM)
(Jim Price, Dan Dickerson)
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The 2003 Detroit Tigers lost more games than any other team in American League history and came within one loss of tying the 1962 New York Mets for the most losses in modern major league history.

The team's 43-119 record broke the Philadelphia Athletics' 1916 American League record of 117 losses. They were outscored by 337 runs over the course of the season (928 to 591) and finished 47 games behind the Minnesota Twins. Blame for the dismal season was shared by both the pitching staff, which had an ERA of 5.30, and the batters, who finished with a team batting average of .240—19 points below the American League's .259 batting average. The season was the Tigers' 103rd since they entered the AL in 1901.

Season overview

The 2003 Tigers seemed like a sure bet to break the 1962 Mets' record for most losses when they stood at 38-118 after 156 games, but they won five of their last six, including each of their last 3, to avoid ignominy. The final series of the season was against the division champion Minnesota Twins. The Twins sat their starters for almost all of the series in order to keep players rested for the playoffs.[1] On September 27, in their next-to-last game, the Tigers came back from an 8-0 deficit to beat the Twins 9-8.[2] Then the Tigers won the season finale to avoid tying the record and received a standing ovation from the crowd.

Mike Maroth went 9-21 for the 2003 Tigers and became the first pitcher to lose 20 games in more than 20 years.[3] Tigers' pitchers Maroth, Jeremy Bonderman (6-19), and Nate Cornejo (6-17) were #1, #2, and #3 in the major leagues in losses for 2003—the only time in major league history that one team has had the top three losers.

While the 2003 Tigers rank as the third worst team in major league history based on loss total (behind the 1899 Cleveland Spiders and 1962 Mets), they fare slightly better based on winning percentage. As shown in the chart below, the 2003 Tigers rank only as the 9th worst team in history based on winning percentage.

1899Cleveland SpidersNL20134.130
1890Pittsburgh AlleghenysNL23113.169
1916Philadelphia AthleticsAL36117.235
1935Boston BravesNL38115.248
1962New York MetsNL40120.250
1904Washington SenatorsAL38113.252
1898St. Louis BrownsNL39111.260
1919Philadelphia AthleticsAL36104.257
2003Detroit TigersAL43119.265

Unlike the 2003 Tigers, most of the other teams usually described as the worst of all time were plagued by significant off-field troubles. The 1899 Spiders and 1916 A's had essentially been reduced to minor-league status after unloading their best players. The 1890 Alleghenys had also been reduced to minor-league status after practically their entire roster bolted to the Players' League. The 1935 Braves were plagued by underfinanced ownership that didn't even finish out the season. The 1962 Mets were a first-year expansion team. For this reason, the 2003 Tigers have been described as possibly "the worst team of all time without a good excuse."[4][5]

Designated hitter/left fielder Dmitri Young was the one member of the 2003 Tigers to have a truly good year, with a .297 batting average, 29 home runs, and .537 slugging percentage. According to Win Shares, the Tigers would have had about six fewer wins without him.[4]

On the pitching staff, Jamie Walker stands out as the one pitcher who had a good season. Walker appeared in 78 games (2nd most in the AL) and had an ERA of 3.32 (Adjusted ERA+ of 130).

Some blamed first-year manager Alan Trammell for the performance of the 2003 Tigers. However, the 2002 team was 55-106 under manager Luis Pujols and In short, Trammell inherited a team in shambles. The Tigers did not sign any significant new talent in 2003 and lost several key players from the 2002 team, including the team's best starter, Jeff Weaver, closer Juan Acevedo, second baseman Damion Easley, right fielder Robert Fick, and designated hitter Randall Simon. Dean Palmer, who had 275 career home runs, tried to resuscitate an injury-plagued career, and could not succeed at that; his career came to an end. Even with fellow 1984 teammates Kirk Gibson and Lance Parrish on the coaching staff, Trammell could not turn the team around in 2003.

After the 2003 season, the Tigers acquired Iván Rodríguez, Carlos Guillén, Ugueth Urbina, and Rondell White. With the infusion of new talent, Trammell was able to lead the start of the franchise's turnaround, as the team improved to 72-90 in 2004, a 29-game improvement over the 2003 season which was the largest single-season improvement in the American League since Baltimore's 33-game improvement from 1988 to 1989.

Three years after losing 119 games, the Tigers went 95-67 and made it to the 2006 World Series. The 2006 pennant winners featured 10 players from the 2003 team: Brandon Inge, Ramón Santiago (who spent 2004 and 2005 with the Seattle Mariners), Craig Monroe, Omar Infante, Mike Maroth, Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson, Jamie Walker, Wilfredo Ledezma, and Fernando Rodney. (Dmitri Young was released in September 2006 following off-field issues)

Season standings

AL Central W L Pct. GB Home Road
Minnesota Twins 9072 0.556 48–33 42–39
Chicago White Sox 8676 0.531 4 51–30 35–46
Kansas City Royals 8379 0.512 7 40–40 43–39
Cleveland Indians 6894 0.420 22 38–43 30–51
Detroit Tigers 43119 0.265 47 23–58 20–61

