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Mahtook's HR leads Tigers in V-Mart's finale

Detroit cracks Junis' code; first win in 7 tries vs. righty
MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- On the night the Tigers saluted Victor Martinez for his 16-year career, they also broke their hex against Royals starter Jakob Junis. Mikie Mahtook's two-run eighth-inning homer off Jason Hammel put the Tigers up for good, sending Detroit to a 5-4 win Saturday night at Comerica Park.

They didn't hand a loss to Junis, who had won his last six appearances against Detroit since last summer. But they didn't let him walk away with a win, either. They let Martinez walk away with one more hit.

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DETROIT -- On the night the Tigers saluted Victor Martinez for his 16-year career, they also broke their hex against Royals starter Jakob Junis. Mikie Mahtook's two-run eighth-inning homer off Jason Hammel put the Tigers up for good, sending Detroit to a 5-4 win Saturday night at Comerica Park.

They didn't hand a loss to Junis, who had won his last six appearances against Detroit since last summer. But they didn't let him walk away with a win, either. They let Martinez walk away with one more hit.

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"Fun day, really fun day," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "And to win the ballgame at the end was really cool."

Video: KC@DET: Gardenhire on Martinez's final game

Martinez's 1,973rd and final Major League game lasted one inning for him, enough for an infield single -- his 2,153rd career hit -- to help fuel an opening tally off Junis. Niko Goodrum, back after missing a week with a right quad contusion, singled home Nicholas Castellanos in the first and doubled in Christin Stewart in the third before a pair of wild pitches brought JaCoby Jones around to score a go-ahead run in the fifth.

Video: KC@DET: Goodrum plates run with ground-rule double

Junis, who had given up six runs over 31 innings in his previous four meetings with the Tigers this season, yielded three runs on eight hits over six innings Saturday. His six wins against Detroit since the start of last season tie him with Cleveland's Corey Kluber for most in that stretch, but he settled for a no-decision. He was on the hook for a loss as Jordan Zimmermann churned through seven innings of two-run ball, until Whit Merrifield tied the game with a two-out RBI double in the eighth off a 3-0 pitch from Joe Jimenez, ending his streak of six perfect innings with 11 strikeouts in September.

Video: KC@DET: Zimmermann K's 5 over 7 strong innings

"The starting pitcher always gives you a chance, and [Zimmermann] pitched really, really well," Gardenhire said. "Jimenez has been really good, just got one up."

Goodrum's third hit of the night, deflected up the middle by Hammel and shortstop Adalberto Mondesi, earned the Tigers a leadoff runner in the eighth. Mahtook turned on a hanging slider from Hammel (3-14) for his ninth homer of the year.

Salvador Perez brought the Royals back within a run with a ninth-inning solo homer off Shane Greene, but the Tigers closer held on for his 31st save.

Video: KC@DET: Greene retires Dozier to record the save

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Martinez's infield single didn't decide the game, but it ended a 16-year career for Martinez, who announced earlier in the week that he wanted his final game to be Saturday in front of the home fans. His ground ball went into the typical infield shift he sees against right-handed pitchers, but he picked up speed as he saw Merrifield struggling to charge it and Mondesi scrambling over to retrieve it. Martinez beat the play as the crowd roared, then received a standing ovation as Ronny Rodriguez pinch-ran for him.

Video: KC@DET: V-Mart beats out single for final hit

"I think that at-bat was the perfect at-bat to describe my career," Martinez said. "I had to sweat it out. I had to grind it out. And that was my whole career, grinding."

SOUND SMART
Martinez ends his career 15th all-time among Major League switch-hitters in RBIs (1,178), 16th in home runs (246), 18th in doubles (423) and 23rd in hits (2,153).

HE SAID IT
"I felt like I drove three hours to the field today. I didn't want to get to the field. And I knew this day was coming, but man, I didn't want to get to the field. I think that was the hardest part." -- Martinez, on the hardest part of his final game

Video: KC@DET: Martinez discusses final hit, final game

UP NEXT
The Tigers wrap up their home schedule Sunday with the series finale against the Royals at 1:10 p.m. ET at Comerica Park. Daniel Norris (0-5, 5.71 ERA), who tossed 4 2/3 innings of one-run ball against the Royals in a spot start in April, will try to top that as he vies for his first win since beating the Royals last Sept. 28. Brad Keller (8-6, 3.17) will start for Kansas City.

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

Detroit Tigers, Mikie Mahtook

V-Mart singles in final AB, walks off to ovation

16-year veteran plays 1B for final time, honored in pregame ceremony
MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- The ball looked like another Victor Martinez grounder into the shift at first glance. Under most circumstances, it might have been. But as second baseman Whit Merrifield waited on it, and shortstop Adalberto Mondesi tried charging over to fill the gap, Martinez found another gear down the line, beating the play at first.

"I smelled it," he said of his infield single.

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DETROIT -- The ball looked like another Victor Martinez grounder into the shift at first glance. Under most circumstances, it might have been. But as second baseman Whit Merrifield waited on it, and shortstop Adalberto Mondesi tried charging over to fill the gap, Martinez found another gear down the line, beating the play at first.

"I smelled it," he said of his infield single.

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It was his 2,153rd and final Major League hit. For that matter, it was his final play on a big league ball field. As farewells go, it couldn't have been scripted much better, complete with a twinge of irony.

"I thought it was priceless," reliever Alex Wilson said. "I mean, of all the hits he's ever gotten, the last one you would expect is an infield single on the last day of his career."

To Nicholas Castellanos, whose locker has been next to Martinez's the last few years, it was fitting.

"I said, 'That's your whole career summed up,'" Castellanos said. "He said, 'What do you mean?' I said, 'Did you work hard for that hit?' And he said, 'Yeah.' 'Yeah, that's your career, man. That hit's perfect.'"

Martinez went out on his own terms, both in Saturday's 5-4 Tigers win, and in his career. Despite a week remaining in the season, he wanted Saturday to be his last game, because he wanted to end his career in front of the home fans.

He also wanted to play in the field in his 1,973rd and final game, not just serve as the designated hitter. He would've loved to catch, but those days ended years ago. He started Saturday at first base for the first time since June 1, 2016.

"Hey, it's his day," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "If he wants to play first base, he's got it."

Video: KC@DET: Gardenhire on Martinez's final game

He celebrated in front of the home fans, but also his teammates, who played a heavy role in pregame ceremonies honoring his career. With catcher James McCann at the microphone, they brought him onto the field and presented him with gifts. The collage of baseball cards from all 16 of his Major League seasons was a no-brainer. The cowboy boots and Tigers-themed saddle were a nod to the post-playing career he has been planning for a few years, the cattle ranch he owns in central Florida.

Video: KC@DET: V-Mart honored pregame at Comerica Park

"We thought that would be a good fit," said Wilson, who used some contacts in Texas to put them together.

The team also had fun with the occasion, presenting Martinez with a Tiger-themed recliner. He also received a watch honoring his career.

Martinez, who was in tears when the Indians honored him in a pregame ceremony last week for his early years spent with Cleveland, was emotional from the outset of the ceremony as he hugged his young daughter. He also hugged every Tigers player as they greeted him in front of the dugout -- including Miguel Cabrera, who has been out since mid-June following season-ending biceps surgery, but made the trip from South Florida.

Martinez gathered himself long enough to make a brief thank you to fans for their support during his eight years in Detroit.

"From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you for being behind us all these years, supporting my teammates, supporting myself," he said. "Thank you very much."

As Ronny Rodriguez dashed out of the dugout to pinch-run, just as Gardenhire had planned if and when Martinez got a base hit Saturday, the crowd at Comerica Park rose for a standing ovation.

So did the Tigers' dugout. So did the Royals players around the infield. So did fellow Venezuelans Salvador Perez and Alcides Escobar, who ran out and hugged him as he made his way around home plate toward the dugout steps.

