Ivan Rodriguez, Top 100 Tigers
- Rank: 45
- Name: Ivan (Torres) Rodriguez
- Position: Catcher
- Tigers Tenure: 2004-2008
- Awards: Four-time All Star, Silver Slugger (2004), 10th in MVP Voting (2004), three-time Gold Glove winner
- Best Season: 2004 was Pudge’s last great great offensive season. Ever since then he has been below league average. In 2004 he hit .334 (OPS+ 136) and slugged 19 home runs. His 136 OPS+ mark was the second best of his career, trailing only his 2000 total in which he missed nearly half of the season. Pudge was a breath of fresh air to a team that lost 119 games the year before. In addition to his terrific season at the plate, Pudge was great as usual behind the plate. He won yet another Gold Glove and did a wonderful job working with the Tigers’ young pitching staff. His .334 average was good for fourth in the American League and was the second highest ever for a Tigers catcher.
- Good Stuff: Pudge helped make the Tigers relevant again. He joined a 119 loss team and started a snowball effect. Following the Pudge signing the Tigers were able lure in other free agents like Kenny Rogers and Magglio Ordonez. Pudge was good at the plate during his time with the Tigers but he was invaluable when you consider what he meant to the likes of Jeremy Bonderman and Justin Verlander. They were able to enter the league throwing to a future Hall of Famer. Not many young pitchers are given that kind of luxury. The bottom line though is that Pudge made it okay to sign with the Tigers as a free agent. I’m sure he was influenced greatly by the money he was offered, but he came and helped make the Tigers contenders again.
- Bad Stuff: Almost zero plate discipline. It as almost as if Pudge was made ill by taking a pitch or taking a walk. He gained notoriety in 2007 for his lack of walks. He became only the seventh player in MLB history -and the first since 1966- to walk fewer than ten times in a season with at least 500 at bats. It seems almost impossible. There were also rumors about Pudge’s demeanor in the clubhouse as his time in Detroit passed. There are rumors of fights, arguments and other things that just should not happen in a team atmosphere. Some say that he suggested his trade to the Yankees last summer.
- Place In Tigers History: The rumors and negative stories about Pudge will eventually be forgotten and all that will be left are his on-the-field contributions. He won’t go into the Hall of Fame as a Tiger but I’ll always think of him as a Tiger. I’m also grateful that he signed with the Tigers prior to the 2004 season. He made it a lot easier to follow the team.