Record vs. opponents

2003 American League Records

Anaheim 1–83–63–46–36–16–35–43–68–128–116–39–102–711–7
Baltimore 8–19–102–43–33–33–43–46–13–12–74–58–117–28–115–13
Boston 6–310–95–44–28–15–12–49–103–45–212–75–410–911–7
Chicago 4–34–24–511–811–811–89–104–24–52–73–33–46–310–8
Cleveland 3–63–32–48–1112–76–139–102–53–63–65–24–52–46–12
Detroit 1–63–31–88–117–125–144–151–53–61–82–41–62–74–14
Kansas City 3–64–31–58–1113–614–511–82–42–74–54–37–21–59–9
Minnesota 4–54–34–210–910–915–48–110–78–13–66–05–43–310–8
New York 6–313–6–110–92–45–25–14–27–03–65–414–54–510–913–5
Oakland 12–87–24–35–46–36–37–21–86–37–126–315–45–29–9
Seattle 11–85–42–57–26–38–15–46–34–512–74–510–103–410–8
Tampa Bay 3–611–87–123–32–54–23–40–65–143–65–43–611–83–15
Texas 10–92–74–54–35–46–12–74–55–44–1510–106–35–44–14
Toronto 7–211–89–103–64–27–25–13–39–102–54–38–114–510–8


2003 Detroit Tigers
Pitchers Catchers



Other batters




  • November 25, 2002: Randall Simon was traded by the Detroit Tigers to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a player to be named later and Adrian Burnside (minors). The Pittsburgh Pirates sent Roberto Novoa (December 16, 2002) to the Detroit Tigers to complete the trade.[6]
  • November 29, 2002: Ernie Young was signed as a Free Agent with the Detroit Tigers.[7]
  • January 20, 2003: Bill Haselman was signed as a Free Agent with the Detroit Tigers.[8]
  • January 23, 2003: Steve Avery was signed as a Free Agent with the Detroit Tigers.[9]
  • March 27, 2003: Bill Haselman was released by the Detroit Tigers.[8]
  • March 29, 2003: AJ Hinch was purchased by the Detroit Tigers from the Cleveland Indians.[10]

Game Log

2003 Game Log: 43–119 (Home: 23–58; Away: 20–61)

Detailed Records

Player stats


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
Brandon Inge10433067.203830
Carlos Peña131452112.2481850
Warren Morris9734694.272637
Eric Munson9931375.2401850
Ramón Santiago141444100.225229
Craig Monroe128425102.2402370
Alex Sánchez101394114.289122
Bobby Higginson130469110.2351452
Dmitri Young155562167.2972985
Shane Halter11436078.2171230
Kevin Witt9327071.2631026
Omar Infante6922149.22208
Andrés Torres5916837.22019
Matt Walbeck5913824.17416

Note: pitchers' batting statistics not included

Starting pitchers

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

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Mike Maroth33193.39215.7387
Nate Cornejo32194.76174.6746
Jeremy Bonderman331626195.56108
Gary Knotts2095.3386.0451
Adam Bernero18100.71126.0854
Nate Robertson844.7125.4433

Relief pitchers

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

Matt Roney45190125.4547
Steve Sparks42062244.7249
Wilfredo Ledezma3437085.7949
Chris Spurling66133184.6838
Jamie Walker78433193.3245
Fernando Rodney27133116.0733
Franklyn Germán45245156.0441

League Leaders and Awards

Worst seasons in Detroit Tigers history

Worst Seasons in Detroit Tigers History
RankYearWinsLossesWin %
1 2003 43 119 .265
2 1952 50 104 .325
3 1996 53 109 .327
4 2002 55 106 .342
5 1975 57 102 .358

Farm system

Level Team League Manager
AAA Toledo Mud Hens International League Larry Parrish
AA Erie SeaWolves Eastern League Kevin Bradshaw
A Lakeland Tigers Florida State League Gary Green
A West Michigan Whitecaps Midwest League Phil Regan
A-Short Season Oneonta Tigers New York–Penn League Randy Ready
Rookie GCL Tigers Gulf Coast League Howard Bushong


See also


  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/29/sports/baseball-the-tigers-are-happy-to-avoid-making-history.html
  2. "Sep 27, 2003, Twins at Tigers Play by Play and Box Score". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved September 26, 2008.
  3. "Pitchers With 20 or More Losses in a Season". Baseball-Reference.com. Archived from the original on October 14, 2008. Retrieved September 26, 2008.
  4. 1 2 "2003 Detroit Tigers Baseball Graphs Review". BaseballGraphs.com. Retrieved September 26, 2008.
  5. "The worst teams in NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL history". ESPN.com. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  6. Randall Simon Statistics Baseball-Reference.com
  7. https://www.baseball-reference.com/y/younger02.shtml
  8. 1 2 https://www.baseball-reference.com/h/haselbi01.shtml
  9. Steve Avery Statistics Baseball-Reference.com
  10. https://www.baseball-reference.com/h/hincha.01.shtml
  11. Johnson, Lloyd, and Wolff, Miles, ed., The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, 3rd edition. Durham, North Carolina: Baseball America, 2007
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