"He called me on my first day here and told me to come out and give him a hug [tonight]," Perez said. "He taught me so much inside and outside of baseball; how to play and how to take care of your family. I will try to be like him and play until I'm 39."

Martinez had to work through a lot to get to that point, from multiple knee surgeries to two heart scares last year amid a struggling season. Between the heart and the bat, his chances at sticking through this season looked long a year ago.

He made it, and Saturday was his chance to go out on his terms.

"It's definitely a day I will always remember," Martinez said. "I don't have enough words to thank everybody here in Detroit, none more than the fans. They made me not only a better player, but they made me a better person. I thank them for that."

Video: KC@DET: Martinez discusses final hit, final game

He gave everything he had on the field, he said. He had to give everything in his aging legs for that last hit. When the Tigers went back into the clubhouse after the win, they gave Martinez the same celebration for his last hit that they give rookies for their first.

"We doused him, just like we douse somebody for their first hit, first home run," Castellanos said. "We gave him a retirement shower."

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

Detroit Tigers, Victor Martinez

Defensive miscues cost Detroit in loss to KC

Tigers commit three errors, tag Liriano with 3 unearned runs in Friday's opener
MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- The Tigers are closing out the season with several young players who didn't begin the year in Detroit. They could open next season with an even younger squad. Expect manager Ron Gardenhire to spend a good amount of Spring Training focusing on defensive fundamentals before then.

After three unearned runs off Francisco Liriano made the difference in a 4-3 loss to the Royals, those early morning sessions that lie ahead for the young Tigers in Lakeland, Fla., in six months have more evidence for their importance.

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DETROIT -- The Tigers are closing out the season with several young players who didn't begin the year in Detroit. They could open next season with an even younger squad. Expect manager Ron Gardenhire to spend a good amount of Spring Training focusing on defensive fundamentals before then.

After three unearned runs off Francisco Liriano made the difference in a 4-3 loss to the Royals, those early morning sessions that lie ahead for the young Tigers in Lakeland, Fla., in six months have more evidence for their importance.

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"We're going to have a lot of young players in camp. We know that," Gardenhire said. "It's going to be different people. We plan on doing a lot of work. We plan on talking with our Minor League staff, getting everybody on board with what we're going to try to do here.

"It's going to be fun. You don't want to go into Spring Training thinking it's going to be a grind. This is going to be fun, because we're going to do a lot of fun, coming to the ballpark and doing a lot of things that we're talking about doing. You're going to see the difference, we hope, as we go along here. That's the big thing, understanding control of the baseball and getting it into the right people's hands and go from there."

Video: KC@DET: Liriano whiffs Merrifield for 1st out of game

Christin Stewart was not in Major League camp with the Tigers last Spring Training. He made some appearances in Grapefruit League games, but he missed the chance to work with Tigers coaches in daily workouts. His defensive work at Triple-A Toledo with outfield instructor Gene Roof prepared him for an eventual callup, but Friday marked his introduction to the speed of the big-league game.

In the first inning, Adalberto Mondesi capitalized on one of Detroit's lapses to score the Royals' first run. Mondesi saw Stewart's throw from left field to second base and broke from third, and he reached top speed so quickly that he scored without a throw. It was the kind of baserunning that marked the Royals' style during their World Series years.

Video: KC@DET: Mondesi scores from first on Gordon's single

"I tried to read the play. I was hoping he would do that, 100 percent," Mondesi said. "Then I just ran hard and got us a run."

"Great instinctual baserunning," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

It's the style of play Gardenhire also wants his baserunners to emulate -- and his fielders to beware.

"You have to come up and get rid of the ball," Gardenhire said. "You can't look around and hold the ball. If he gives it up to second base right away, or gives it up to the cutoff man, who knows? But you can't hold. Those guys are really aggressive runners.

"And he was talked to. He gets it."

It wasn't an errant play, but it wasn't an earned run off Liriano either. Two fourth-inning errors -- a missed throw by Jarrod Saltalamacchia at first base and a fumble from Stewart in the left-field corner -- set up two more unearned runs.

Video: KC@DET: Herrera brings home Escobar on an RBI double

To single out Stewart one day after his two-homer, six-RBI game would overlook the general play from Friday's loss, and the teaching moments that have come up with other players over the last couple weeks.

"We made a lot of mistakes," Gardenhire said. "[Liriano] actually threw the ball pretty good, I thought. We played really bad baseball the first three or four innings, missing plays and not throwing the ball to the right place. One of those learning experiences, I hope."

Alex Gordon's third-inning RBI single, one of three hits for him on the night, comprised the lone earned run against Liriano (5-11), who posted his third consecutive quality start. Royals starter Ian Kennedy (3-8) delivered seven-plus quality innings for the win.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Nicholas Castellanos nearly led the Tigers back with a pair of RBI doubles in the sixth and eighth innings before a Ronny Rodriguez single and Jeimer Candelario walk put the potential winning run on base. Royals closer Wily Peralta struck out Lugo and pinch-hitter Jim Adduci, both on breaking balls, for his 12th save.

Video: KC@ DET: Castellanos crushes 2nd RBI double in 8th

SOUND SMART
Castellanos' two doubles bumped his season total to 44, tied for 23rd on the Tigers' single-season list.

UP NEXT
Victor Martinez will pick up a bat one more time for what he says will be his final Major League game Saturday as the series continues with a 6:10 p.m. ET start at Comerica Park. The Tigers will honor their longtime designated hitter in pregame festivities before Jordan Zimmermann (7-8, 4.41) takes the mound opposite Jakob Junis (8-12, 4.42), who beat the Tigers twice in Detroit in April.

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

Detroit Tigers

Martinez to play final game on Saturday

Tigers veteran to be honored with pregame ceremony
MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- The games have been going by quickly for Victor Martinez ever since he confirmed earlier this summer he plans to retire at season's end. The way he wants to go out is to have Saturday's game be his last.

On the same night the Tigers honor Martinez for his 16-year Major League career with a pregame ceremony at Comerica Park, the designated hitter will take his final at-bats. Though he plans to follow the team on the road for the final week of the season in Minnesota and Milwaukee, he will not play.

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DETROIT -- The games have been going by quickly for Victor Martinez ever since he confirmed earlier this summer he plans to retire at season's end. The way he wants to go out is to have Saturday's game be his last.

On the same night the Tigers honor Martinez for his 16-year Major League career with a pregame ceremony at Comerica Park, the designated hitter will take his final at-bats. Though he plans to follow the team on the road for the final week of the season in Minnesota and Milwaukee, he will not play.

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"I feel like I owe it to the fans to have my final at-bats here," Martinez said.

The decision explains why Martinez saved the balls from both of his base hits Thursday night. He wants the ball from his last big league at-bat, so he's keeping them all over these final days just in case.

Martinez said he has extended family flying into town on Friday night who will be in attendance for the ceremony prior to the 6:10 p.m. ET game against the Royals on Saturday. The Cleveland Indians, Martinez's original team where he played from his debut in 2002 to '09, honored him last weekend at Progressive Field in a pregame ceremony that left him emotional as fans cheered.

Video: DET@CLE: Indians honor Victor Martinez before game

Expect more of the same Saturday as the immediacy of his retirement -- and more importantly, the appreciation of Detroit fans that have followed him from his Cleveland days to his arrival with the Tigers as a free agent before the 2011 season -- hits home.

"We had some good memories, man," Martinez said. "Those playoff runs that we went through, we had some good teams. Unfortunately, we didn't accomplish the final goal, winning a championship. But I have quite a few [memories]. The best year of my career I had here in Detroit. I'll take a lot from this city and keep it with me."

