Rookie of the Year Award
Spencer Torkelson, 1B, 2022
Every so often the chosen one arrives and does exactly what was foretold. Such is the case with Spencer Torkleson, who was held back in Toledo for a few months “to work on his defense at third base” before coming up to Detroit and immediately moving back to first. After a rough couple of weeks getting adjusted, Tork dialed in and raked for the rest of the season. He finished the year with a 12.2% walk rate, a 24.7% strikeout rate, and nearly half of his hits going for extra bases. He wasn’t a unanimous winner though, as the first-base penalty kept his WAR at just 2.4, but he won the award anyway thanks to the cachet of being the first overall pick, and an added narrative bonus of leading the Tigers in RBIs despite missing 60 games.
Reliever of the Year Award
Matt Manning, 2026
Matt Manning’s inability to find a consistent third pitch and get through the 6th inning led to three years of middling ERAs as a starter and a handful of return trips to Toledo. After a particularly rough stretch in 2024 the Tigers decided to send Manning to the bullpen. The early returns were promising, with Manning’s fastball sitting at 96 mph instead of 94, but it was a chance encounter that really changed his fortunes. Former Tigers closer Todd Jones, in town to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the last game at Tiger Stadium, made a grip suggestion to Manning, leading to a devastating new cutter. He learned to master the pitch over the course of 2025, moving into a setup role, and then dominated as the closer in 2026, earning the Mariano Rivera AL Reliever of the Year Award.