Over the years the Detroit Tigers have fielded many outstanding players. What’s even more impressive is what some Tigers rookies accomplished during their first season. Let’s take a look back at the Top 5 Rookies in the history of the Detroit Tigers. All statistics for this post were gleaned from www.baseball-reference.com.
*Note: We did not include any rookies from 2021 as the season is not yet completed.
In 2010, Austin Jackson played his rookie season for the Tigers. His stat line was impressive with .293 BA, 181 hits, 4 home runs, and a .345 OBP. His WAR rating for that year was the highest of all AL Rookies at 5.1. Jackson also showed off some quickness recording 27 stolen bases for the year. All of this added up to a 2nd place finish in the AL Rookie of the Year award.
Few people played the game of baseball with the unbridled enthusiasm of Mark Fidrych. The first Tigers rookie to win the AL Rookie of the Year Award, Fidrych had a sensational statistical year in 1976.
Fidrych pitched 24 complete games and a total of 250 1/3 innings in 1976 posting 2.34 ERA, 97 strikeouts, and only 53 walks for the year. His overall record in his rookie season was 19-9. “The Bird” was also runner-up for the AL Cy Young Award his rookie season.
Check out the video below for an example of just how exciting he was to watch as a player.
The 2016 campaign for the Detroit Tigers team was anything but memorable. However, there were some individual bright spots including rookie pitcher Michael Fulmer.
Fulmer’s stat line was impressive. 26 starts, 159 innings, and a 3.06 ERA and 132 strikeouts. His WAR was 4.9 and was credited with a quality start 58 percent of his starts. Fulmer also recorded a 33 1/3 scoreless innings during 2016 which is a Tigers record. He was also named the AL Rookie of the Year for 2016.
Sweet Lou Whitaker obviously had an incredible career wearing the Old English D. The AL Rookie of the Year winner in 1978, many younger Tigers fans did not have the opportunity to see him play live. During his rookie season, Whitaker compiled a .285 BA, .361 OBP, 138 hits, and 58 RBI. Defensively he turned 95 double plays as a 2nd baseman while committing only 17 errors.
Here are some highlights from Whitaker’s stellar career with the Tigers.
Justin Verlander has had an incredible career as a starting pitcher for the Detroit Tigers.
2006 was his first full season as a major leaguer and Verlander did not disappoint. With an overall record of 17-9, 3.63 ERA, and 124 strikeouts Verlander was named AL Rookie of the Year. He also started Game 1 of the 2006 World Series and became the first rookie pitcher in MLB history to win 10 games before the end of June.
Here’s Verlander striking out 8 batters in his first World Series appearance.