Detroit Tigers: 2015 postseason awards
Sep 29, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Detroit Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez (28) reacts after hitting a two-run home run during the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
While in the midst of the 2015 MLB Postseason, it’s important to look back at the regular season. Detroit Tiger fans endured a frustrating regular season, as did the team itself.
With all of this in mind, I’m going back through my mental recesses of the 2015 season and handing out some not-so-valuable awards.
Most Valuable Player
This one is simple. J.D. Martinez.
As we all expected, Martinez shattered last year’s stats and earned an American League All-Star spot. Martinez had 168 hits, clubbed 38 home runs, drove in 102 runs and held a .282 batting average.
Sabermetrically, Martinez had a WAR of five — the highest on the team — just above Miguel Cabrera (4.3).
In the field, Martinez was also stellar, committing only two errors all year, good for a .993 fielding percentage.
Martinez was released by the Houston Astros in 2014 and the Detroit Tigers pounced on the opportunity, signing him to a minor league deal. After 17 games with the Toledo Mud Hens, Martinez was brought up, forever changing his career.
Martinez was signed through this season and is arbitration eligible and will garner a huge raise — which is much deserved.
Pitcher of the Year
I’m going with a co-award here.
I’m picking Justin Verlander and Alex Wilson. If Verlander had pitched the whole season, then sure, he would probably get the award alone. Not a lot could be said about the Detroit Tiger pitching staff, but both Verlander and Wilson were the two bright spots — in my eyes — on the staff this season.
As the world knows, Verlander spent two months on the disabled list with a triceps issue. But when Verlander came back to start 15 games in the second half, fans were treated with the JV of old. Verlander averaged 8.3 strikeouts per nine innings, a 2.80 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and just shy of seven innings per start — 14 of which were considered to be quality.
Wilson, a piece of the Rick Porcello trade from the Boston Red Sox, proved to be a big surprise. Coming out of the bullpen in 59 games, Wilson held a 2.19 ERA, with 38 strikeouts in 70 innings pitched. Wilson — easily the Tigers’ most consistent reliever – finished with a 1.7 WAR, and surely earned more than just an invite to Spring Training in 2016.
Comeback Player of the Year
Come on down, Justin Verlander.
Look at the aforementioned stats and it’s easy to see that Verlander earned this award. But, what the stats do not show is the way Verlander emerged above the detractors that felt that the veteran starter could not return back to form — 2012 and prior.
Verlander’s velocity returned to form as the season wore on, as Verlander got as high as 99.1 MPH, according to Pitch F/X. What did this accomplish?
His secondary pitches — slider, curveball, changeup — simply had more bite and deception. He looked dominant and became dominant once again. It’s nice to imagine what a full offseason of workouts — instead of rehab will do for JV and the Detroit Tigers.
Rookie of the Year
The rookie took over the post behind the plate in late May once veteran Alex Avila went down with a knee injury. McCann has a howitzer for an arm — and not lacking accuracy — makes it tough for opponents to steal bases. McCann caught 44 percent of runners stealing this year — ranking fourth in the majors.
McCann also took a leadership role, as fans can surely recall McCann calling out shortstop Jose Iglesias in the dugout over Iglesias’s effort on a ground ball in August.
The incident resulted in Iglesias pushing McCann, but fans, teammates and the media coined the rookie catcher as a leader ever since.