Silver Slugger Award
Willi Castro, 2B, 2023
Willi Castro’s impressive 2020 was largely driven by luck and small sample sizes, but he did show some useful tools, including above-average speed, the ability to barrel the ball, and surprising raw pop. This Silver Slugger award was driven by luck, too, though not all from his .365 BABIP. Castro got lucky because of a lack of competition at second base. Gleyber Torres missed half of his games in 2023 with a hamstring tear, and D.J. Lemahieu and Jose Altuve started showing their age. That didn’t stop them from getting All-Star bids ahead of Castro, though.
Gold Glove Award
Marcelo Mayer, SS, and Carlos Correa, 3B, 2026
After ten years without a Gold Glove award winner, the Tigers took home two in one season with an infield tandem that was the envy of baseball. Marcelo Mayer was considered a bit of a reach when the Tigers took him 3rd overall in the 2021 draft, but the team thought he had the best hit tool in the class, and Al Avila had an existing relationship with Mayer’s Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, CA, where Adrian Gonzalez went to school when Avila and the Marlins drafted him first overall in 2000.
Mayer didn’t quite live up to his lofty offensive projections early in his career, but his defense ended up better than just about anyone expected thanks to terrific instincts. Correa signed his big deal with the Tigers in December 2021, and though he capably manned shortstop for several seasons, by the time Mayer debuted in late 2024 it was obvious he was the future of the position. Correa agreed to move to third base the next year, and truth be told, both should have won a Gold Glove in 2025, but it takes time for people to recognize such things. Instead they won in 2026, when Tigers pitchers led the AL in ERA.