It can’t be easy to follow Michael Fulmer.
The 2017 Tigers season wasn’t rife with rookie talent, so when the Detroit Sports Media announced the recipient of their annual Tigers Rookie of the Year award, the selection of utility infielder Dixon Machado should not have come as a surprise.
During the early days of spring training, JaCoby Jones seemed like the potential breakout star, but it was Machado who proved that his patience and skill were award worthy. When the Bless You Boys staff predicted who would win the Rookie of the Year honors, we were split evenly between Jones and pitcher Joe Jimenez. Machado seems like a better pick, in retrospect.
This was actually Machado’s third season with the Tigers, but he did not exceed his rookie limits during the 2015 or 2016 campaigns. This allowed him to test the waters at the major league level a few times before seeing more reps in the 2017 season, appearing in 73 games this year. He hit for .259/.302/.319 and nabbed his first major league home run.
Defensively, he posted average numbers, with a -3 DRS and a -1.5 UZR. Ultimately, in a class with such limited options, Machado is still far and away the most obvious Rookie of the Year candidate. He’s reliable, likable, and does his job. He may not be exciting, but he’s certainly worthy of the award this season.
Machado joins some impressive company as Tigers Rookie of the Year. The 2016 winner was Michael Fulmer of course, but other notable Tigers ROYs are Rick Porcello, Justin Verlander, Curtis Granderson, and none other than Lou Whitaker.
Time will tell what Machado’s legacy with the team is, but he has been a consistent, if quiet, performer. With the rebuild in full swing, it seems likely he will get significantly more playing time going forward, and with it an opportunity to prove himself further.
Congratulations to Dixon Machado, the 2017 Tigers Rookie of the Year.