Tigers put up '68, '84 clubs in Dream Bracket 2

May 20th, 2020

DETROIT -- Tigers fans have argued for decades that the 1984 World Series champions deserve more respect as one of the greatest teams of all time. The '68 club won 103 games and dominated its league like few others. Now is a good time to put those two clubs up against history.

After the success of the MLB Dream Bracket, which pitted each franchise’s all-time roster against each other in a 32-team tournament, Major League Baseball and Out of the Park Baseball 21 have paired up again. This time, it’s MLB Dream Bracket 2: Dream Seasons, putting the two greatest single-season squads from each franchise in a 64-team tournament that includes three Negro Leagues teams and the 1994 Montreal Expos.

Each matchup is a best-of-seven series. The tournament begins with first-round series Thursday and Friday. Select matchups will be streamed live on MLB.com, with MLB Network’s Jon Paul Morosi on the call alongside Scott Braun.

1968 Tigers
The 1968 Tigers have a generational matchup ahead with the '96 Rangers, pitting the champions from the Year of the Pitcher against a deep slugging team from the home run era. While 31-game winner and American League MVP Award winner Denny McLain gives the Tigers a clear pitching edge, we’ll see if Mickey Lolich can approach his historic performance from the '68 World Series, when he tossed three complete-game wins and allowed just five total runs.

Keep an eye, too, on Willie Horton, who powered Detroit’s offense with 36 home runs and 85 RBIs in 1968. Bill Freehan and Norm Cash each added 25-homer seasons. Al Kaline missed a good chunk of the season with a fractured hand, but he proved clutch in October. Unlike in the '68 World Series, the Tigers will have the designated-hitter slot, so don’t look for Mickey Stanley to move from center field to shortstop.

1984 Tigers
The 1984 Tigers became famous for their 35-5 start, including a Jack Morris no-hitter, but they’ll be put to a test to win a best-of-seven series against the '88 Oakland A’s in a pairing of two of the most formidable clubs of their decade. Manager Sparky Anderson leveraged Morris’ clutch performances with a dominant bullpen that included AL MVP Award winner Willie Hernandez and Aurelio Lopez, who combined for 19 wins, 46 saves and 206 strikeouts. Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker were in their prime as the greatest double-play duo in modern baseball history. Trammell went on to win the World Series MVP Award that year with a 9-for-20 performance that included two home runs in Game 4 against the Padres.

The Tigers’ 104 wins in 1984 included nine against Oakland, but that A’s club didn’t have Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Dave Stewart or Dennis Eckersley. Likewise, the Tigers had lost Lance Parrish and Kirk Gibson to free agency by '88, when the A’s won eight of 12 against them.