While Ivan Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez will go down as the most significant free-agent signings of the late Mike Ilitch's tenure as the Tigers' owner, Martinez shouldn't be far behind. He arrived as a switch-hitting catcher with a sweet swing whom general manager Dave Dombrowski signed to provide veteran offensive punch to a then-young Tigers lineup.

Martinez became primarily a designated hitter in Detroit, rarely catching after a knee injury in 2011, but his bat endured. He hit .330 with 12 homers and 103 RBIs in his first season in Detroit, helping the Tigers to their first division title since '87.

After an offseason knee injury cost Martinez the 2012 season, he came back in '13 with a .301 average. His power returned in '14 with 32 homers, 103 RBIs and an American League-best .974 OPS, leading him to a second-place finish in AL MVP voting.

That production in a contract year led to a four-year extension. His numbers have been up and down since, but his .289 average, 27 homers and 86 RBIs as a 37-year-old DH in 2016 helped the Tigers stay in playoff contention until the final day of the regular season.

No Tigers switch-hitter has driven in more runs than Martinez, who entered Friday with 540 RBIs with Detroit. His 1,031 hits rank third all-time among switch-hitters in Detroit, while his 115 home runs rank second in the group behind Tony Clark.

Martinez is one of 31 players to record 1,000 hits in a Tigers uniform. He's one of 14 Tigers to homer in his age 39-or-older season.

"I want to leave this game with no regrets," Martinez said. "I gave everything I had on the field."

Martinez gets to leave the game on his terms, healthy after last year's heart issues led to questions about life after baseball. He strongly hinted in Spring Training that this year would be his last, referencing the cattle ranch he has built in central Florida. His post-baseball plans have been clear for a while as he has mentored young hitters like Jeimer Candelario this season.

"I'm going to take a break," he said. "I'm going to spend a lot of time on a saddle, just working on the ranch and being with my kids. We lose a lot of moments in this game with our families. It's time for me.

"My 5-year-old, she's been counting down my games since there were 14 games left. I'm down to two, and she's really excited that daddy's going to be able to watch her dance and do all that stuff at home. I have never had that chance."

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

Detroit Tigers, Victor Martinez

30 best games of '18 -- 1 player from each team

MLB.com @RichardJustice

We went in search of magic. That is, players rising up and doing something they may remember forever. Every team, all 30 of them, has moments like this.

From bunches of home runs to bunches of strikeouts, from household names to players you may not have heard of before, these are players that become part of the fabric of a season.

We went in search of magic. That is, players rising up and doing something they may remember forever. Every team, all 30 of them, has moments like this.

From bunches of home runs to bunches of strikeouts, from household names to players you may not have heard of before, these are players that become part of the fabric of a season.

Here we go: 30 special individual performances for 30 teams:

American League East

Blue Jays: Yangervis Solarte
Date: May 3 vs. CLE
The infielder collected five hits, including a decisive 11th-inning grand slam, in a 13-11 victory over the Indians at Progressive Field. He became the second player in the live-ball era with at least five hits, including an extra-inning grand slam. The other was Jim Rice in 1984.

Orioles: Manny Machado
Date: 
May 11 vs. TB
Machado hit two home runs, including a seventh-inning grand slam, and drove in six as the Orioles beat the Rays, 9-4, at Camden Yards. At 25, he became the youngest Orioles player to hit 150 home runs. "Words can't even describe how exciting that it is, reaching that milestone," he said.

Rays: Ji-Man Choi
Date: 
Sept. 10 vs. CLE
Choi's two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning produced a 6-5 victory over the Indians. In one swing, he kept Tampa Bay's postseason hopes alive and extended its home winning streak to 12 games.

Video: NYY@BOS: Betts his slam, collects four hits vs. Yanks

Red Sox: Mookie Betts
Date: 
April 10 vs. NYY
Betts scored five runs and collected four hits, including two doubles and a grand slam, in a 14-1 victory over the Yankees at Fenway Park.

Yankees: Luis Severino
Date:
May 2 at HOU
Severino struck out 10 Astros in the first complete game of his career, a 4-0 victory at Minute Maid Park. "I wouldn't want to be in the box facing him," teammate Giancarlo Stanton said. "He's going to pound the zone at 100 mph, and if you look on time for that, you're going to get that 90-mph slider. It's exactly what we needed tonight and another par-for-the-course outing for him."

AL CENTRAL

Video: Must C Clutch: Lindor homers twice to hold off Twins

Indians: Francisco Lindor
Date:
May 31 at MIN
Lindor had two doubles, two homers and four RBIs in a 9-8 win over the Twins at Target Field. He joined Adrian Beltre, Jim Edmonds and Rafael Palmeiro as the only players since 1908 to have two such games in the same season.

Royals: Jorge Lopez
Date:
Sept. 8 at MIN
Lopez took a perfect game into the ninth inning in the seventh start of his career. The 25-year-old right-hander walked the leadoff hitter in the ninth, then allowed a hit before departing in what would be a 4-1 win over the Twins at Target Field.

Tigers: Nicholas Castellanos
Date:
Aug. 13 vs. CWS
Castellanos went 5-for-5 with two doubles, a home run and five RBIs in a 9-5 victory over the White Sox. Among the hits was a go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh inning off Jeanmar Gomez.

Twins: Eddie Rosario
Date:
June 3 vs. CLE
With his father sitting a few feet from home plate, Eddie Rosario homered three times, including a two-run walk-off shot that gave the Twins a 7-5 victory over the Indians at Target Field. "It was Rosie's day," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I've seen a lot of good days in the big leagues. But I don't know if I've seen one that was more dramatic than that as far as the first inning all the way through the end."

White Sox: Matt Davidson
Date: 
March 29 at KC
Davidson became the fourth player to hit three home runs on Opening Day as the White Sox rallied from a 4-0 deficit to beat the Royals, 14-7, at Kauffman Stadium. "What an incredible day he had," teammate James Shields said. "Really happy for him. He works his butt off every day, and to have a day like that is pretty special."

AL WEST

Video: LAA@NYY: Trout goes 5-for-5 with career-high 4 XBHs

Angels: Mike Trout
Date:
May 26 at NYY
Trout had a home run, three doubles and an infield single in an 11-4 victory at Yankee Stadium. "He's an unbelievable player and I think he showed that tonight," Yankees starter Sonny Gray said. "He put some good swings on the ball and in the fourth, he hit that homer. That was ultimately the icing on the cake for me."

Astros: Gerrit Cole
Date:
 May 4 at ARI
Cole struck out 16 D-backs in a one-hit complete game, an 8-0 victory at Chase Field. He finished it with a 99-mph fastball to strike out Jarrod Dyson. "Wow," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "It's hard to describe. It's an incredible display of pitching."

Athletics: Sean Manaea
Date:
April 21 vs. BOS
Manaea threw the seventh no-hitter in Oakland A's history in a 3-0 victory over the Red Sox at the Coliseum. "I've caught a lot of great pitchers in this game," A's catcher Jonathan Lucroy said, "and that was the most well-pitched, well-executed game I've ever had behind the plate."

Video: Paxton tosses sixth no-hitter in Mariners history

Mariners: James Paxton
Date:
May 8 at TOR
Paxton returned to his native Canada to no-hit the Blue Jays, 5-0, at Rogers Centre. It was the first complete game of his career. "To have it happen in Canada. What are the odds?" Paxton said. "Just very special."

Rangers: Rougned Odor
Date:
July 28 at HOU
Odor hit two home runs and had a double and two singles in a 7-3 victory at Minute Maid Park. "We talked about finding his swagger, getting his swagger back, getting that confidence back," then-Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "Know that you're a really good player and just go show it and stay focused on every single pitch."

NL EAST

Video: Must C Classic: Acuna's 2 homers make history

Braves: Ronald Acuna Jr.
Date:
Aug. 14 vs. MIA
Acuna homered twice and added a single in a 10-6 victory over the Marlins at SunTrust Park. The 20-year-old hit the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the first inning to become the youngest player ever to homer in five consecutive games. "He's the best player I've ever seen," Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte said. "He's just unbelievable."

