Tiger fans took out their frustrations on Bobby Higginson.Higginson joined the Tigers in 1995 and the Tigers never enjoyed a winning season. The team collapsed in 1994 and did not recover until 2006. Fans looked for a scapegoat and chose Higginson. Despite the lack of team success, Higginson enjoyed a successful Tiger career. The two-time Tiger of the Year provided power and above average defense for weak Tiger teams.
The Tigers drafted Temple University star Bobby Higginson in the 12th round of the 1992 draft. He joined the big club in 1995. In 131 games, he hit just .224, but showed some power potential with 14 home runs. He played for the legendary manager Sparky Anderson and alongside 1984 World Series heroes Lou Whitaker, Kirk Gibson, and Alan Trammell.
Tiger ownership let Anderson go after the 1995 season while Gibson and Whitaker retired. The Tigers got old overnight and had few quality young players to fill the void. Higginson proved the exception and enjoyed a breakout season in 1996. He hit .320 with 26 home runs, 81 RBI, and .982 OPS. Although Higgy had a solid season, Detroit lost 109 games.
The team rebounded nicely in 1997 and finished a couple games under .500. Higginson helped lead the turnaround with his first 100 RBI campaign. He hit .299 with 27 home runs, 101 RBI, and .899 OPS. On June 30, Higginson slammed three consecutive home runs in a single game. Then, he homered in his first at bat the following day. In total, Higginson hit four home runs in four consecutive at bats. For his efforts in 1997, he won his first Tiger of the Year award from the Detroit baseball writers.
The Tigers did not approach .500 again until 2000. Higginson had a solid 1998 season (.284, 25, 85, .835), but injuries limited his production in 1999. He rebounded from .239 in 1999 to slug .300. His homer production increased from 12 to 30 and RBI more than doubled from 46 to 102. Higginson also posted the second best OPS of his career at .915. He added career highs in runs (104), hits (179), doubles (44), and total bases (321). In fact, Higginson is one of 19 players to hit .300, score 100 runs, hit 30 home runs and 40 doubles, knock in 100 runs, and steal 15 bases in one season. Once again, Higgy won Tiger of the Year. To date, Higginson is one of ten Tigers to win the award on multiple occasions.
Higginson began a slow decline after 2000. His average and power began to diminish after age 30. Higginson hit .277, .282, .235, .246, and .077 in his final five seasons. The power numbers followed with 17, 10, 14, 12, and 0 home runs. Frustrated fans booed Higginson. The Tigers fielded a poor club and Higginson made a lot of money. However, baseball is a team game and there is only so much one player could do. It did not matter to fans as rumors swirled that Higginson gave up toward the end. Despite this, he purchased an ad in the local paper thanking the fans for their support over the years.
The Tigers were terrible during Bobby Higginson’s tenure. However, the lack of team success fell on management and not Higginson. The outfielder enjoyed a nice run for 11 seasons. Overall, he hit .272 with 187 home runs, 709 RBI, and .813 OPS. He won Tiger of the Year on two occasions, batted .300 twice, and drove in more than 100 runs in 1997 and 2000. He had a three-home run game and broke up a no-hitter with a pinch-hit home run off a rookie named Roy Halladay. Although he never won a Gold Glove, Higginson was a solid fielder leading the league twice in put outs and assists. Higginson was a solid player in his prime and he would have received more accolades had the Tigers been decent.