Sam Crawford joined the Tigers in 1903 after jumping from the National League. The addition of Ty Cobb resulted in the best one-two offensive punch of the era. Crawford remained a Tiger until he retired following the 1917 season with 1911 being his best all around season. In 1911, Crawford finished in the top five in eight major offensive categories while setting career highs.
During his Tiger career, Crawford ranked amongst the league leaders in many offensive categories and helped lead Detroit to three pennants. In 1911, “Wahoo Sam” set career highs in many offensive categories. That season, he scored 109 runs, had 217 hits, slapped 36 doubles, stole 37 bases, had a .438 OBP, .526 slugging, and a .964 OPS. He also hit a career high .378 and 302 total bases. On top of the career highs, he added 14 triples, seven home runs, and drove in 115.
The outfielder’s offensive heroics appeared on the league leader boards. He finished third in the batting race, hits, and OPS. Only Ty Cobb drove in more runs while Cobb and Shoeless Joe Jackson had more singles. On top of this, Crawford was fourth in OBP and total bases and fifth in slugging and runs scored. His 36 doubles placed him seventh.
Crawford and Cobb partnered to help the Tigers to 89 wins. The team enjoyed decent pitching to go along with the offensive firepower. Unfortunately for the Tigers, the Philadelphia Athletics continued an impressive run and won their second consecutive pennant with 101 wins. The A’s went on to win four pennants in five years while the Tiger pitching faded with age.
Although the pitching wilted, Crawford remained a force for four more seasons. Over that period, he led the league in triples three consecutive years, total bases in 1913, and RBI in 1914 and 1915. He did not hit below .299 for the period. In 1916, the Tigers began to transition Crawford out. He finished his major league career in 1917 as baseball’s all time leader in triples with 309. The Tiger great scored 1391 runs, had 458 doubles, knocked in 1525 runs, and hit .309. Officially, he is credited with 2961 hits, but did continue in the Pacific Coast League. He also played in the Western League in 1899. However, the PCL and Western League statistics do not count toward Crawford’s career totals. Interestingly, the Western League numbers were originally supposed to count since the organization became the American League.
Sam Crawford enjoyed a Hall of Fame career. Some measures list him as a top 10 player. The outfielder put together a career season in 1911. His performance led to his appearance all over the leader boards and helped Detroit to second place. In the end, 1911 was a magical year for “Wahoo Sam” Crawford.