Marlins: Jose Urena
Date:
Aug. 19 at WSH
Urena retired the final 16 Nationals in a complete-game 12-1 victory at Nationals Park. "You can just see the fire in his eyes every time he's out there," Marlins shortstop JT Riddle said.

Video: NYM@CHC: deGrom K's 10, notches 2 hits vs. Cubs

Mets: Jacob deGrom
Date:
Aug. 28 at CHC
deGrom struck out 10 Cubs and allowed one run in an eight-inning masterpiece of a loss at Wrigley Field. "The guy is as advertised," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "That's different. That's another level of stuff."

Nationals: Max Scherzer
Date:
May 6 vs. PHI
Scherzer struck out 15 Phillies in 6 1/3 innings in a 5-4 victory at Nationals Park. He was the first pitcher in history to get 15 strikeouts in 6 1/3 (or fewer) innings. "He doesn't slow," Nationals manager Davey Martinez said. "I watch him in the gym. I watch him watch video. His mind is constantly going and constantly learning."

Phillies: Odubel Herrera
Date:
June 22 at WSH
Herrera scored four runs and had four hits, including a homer, in a 12-2 victory at Nationals Park. "It's simply incredible what he can do," teammate Zach Eflin said. "The thing with Odubel is that he can shake off anything at any given time. He can look like he's struggling and next pitch he sends it 440 feet."

NL CENTRAL

Video: MIL@CIN: Yelich records cycle with 6 hits, shows arm

Brewers: Christian Yelich
Date:
Aug. 29 at CIN
Yelich hit for the cycle -- the first of two Yelich cycles this season -- and had six hits in all in a 13-12, 10-inning victory over the Reds at Great American Ball Park. "I've never seen a game like that," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He's coming up there and you're thinking he can't do it again, and he does it again."

Cardinals: Matt Carpenter
Date:
July 20 at CHC
Carpenter became the second player in MLB history to hit three homers and two doubles in a game. He did it all in in six innings in an 18-5 victory at Wrigley Field. "I'm having a hard time coming up with words to describe a day like this," Carpenter said.

Cubs: David Bote
Date:
Aug. 12 vs. WSH
Bote delivered a pinch-hit grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning at Wrigley Field to turn a 3-0 loss into a 4-3, walk-off victory over the Nationals. He became the first Cubs player to hit a pinch-hit walk-off grand slam since Earl Averill in 1959.

Pirates: Jameson Taillon
Date:
April 8 vs. CIN
Taillon tossed a one-hitter and drove in Pittsburgh's first run in a 5-0 victory over over the Reds at PNC Park. It was Pittsburgh's first complete-game one-hitter since A.J. Burnett shut out the Cubs in 2012. "This guy, he's special," Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli said.

Reds: Scooter Gennett
Date:
May 26 at COL
Gennett collected five hits -- a first-inning home run and four singles -- and was part of a game-ending defensive play to close out a 6-5 victory over the Rockies at Coors Field.

NL WEST

D-Backs: A.J. Pollock
Date:
April 30 vs. LAD
Pollock hit three home runs in an 8-5 win at Chase Field. "I'm seeing the ball pretty well right now," he said. "I don't know. Some days it just works."

Video: Must C Classic: Puig crushes 3 homers vs. Cardinals

Dodgers: Yasiel Puig
Date:
Sept. 15 at STL
Puig launched three home runs and drove in seven runs in a 17-4 victory over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Puig explained his power surge as only he can: He said the grasshoppers that have swarmed Busch Stadium have gotten him going. He said he considered eating one or two. Manager Dave Roberts had a better explanation. "He's focused and he understands the importance of every pitch," he said. "And when he does that, he's as good as anybody in baseball."

Giants: Andrew McCutchen
Date:
April 7 vs. LAD
McCutchen went 6-for-7 with four RBIs, including a walk-off home run, in a 14-inning, 7-5 victory over the Dodgers at AT&T Park. Giants manager Bruce Bochy called the victory "epic" and added, "It's one of those Giants-Dodgers games that will be talked about."

Padres: Christian Villanueva
Date:
April 3 vs. COL
Villanueva belted three home runs in his 14th career game in an 8-4 victory over the Rockies at Petco Park. "I have a lot of dreams, I have a lot of goals, and I think, little by little, I'm starting to reach them," Villanueva said.

Rockies: DJ LeMahieu
Date:
June 28 at SF
LeMahieu's go-ahead home run at AT&T Park probably did more than give the Rockies a 9-8 victory. It came at a time when they were in fourth place in the NL West and had fallen eight games off the pace. There was speculation they might sell at the Trade Deadline. The Rockies won 44 of their next 69 games. Only the Cubs did better in that time.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Stewart has impressed in September

MLB.com @JimCallisMLB

Rowdy Tellez broke out as one of the game's better first-base prospects with 23 homers and a .917 OPS as a 21-year-old in Double-A in 2016, but he produced a total of just 19 homers with a .692 OPS during the next two seasons in Triple-A. Nevertheless, the Blue Jays called him up on Sept. 4 to get a glimpse of how he might fit in their future.

Rowdy Tellez broke out as one of the game's better first-base prospects with 23 homers and a .917 OPS as a 21-year-old in Double-A in 2016, but he produced a total of just 19 homers with a .692 OPS during the next two seasons in Triple-A. Nevertheless, the Blue Jays called him up on Sept. 4 to get a glimpse of how he might fit in their future.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

Since then, Tellez (No. 28 on the Blue Jays Top 30) has been Toronto's best hitter. He became the first player in the live-ball era to deliver extra-base hits in each of his three plate appearances, and he's batting .385/.400/.744 with a pair of home runs through 40 trips to the plate. It's a small sample size and he has been used mostly in a platoon role facing right-handers, but he definitely has boosted his prospect status.

Signed for a well above-slot $850,000 as a 30th-rounder in 2013, Tellez is the 12th big leaguer to come out of Elk Grove (Calif.) High, also the alma mater of J.D. Davis, David Freitas, David Hernandez and the No. 4 overall pick in this year's Draft, Nick Madrigal. He offers an intriguing combination of left-handed power potential and plate discipline, even if his home run numbers dropped the last two years.

Toronto doesn't have an obvious opening for Tellez in its 2019 lineup, so he may have to swallow some more time in Triple-A. The Jays' two best hitters this season have been Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales, who occupy the two positions (first base and DH) that Tellez can play and are both under contract for next year.

Video: TB@TOR: Tellez smacks a 2-run homer to right-center

Even if his immediate future isn't clear, Tellez's present is spectacular. Here are four other September callups with notable performances:

Josh James, RHP, Astros
After leading the Minors in strikeout rate (13.5), the Astros No. 6 prospect has blown away hitters in the Majors as well. He has 24 strikeouts in 16 innings, along with a 2.81 ERA, a win in two starts and a pair of holds in two relief appearances. He has averaged 97 mph with his fastball and 86 mph with his slider, and it would behoove the Astros to find space on their postseason roster to include him.

Video: SEA@HOU: James strikes out 7 in 1st career win

Francisco Mejia, C, Padres
The top-rated catcher (No. 21 overall) on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list, Mejia homered twice in his first start for the Padres, who acquired him from the Indians in July in exchange for Brad Hand and Adam Cimber. Curiously for a player who needs to polish his receiving and a team that needs to figure out if it would be better off making the most out of his bat by moving its No. 3 prospect to a less challenging position, he has started only five more games since behind the plate. He's hitting .242/.306/.545 with three homers in 36 plate appearances.

