The Tigers stole Damion Easley from California. He joined the Tigers in 1996 and played seven years in Detroit. Unfortunately, Easley played for a putrid team that never finished .500 or above. However, second base was not the problem. Easley made the All Star team, drove in 100 runs, hit for power, and played good defense for bad Tiger teams.
Damion Easley joined California in 1992 at age 22 and played five seasons with the Angels. They traded him to Detroit for Greg Gohr in 1996. Gohr appeared in 15 games for the Angels and never played in the majors after 1996. Meanwhile, Easley played another dozen seasons and made an All Star Game.
Easley replaced popular Lou Whitaker at second. Whitaker retired after the 1995 season and the Tigers searched for a new second baseman. After the trade, Easley batted .343 in 21 games . In 1997, he claimed his position helping people forget Lou Whitaker. For the year, Easley hit .264 with 22 home runs, 72 RBI, and a career best .833 OPS.
The Tiger improved in 1998 and earned his only All Star berth. Easley set career bests in average (.271), home runs (27), RBI (100), hits (161), doubles (38), total bases (284),and slugging (.478). His OPS “dropped” to .810. As a result, he won his only Silver Slugger Award. On top of this, the infielder led the league in assists and putouts by a second baseman.
Easley continued to thrive in Detroit until 2002. In 1999, he hit .266 with 20 home runs and 65 RBI. The following campaign, the Tigers moved to Comerica Park and the second baseman batted .259 with 14 home runs and 58 RBI. The ballpark intimidated many players because of its deep dimensions. The home run drop off might be a result of Comerica Park, but also might have been natural. In 2001, Easley dropped to .250 with 11 home runs and 65 RBI. He also hit for the cycle and had a five-hit game.
The Tigers became a terrible team before Easley joined the club. The franchise won 85 games and finished third in 1993. They did not post another winning season until 2006. They lost over 100 games twice during Easley’s time. The Tigers lost 90 games on three other occasions. Detroit finished 55-106 in 2002 and Easley appeared in only 85 games hitting .224. The Tigers released him in March 2003 and the infielder played six more seasons with four clubs. He hit .253 for his career with 163 home runs and 684 RBI. With Detroit, Easley batted .260 with 104 home runs, 400 RBI, and a respectable .767 OPS.
Damion Easley was a nice player with the Tigers. He was not as flashy as his predecessor, but he did his job. Easley fielded his position and hit for power. Unfortunately, he had the misfortune of playing during the worst stretch in Tiger history.