J.D. Martinez had a monster season and despite falling just shy of a Gold Glove Award for his work in right field, has earned another achievement. The Detroit Tigers announced on Thursday that the Detroit chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America had named Martinez the 2015 Tiger of the Year, giving him top honors as the best player on the team.
In doing so, he became the seventh player in Tigers history to hit 38-or-more home runs and drive in 100-or-more runs in a season, joining Miguel Cabrera (2010, 2012, 2013), Norm Cash (1961), Rocky Colavito (1961), Cecil Fielder (1990, 1991), Hank Greenberg (1937, 1938, 1940,1946) and Dean Palmer (1999). He also is the first Tigers outfielder to record 100-or-more RBI in a season since Magglio Ordoñez recorded 103 RBI in 2008.
Home runs. Martinez had plenty of them. He finished two short of 40 and narrowly avoided his 30th dinger held for ransom by the Tigers bullpen. Good times. But being as this was 2015 and Martinez was still settling in to his kind of new swing -- and the weird and freaky happened a lot this year -- he started out slow. Real slow, actually. So slow, it got people worried until a couple of games when he figured it out and went on a tear. Then he went to the MLB All-Star Game for the first time in his career and dominated for the rest of the year.
Want defense? Yep, he had that, too. You don't get to be a finalist for the Gold Glove (usually) for being awful defensively. And he made it exciting. While Yoenis Cespedes was busy being a beast in left field, Martinez was quietly dominating in right. He started making assists at seemingly every turn and at one point BAM he was leading all of baseball in assists. He closed the year out tied for third in the American League for assists, with 15.
Oh, yeah. Stats. Martinez is only 28 years old and in 2015 he set new career-high marks just about everywhere. Enough to light up a Christmas tree or some such thing. He tallied highs in games played (158), at-bats (596), runs scored (93), hits (168), doubles (33), home runs (38), RBI (102), and walks (53). Defensively, he had the third-strongest arm in baseball -- 8.8 ARM -- and his 8.0 UZR/150 was the second-best for a right fielder in the AL. Also, he recorded the second-most DRS by the same token (4), according to FanGraphs.
Then there was this monster, a two-run shot hit to dead center over the camera well. It became the longest home run hit in Comerica Park, a whopping 466 feet. On Father's Day. With Miguel Cabrera not himself this year, and Victor Martinez a shell due to injury, J.D. set himself apart as being the clear choice for being named Tiger of the Year. But J.D. earned every bit of this award regardless of Cabrera and Victor's health. And just imagine the numbers that he'll put up next season.