Video: Must C Clutch: Galvis ties it, Mejia's slam wins it

Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Blue Jays
Toronto's No. 10 prospect has a pair of 10-strikeout efforts in three September starts, including one with five shutout innings against the Yankees, and a 3.86 ERA, 23 whiffs and a .186 opponent average in 16 2/3 innings this month. He works mainly with a low-90s fastball with life and a low-80s slider that has been absolutely filthy. According to FanGraphs, his slider has been worth 3.3 runs above average per 100 pitches -- which would make it the second-most valuable slider behind only Blake Snell's (3.8) if he had enough innings to qualify.

Video: TOR@NYY: Reid-Foley fans 10, tosses 5 shutout innings

Christin Stewart, OF, Tigers
Stewart has slammed 83 homers in the Minors during the last three seasons, and he hit the first two of his big league career as part of a six-RBI night against the Royals. The Tigers' No. 6 prospect's penchant for drawing walks also has translated, as he has six in 46 plate appearances while batting .256/.370/.436. He should be a regular part of the Tigers' 2019 lineup as a left fielder/DH.

Video: KC@DET: Stewart belts his 1st two career home runs

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Stewart hits 1st 2 HRs in 1st 2 innings of win

MLB.com

DETROIT -- The Tigers spent Thursday afternoon crushing tape-measure home runs in batting practice at Comerica Park, then took their big swings into an 11-8 win in the series opener against the Royals. Christin Stewart hit his first two Major League home runs in the first two innings, the first as part of back-to-back homers with Nicholas Castellanos, erasing two early deficits on a night when fly balls were carrying despite the flags blowing in.

Stewart, the Tigers' No. 6 prospect per MLB Pipeline, was among the big swingers in batting practice, hitting one ball into the shrubs beyond center field, and another onto the party deck in right. When Royals starter Jorge Lopez hung a 1-1 changeup in the first, Stewart pounced, sending a fly ball just over the right-field fence for his first Major League home run after hitting 93 homers over four seasons in the Minors.

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DETROIT -- The Tigers spent Thursday afternoon crushing tape-measure home runs in batting practice at Comerica Park, then took their big swings into an 11-8 win in the series opener against the Royals. Christin Stewart hit his first two Major League home runs in the first two innings, the first as part of back-to-back homers with Nicholas Castellanos, erasing two early deficits on a night when fly balls were carrying despite the flags blowing in.

Stewart, the Tigers' No. 6 prospect per MLB Pipeline, was among the big swingers in batting practice, hitting one ball into the shrubs beyond center field, and another onto the party deck in right. When Royals starter Jorge Lopez hung a 1-1 changeup in the first, Stewart pounced, sending a fly ball just over the right-field fence for his first Major League home run after hitting 93 homers over four seasons in the Minors.

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"I felt good in BP, but you never know," Stewart said. "I had a good feeling something good was going to happen today."

Video: KC@DET: Stewart, Castellanos go back-to-back in 1st

The Royals surged ahead in the second, chasing starter Matthew Boyd, but back-to-back hits leading off the bottom half brought up Stewart again. This time, he teed off on a hanging slider, belting it about a dozen rows deep into the right-field seats beside the tunnel for a three-run homer and a 7-5 lead.

"You saw tonight that he can get the bat to the ball," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He'll catch up to it and keep going. He's going to be fun to watch."

Stewart recorded his sixth RBI with a bases-loaded walk in the seventh. He is the first Tigers player since 1908 to post a six-RBI game within his first 11 Major League contests. The last Detroit rookie with a six-RBI game was Ryan Raburn, who drove in seven on July 25, 2007.

Video: KC@DET: Fan gets goodies for Stewart's 1st homer

Stewart's six RBIs marked his most in a game since collecting five on Aug. 13, 2015, for Class A West Michigan, his first summer as a pro after the Tigers selected him in the compensation round of that year's Draft. He became the first Detroit player to hit his first two career home runs in the same game since Brent Clevlen on Aug. 1, 2006.

A beneficiary of the expanded rosters in September, Stewart has become the starting left fielder as the Tigers try to get him as much playing time at the Major League level as possible before the season ends. His demeanor has remained calm and consistent as he auditions for a roster spot for 2019.

"After the first couple games, the nerves kind of died away and I just started to play baseball," Stewart said. "Honestly, after the first hit, you get that out of the way, everything just calms down a little bit. You just start playing baseball and having fun and playing loose."

Video: KC@DET: Stewart plates Lugo on bases-loaded walk

The Tigers' bullpen tamed the Royals with 7 2/3 innings of three-run ball. Zac Reininger, who tossed 2 1/3 innings after Boyd's exit, gave up a two-out, two-run home run to Hunter Dozier in the fourth. Five other relievers combined to allow one run over 5 1/3 innings.

In addition to his homer, Castellanos also tripled. Ronny Rodriguez collected three hits and Grayson Greiner went 1-for-1 with two RBIs and two walks.

Video: KC@DET: Stewart, Tigers on 11-8 win over Royals

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Tigers escape jam: After Boyd faced five batters in the second and recorded only one out, Gardenhire brought in Reininger with runners on first and second. He used four pitches to get both Dozier and Salvador Perez to fly out to Stewart in left field, keeping the Tigers' deficit at 5-4.

SOUND SMART
Castellanos recorded his 53rd multi-hit game of the season, tying him for fourth most in the Majors with the Rockies' Nolan Arenado.

HE SAID IT
"There's a reason why everybody calls him one of these top prospects and part of our big future, and he showed you a little bit tonight." -- Gardenhire, on Stewart's big night

UP NEXT
The Tigers continue the series against the Royals at Comerica Park on Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Detroit will have Francisco Liriano (5-10, 4.54 ERA) starting. The veteran left-hander is 1-0 with a 2.28 ERA in four starts against Kansas City this season. The Royals will start Ian Kennedy (2-8, 4.73), who allowed two runs over six innings in his last start against the Twins.

Tyler Fenwick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.

Detroit Tigers, Christin Stewart

Fulmer undergoes surgery on right knee

Tigers right-hander expected to be back by Spring Training
MLB.com

DETROIT -- Michael Fulmer underwent successful surgery Thursday morning on a torn meniscus in his right knee, the Tigers announced. The right-hander is expected to be ready for Spring Training.

Fulmer had a partial meniscectomy, rather than a full reattachment or reconstruction. It's an arthroscopic surgery in which the damaged part of the meniscus is cleaned up. He also had a chondroplasty, in which the bones around the meniscus are smoothed to promote healing.

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DETROIT -- Michael Fulmer underwent successful surgery Thursday morning on a torn meniscus in his right knee, the Tigers announced. The right-hander is expected to be ready for Spring Training.

Fulmer had a partial meniscectomy, rather than a full reattachment or reconstruction. It's an arthroscopic surgery in which the damaged part of the meniscus is cleaned up. He also had a chondroplasty, in which the bones around the meniscus are smoothed to promote healing.

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"This was a really good outcome for Michael Fulmer, and us," Tigers head athletic trainer Doug Teter said.

Fulmer left his start on Sept. 15 against the Indians without recording an out, and after five pitches, he had allowed two home runs. Manager Ron Gardenhire said Fulmer injured the knee trying to field a bunt.

Dr. James Andrews, who operated on Fulmer's meniscus five years ago, performed this surgery in Pensacola, Fla.

Fulmer will begin rehab back home in Oklahoma, then head to Lakeland, Fla., this offseason, once he's cleared to ramp up activity.

"He's great," Gardenhire said. "He texted me today and was really excited. He says everything is good."

Fulmer had surgery on the same knee in 2013 and missed three months before returning to the mound. Since then, Fulmer won the American League Rookie of the Year Award in '16 and was named an All-Star in '17.

Even when healthy this season, Fulmer experienced setbacks from his early success. His ERA (4.69), WHIP (1.32) and hits allowed per nine innings (8.7) were all career highs.

