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Goodrum named Tigers Rookie of the Year

Super-utility player made sizable difference on and off the diamond
MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- Niko Goodrum joined the Tigers on a Spring Training invite last offseason, hoping his versatility and a coaching staff that remembered him from Minnesota would help him win a roster spot. Nearly a year to the day after signing, Goodrum was named Tigers Rookie of the Year by Detroit Sports Media, honoring a breakthrough season for the former second-round Draft pick.

It was a fitting reward for a season in which Goodrum found his footing, on and off the field.

DETROIT -- Niko Goodrum joined the Tigers on a Spring Training invite last offseason, hoping his versatility and a coaching staff that remembered him from Minnesota would help him win a roster spot. Nearly a year to the day after signing, Goodrum was named Tigers Rookie of the Year by Detroit Sports Media, honoring a breakthrough season for the former second-round Draft pick.

It was a fitting reward for a season in which Goodrum found his footing, on and off the field.

Goodrum earned one of the final spots on the Tigers' Opening Day roster, finding a role as a super-utility player after blistering base hits all Spring Training. After a slow start, his season took off in mid-May with three home runs in a two-day stretch, including a two-homer, five-RBI game in a 6-3 win over the Indians on May 14.

Video: CLE@DET: Goodrum has big two-homer, five-RBI game

By the end of June, Goodrum was getting the bulk of the starts at second base, supplanting Dixon Machado as manager Ron Gardenhire tried to bolster the offense. Goodrum posted two four-hit games in the first week of July, drove in three runs in an extra-inning loss at Tampa Bay, and hit .286/.316/.505 in July on his way to earning Tigers Player of the Month honors.

Video: Patience paid off for Niko Goodrum

After a drop in average despite five homers in August, Goodrum finished strong, batting .313 (21-for-67) in September with 10 RBIs while making starts at every infield position, plus right field.

Goodrum's 16 home runs were the most by a Tigers rookie since Craig Monroe hit 23 in 2003. His 48 extra-base hits finished second among AL rookies, and were the most by a Detroit rookie since Austin Jackson in 2010. He played every position except center field, catcher and pitcher, and he served as the Tigers' emergency catcher for a good stretch of the summer.

Video: CWS@DET: Goodrum lays out for an acrobatic catch

Goodrum also made an impact in the community. He donated bottled water to residents in Flint, Mich., and traveled to town on an off-day to help distribute it at a local church. He did the same for students in Detroit Public Schools in September when he heard of their lack of drinking water.

Video: Niko Donates Water To Schools

Goodrum will be presented with his award prior to a Tigers home game next season by Detroit Sports Media, formerly known as the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association, which has selected the Tigers Rookie of the Year since 1969.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Niko Goodrum