This will be the second straight offseason for Fulmer to be marred by injury. He had season-ending elbow surgery in September last year and rehabbed through the winter to be ready for Spring Training.

Gardenhire mentioned the possibility of Fulmer having to tweak his delivery in order to reduce the wear and tear on his knee. The right-handed Fulmer uses his right leg to push off the mound.

"We might have to make a mechanical change," Gardenhire said. "We'll see. It's whatever they think. The one thing you don't want to do is make a mechanical change, and it ends up hurting his arm. But dragging that back foot might have to change a little bit."

With Fulmer out, Gardenhire said the Tigers will likely stick with a five-man rotation through the end of the season.

Worth noting
JaCoby Jones has the potential to be a utility man for the Tigers. He's an emergency backup infielder for the rest of the season, but Gardenhire is committed to keeping Jones in the outfield for the long term.

"He's our center fielder," Gardenhire said. "He's a pretty special talent."

The Tigers would like to see Jones develop at the plate and cut back on his strikeouts. Jones is one of eight players in MLB this season to have at least 131 strikeouts in fewer than 400 at-bats.

Blaine Hardy has said he'll train this offseason as though he'll be in the rotation next year, but Gardenhire is leaving the versatile left-hander's future open.

"We'll have to figure that out as we go," Gardenhire said. "I liked him in the rotation, but then again, he got tendinitis in his elbow and had to come out."

Gardenhire also said the free-agent market could determine Hardy's role in 2019. With the Tigers' rotation going through numerous injuries this season, Hardy posted a 4.26 ERA in 13 starts.

Tyler Fenwick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.

Detroit Tigers, Michael Fulmer

V-Mart to be honored pregame Saturday

Tigers acquire pitching prospect from A's to complete Fiers trade
MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- Victor Martinez had to fight back emotions last Saturday in Cleveland, when the Indians held a pregame ceremony honoring him for a 16-year Major League career that began with Cleveland. This weekend is the Tigers' turn to tug at the heartstrings as he plays his final games before retiring at season's end.

The Tigers will honor Martinez on Saturday in a ceremony prior to their 6:10 p.m. ET game against the Royals, celebrating the switch-hitter's seven-year Detroit tenure. Given the recent trend of Martinez being rested on day games after night games, Saturday could well be his final start at Comerica Park.

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DETROIT -- Victor Martinez had to fight back emotions last Saturday in Cleveland, when the Indians held a pregame ceremony honoring him for a 16-year Major League career that began with Cleveland. This weekend is the Tigers' turn to tug at the heartstrings as he plays his final games before retiring at season's end.

The Tigers will honor Martinez on Saturday in a ceremony prior to their 6:10 p.m. ET game against the Royals, celebrating the switch-hitter's seven-year Detroit tenure. Given the recent trend of Martinez being rested on day games after night games, Saturday could well be his final start at Comerica Park.

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Video: DET@CLE: Indians honor Victor Martinez before game

While Ivan Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez will go down as the most significant free-agent signings of the late Mike Ilitch's tenure as Tigers owner, Martinez shouldn't be far behind. Signed after the 2010 season, Martinez was a switch-hitting catcher with a sweet swing whom general manager Dave Dombrowski signed to provide offensive punch to a then-young Tigers lineup.

Martinez became primarily a designated hitter in Detroit, rarely catching after a knee injury in 2011, but his bat endured. He batted .330 with 12 homers and 103 RBIs in his first season in Detroit, helping the Tigers to their first division title in 17 years.

After an offseason knee injury cost Martinez the 2012 season, he came back in 2013 with a .301 average. His power returned in 2014 with 32 homers, 103 RBIs and an AL-best .974 OPS, leading him to a second-place finish in AL MVP voting.

That production in a contract year led to a four-year extension. His numbers have been up and down since, but his .289 average, 27 homers and 86 RBIs as a 37-year-old DH in 2016 helped the Tigers stay in playoff contention until the final day of the regular season.

No Tigers switch-hitter has driven in more runs than Martinez, who entered Wednesday with 539 RBIs as a Tiger. His 1,029 hits as a Tiger entering Wednesday rank third all-time among switch-hitters in Detroit, while his 115 home runs rank second in the group behind Tony Clark.

Video: DET@CWS: Martinez smashes a go-ahead HR in the 9th

Martinez is one of 31 players to record 1,000 hits in a Tiger uniform. He's one of 14 Tigers to homer in his age 39-or-older season.

Tigers acquire right-hander to complete Fiers swap

Minor League right-handed pitcher Logan Shore was acquired from the A's as the second player to be named later to complete the Aug. 6 trade of right-hander Mike Fiers to Oakland. Right-hander Nolan Blackwood was the first player to be named in the deal on Aug. 18.

The 23-year-old Shore, 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, was ranked the No. 14 prospect in the Athletics' Minor League system by MLB Pipeline. He combined to make 17 starts between Single-A Stockton and Double-A Midland this year, posting a 3-6 record with a 4.45 ERA in 91 innings, 74 strikeouts and a 1.36 WHIP.

Originally selected by the A's in the second round of the 2016 Draft out of the University of Florida, Shore has a 5-13 record with a 3.92 ERA in 192 2/3 innings, 182 strikeouts, 1.28 WHIP and .267 opponents batting average in 44 career Minor League appearances, including 41 starts.

Tigers coaches expected back next season

For the first time in four years, the Tigers could keep their entire coaching staff intact going into a new season. Manager Ron Gardenhire said he expects to bring his entire staff back for next year as he prepares for his second season as Tigers manager.

"All my coaches will be back," Gardenhire said. "[General manager] Al [Avila] asked me if that's the way we want it, and I said, 'Absolutely.'"

The stability could be huge for Gardenhire as he prepares to take what he has observed over the course of the season and make points of emphasis for next Spring Training.

"I love this coaching staff," Gardenhire said. "They've worked really hard, and they're good teachers."

Rick Anderson's return as pitching coach is particularly significant. He began the season as bullpen coach before changing roles after Chris Bosio's midseason dismissal. Anderson, who was Gardenhire's pitching coach throughout his Twins tenure, has moved forward with some of Bosio's teachings, while adding some of his own.

"A little change in philosophy, pounding the strike zones, trying to work ahead," Gardenhire said. "That's kind of what we've always talked about, throwing the ball over the plate and getting hitters into bad situations, getting ahead in the count. They've worked at it."

Anderson's long-term investment in the staff became apparent when the Tigers brought in top pitching prospects Matt Manning and Beau Burrows to throw bullpen sessions in front of Anderson after their seasons ended at Double-A Erie.

Jones on call for infield return

While JaCoby Jones started Wednesday's series finale against the Twins in center field, he will also serve as the Tigers' emergency infielder with Jeimer Candelario and Niko Goodrum out with injuries. Jones hasn't played a game in the infield since making his Major League debut in 2016 as a third baseman, but he came up through the Minor Leagues as a shortstop before moving to center field at Triple-A Toledo.

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

Detroit Tigers, Victor Martinez

Youth is served: Tigers' best rookie this season

MLB.com

Each year, a new group of rookies sets out to make a mark in the Major Leagues, and in 2018, many of these young players have made history with their performances. They're fueling clubs during postseason races, as well as giving fans a glimpse of what's to come in the years ahead.

With the aid of all 30 MLB.com beat writers, here's a look at each team's best rookie this season:

Each year, a new group of rookies sets out to make a mark in the Major Leagues, and in 2018, many of these young players have made history with their performances. They're fueling clubs during postseason races, as well as giving fans a glimpse of what's to come in the years ahead.

With the aid of all 30 MLB.com beat writers, here's a look at each team's best rookie this season:

Video: Callis looks at rookies' long-term futures

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays: Ryan Borucki
Borucki has opened his Major League career with quality starts in 10 of his first 15 outings. Even though Borucki did not make his debut until the end of June, he has the third-most starts of at least six innings and two runs or fewer among Major League rookies. Only San Francisco's Dereck Rodriguez has registered more of those starts this season. Borucki appears to be a future cornerstone of the Blue Jays' rotation and his rookie campaign has been an overwhelming success with a 3.86 ERA.

Orioles: Cedric Mullins
It's been a tough year for Baltimore, but Mullins has given O's fans a glimmer of hope in the past two months. Since becoming the first Oriole to record three hits in his debut, the center fielder -- who moved Adam Jones over to right -- has showcased his range and speed and has become a table-setter for a lineup that sorely needs more dynamic players.

Rays: Joey Wendle
Tampa Bay acquired Wendle from Oakland during the Winter Meetings -- the same day the Yankees finalized their acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton. Many found humor in how the Rays "answered" their division foe's acquisition. Wendle has hardly been a joke, though. He's played second base, third base, shortstop, right field and left field. While Wendle's glove has been dazzling as billed, particularly at second, his bat has been equally so. He always seems to be in the middle of rallies. Wendle has above-average speed and runs out every ball, and he's shown decent power. He has been a big reason for Tampa Bay's marked improvement this season.

Red Sox: Brian Johnson
Out of options, Johnson had no option but to become a dependable contributor for the Red Sox this season, and that's exactly what he has done. Though he has unspectacular numbers (4-4, 4.24 ERA), Johnson has been one of the most important members of the pitching staff for manager Alex Cora because of his ability to move seamlessly between the bullpen and starting rotation, and often doing both roles within days of each other. In 12 starts, Johnson is 4-2 with a 4.06 ERA. He could have a few more wins, but he was taken out just shy of five innings numerous times.

Yankees: Miguel Andujar
Nothing was handed to Andujar, who made the most of an early-season opportunity when Brandon Drury landed on the disabled list to grab hold of the third-base job. Andujar's calling card is his bat, and he quickly cemented a reputation as an extra-base hit machine, tallying the third-most extra-base hits by a rookie in Yankees history behind Joe DiMaggio (88) and Aaron Judge (79). The AL Rookie of the Month in June and August, Andujar has worked to polish his defense. With Gleyber Torres also enjoying a strong season, the Yanks have two legitimate choices to follow Judge as the AL Rookie of the Year Award winner.

Video: BOS@NYY: Andujar opens scoring with a solo HR in 2nd

AL CENTRAL

Indians: Shane Bieber
Indians manager Terry Francona jokes that Chris Antonetti, the team's president of baseball operations, did not bring Bieber to MLB camp in the spring because the manager would not have let the pitcher return to the Minors. Bieber, 23, cruised through Double-A and Triple-A, posting a 1.47 ERA with 77 strikeouts vs. seven walks in 79 2/3 innings. When the back of Cleveland's rotation ran into some issues, Bieber rose to the big leagues. He debuted in late May and returned for good in June. The rookie has enjoyed a promising campaign and figures to be a part of the Tribe's postseason pitching staff.

Royals: Brad Keller
Keller, a right-hander, was an absolute steal in the Rule 5 Draft. He started the season in the bullpen and eventually graduated to the rotation, where he has been arguably the Royals' best starter and certainly a top-of-the-rotation guy moving forward. Opposing hitters throughout the season have called facing Keller an "uncomfortable at-bat." His four-seam fastball, which hovers around 93-95 mph, moves like a cutter, and he has worked to develop an effective slider and changeup. During a recent six-game stretch, Keller went 4-1 with a 1.85 ERA, permitting just a .645 OPS. While Keller, 23, likely won't win the AL Rookie of the Year Award -- especially with Shohei Ohtani, Torres and Andujar in the running -- he at least deserves some consideration. Keller is a lock for the rotation in 2019.

Tigers: Niko Goodrum
The Tigers took a chance on the former Twins second-round pick, extending a Spring Training invite in the hopes that his versatility and athleticism would help him stick while learning on the job in the big leagues. Much to their surprise, Goodrum has become essentially an everyday player and a cog in Detroit's lineup, with a .741 OPS that ranks second on the team to Nicholas Castellanos. He has made a start at every defensive position except center field, catcher and pitcher.

Twins: Jake Cave
The Twins took a chance on Cave in March, acquiring him from the Yankees for Minor League right-hander Luis Gil, and Cave has responded with a strong rookie season. The 25-year-old wasn't expected to play much this season, but with center fielder Byron Buxton out most of the year because of injuries and offensive inconsistency, the left-handed-hitting Cave has filled in nicely. He's capable of playing all three outfield positions and has shown some power offensively, hitting .257/.300/.458 with 11 homers and 13 doubles through his first 82 career games.

White Sox: Daniel Palka
The White Sox picked up the left-handed slugger off waivers from the Twins on Nov. 3, 2017. While he didn't break camp with the team, Palka not only leads the White Sox in home runs, but also set a single-season franchise record for most homers from a left-handed-hitting rookie. Palka has a knack for the big hit, having knocked out six home runs in the ninth inning. Left-handed reliever Jace Fry made a solid late-inning rookie impression, but Palka provided the biggest power boost.

Video: CWS@CLE: Palka breaks scoreless tie with HR to center

AL WEST

Angels: Shohei Ohtani
A rocky Spring Training created some questions about how Ohtani's talent would translate to the Majors, but he quickly erased those doubts once the regular season began. For two months, he dazzled as a two-way phenom for the Angels, emerging as a dominant right-handed pitcher with a triple-digit fastball and devastating splitter and an impact left-handed bat with impressive raw power. An elbow injury derailed his magical season and led to a Tommy John surgery recommendation earlier this month, but it hasn't prevented Ohtani from continuing to hit. He is the first player to log 10 pitching appearances and hit 20 home runs in a season since Babe Ruth in 1919, making him a front-runner for the AL Rookie of the Year Award.

Video: SEA@LAA: Ohtani goes back-to-back with Trout for 20th

Astros: Max Stassi
Stassi made his Major League debut during the Astros' 111-loss season of 2013, and he has bounced between the big leagues and Triple-A each season since while maintaining his rookie status. He's spent most of this year as Houston's backup catcher to Brian McCann, and he is hitting .233 with eight homers and 27 RBIs through 85 games. Stassi was on pace to catch more games than McCann, who missed a chunk of time with knee surgery, and Martin Maldonado, who was acquired in a July trade and cost Stassi significant playing time down the stretch.

Athletics: Lou Trivino
Trivino has been an absolute godsend for what's become a deep and dangerous Oakland bullpen, arriving in late April and quickly taking over setup duties behind All-Star closer Blake Treinen with a high-90s fastball and a mid-90s cutter -- a devastating duo. The flamethrowing right-hander singlehandedly bridged the gap for much of the first half before the midseason arrivals of Jeurys Familia, Shawn Kelley and Fernando Rodney, working multiple innings more times than not. Center fielder Ramon Laureano, who has been superb on both sides of the ball since his August promotion, also deserves consideration.

Mariners: Daniel Vogelbach
The 25-year-old first baseman made the Opening Day roster after a huge spring, then was sent down when he struggled at the plate in April. But after putting up good numbers again in Triple-A, Vogelbach has flashed his power potential with a couple of big home runs this week as a September callup, including a game-winning pinch-hit grand slam to beat the Astros on Monday.

Rangers: Ronald Guzman
This is a tossup between Guzman and Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who did a terrific job in a utility role that included time at catcher. But Guzman has emerged as the Rangers' first baseman of the future by showing power, run production and superb defensive ability. There is still more improvement and development needed, but Guzman is among the AL rookie leaders in home runs and RBIs. His emergence also allowed Joey Gallo to take over in left field, which had been a troubled spot for Texas.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Video: STL@ATL: Acuna Jr. belts a solo smash for his 26th HR

Braves: Ronald Acuna Jr.
Acuna has lived up to his top prospect status, as he spent the season's second half producing numbers baseball has seldom seen from a player who has not yet turned 21 years old. He introduced himself to the Majors in April and then suffered a late-May knee injury that sidelined him for a month. But when Acuna was moved to the top of Atlanta's lineup immediately after the All-Star break, the 20-year-old outfielder suddenly became one of the game's top catalysts and power threats. He became a strong NL Rookie of the Year Award candidate and likely earned some down-ballot NL MVP Award consideration.

Marlins: Brian Anderson
Not only has Anderson been the Marlins' top rookie in 2018, he has established himself as one of the young faces of the franchise. He's also built a case to be a top-five finisher in the NL Rookie of the Year Award balloting. On the big league roster from wire to wire, Anderson has played third base and right field. He will lead all NL rookies in games played and hits.

Mets: Jeff McNeil
McNeil was never a top prospect, and when he arrived in the big leagues, he first drew attention for his unusual knobless bat. But since he took over at second base following the Asdrubal Cabrera trade, he's been a revelation at the plate, commanding attention for his outstanding contact ability and all-around hitting prowess. McNeil hasn't slowed down, either -- he leads all rookies in hitting since his July 24 debut, including 17 multihit games in 54 contests, and is second among all players in triples in that span, with five.

Nationals: Juan Soto
Soto wasn't even the Nats' most heralded prospect coming into the year -- that was Victor Robles. But he's hit at an almost unprecedented level for his age, putting himself on lists alongside names like Griffey and Harper. Soto's combination of plate discipline and power marks him as a future star. He's not only a top NL Rookie of the Year Award candidate; he might even get some down-ballot consideration in the crowded NL MVP Award field.

Video: Must C Classic: Soto youngest to swipe 3 bags in game

Phillies: Seranthony Dominguez
One of the reasons the Phillies held first place in the NL East as late as Aug. 12 is Dominguez, who joined Philadelphia's bullpen in May. He posted a 1.85 ERA in 34 appearances through Aug. 3, striking out 49 and walking 13 in 39 innings, becoming manager Gabe Kapler's most trusted weapon with the game on the line. Dominguez struggled down the stretch as the former starter adjusted to a new role, but there is no question NL East batters are not looking forward to facing him in the future.

NL CENTRAL

Brewers: Freddy Peralta
Taylor Williams pitched in more games and Corbin Burnes is playing the most significant role among Brewers rookies down the stretch, but in terms of aggregate value this season, Peralta gets the nod. By making 14 starts, including a history-making 13-strikeout Major League debut on Mother's Day, Peralta helped hold together a starting rotation that was a quiet strength for much of the year despite Jimmy Nelson's year-long absence and significant disabled list time for Zach Davies, Wade Miley and others. Among Major League starters who pitched at least 70 innings, only Chris Sale had a lower opponents' average than Peralta.

Cardinals: Jack Flaherty
With respect to Harrison Bader (3.5 fWAR), Jordan Hicks (105 mph fastball) and Yairo Munoz (.275 average), it's Flaherty who has emerged as the star of St. Louis' loaded rookie crop -- and the Cardinals' new ace. Premature? Not if you consider how the on-the-playoff-bubble Cards manipulated their rotation so Flaherty will be on turn to start their most important game of the year, whether that's the NL Wild Card Game or a must-win during the season's final series. The 22-year-old has earned the responsibility: He ranks among the NL rookie starter leaders in strikeouts (first), starts (second), innings (second), ERA (fourth), wins (first), fWAR (second) and WHIP (third).

Cubs: David Bote
An 18th-round Draft pick in 2012, Bote was pressed into duty when Kris Bryant was injured and has delivered in the clutch. On July 26 against the D-backs, he smacked a game-tying two-run homer with one out in the ninth. On Aug. 12 against the Nationals, Bote delivered a pinch-hit walk-off grand slam in the ninth. That blast helped teach people how to pronounce his last name (it's bow-tee). He hit another walk-off homer on Aug. 24 against the Reds and is the first Cub since Bryant in 2015 with two walk-off homers in one season. Bote has helped support the Cubs' motto to be versatile, starting at second, third, shortstop and in the outfield.

Video: David Bote's heroics vs. the Nationals this season

Pirates: Richard Rodriguez
Far from a household name, the 28-year-old rookie has become a vital part of Pittsburgh's bullpen in his first extended Major League opportunity. Signed as a Minor League free agent, Rodriguez entered the week with a 2.57 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 79 strikeouts in 63 innings over 56 appearances. Rodriguez doesn't possess overwhelming stuff, but he's getting the job done with a 92.9-mph four-seam fastball he throws about 75 percent of the time plus a swing-and-miss slider.

Reds: Jesse Winker
Winker gets the nod despite having his season cut in half by injury. After a slow start, he found his stroke and some power. Overall, Winker batted .299/.405/.431 in 89 games but was slashing .362/.465/.554 in June and July before his year was halted by right shoulder surgery in his non-throwing arm to repair an injury that nagged him even in the Minors. Expected to be fully recovered by Spring Training, the 25-year-old with great plate discipline could be an even bigger offensive threat when fully healthy.

NL WEST

D-backs: Yoshihisa Hirano
While Hirano is technically a rookie as far as Major League Baseball is concerned, he certainly was not inexperienced coming into this season after spending 11 seasons pitching in Japan. The D-backs signed him to a two-year contract during the offseason, and he has more than met their expectations. Used primarily in a setup role through the first five months of the season, Hirano's effectiveness -- along with his unflappable makeup -- eventually got him moved into the de facto closer's role in September.

Dodgers: Walker Buehler
In any year not involving Acuna or Soto, the Dodgers' 24-year-old sensation would likely have been a favorite to win NL Rookie of the Year Award. Since his April recall from the Minor Leagues, Buehler was a steady presence through Clayton Kershaw's extended absence and has since cemented himself beside Los Angeles' ace at the top of the rotation, allowing two or fewer runs in 17 of his 21 starts. With the Dodgers embroiled in a tight divisional race, he has a 1.62 ERA since the start of August, and with his season mark at 2.74, he could become Los Angeles' first rookie starter to post an ERA under 3.00 with at least 20 starts since Hideo Nomo in 1995.

Video: COL@LAD: Buehler K's career-high 12 over 6 frames

Giants: Dereck Rodriguez
The son of Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez is steadily establishing his own identity as a ballplayer as well as his candidacy for a respectable finish in the NL Rookie of the Year Award balloting. The 26-year-old, who converted to pitching from playing the outfield, demonstrated his consistency by pitching at least six innings and allowing two or fewer runs in nine consecutive starts. Despite their losing record overall, the Giants are 9-8 when Rodriguez starts. What makes Rodriguez's story even more remarkable is that he did not pitch above Double-A in Minnesota's farm system last year. San Francisco signed him as a Minor League free agent last November.

Padres: Franmil Reyes
Reyes was left unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft last December after leading all Padres Minor Leaguers in home runs in 2017. Thankfully for San Diego, he went unselected. Reyes' power is otherworldly, and he's made huge strides with his approach at the plate. The hulking 6-foot-5, 275-pounder is still a liability defensively. But he's grown into a legit middle-of-the-order game-changer.

Rockies: Ryan McMahon
Drafted as a third baseman but blocked at the hot corner by one Nolan Arenado, the 23-year-old McMahon made the Opening Day roster with eyes on the starting first-base job, but he was beat out by veteran Ian Desmond. After struggles at the plate and two extended Minor League stints, McMahon's .330 on-base percentage since his July 29 recall is fourth among Rockies. He has also shown a penchant for clutch homers -- four of his five 2018 long balls have come late in close games with Colorado trailing, including a memorable three-run walk-off shot against the Dodgers on Aug. 11.