DETROIT -- One year after Spencer Torkelson was struggling to stick in the Majors, the former top overall pick slugged his way to the Tiger of the Year award, winning the honor in a runaway vote from members of the Detroit chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
It’s an honor that further solidifies his place in the core of the Tigers’ roster as Detroit tries to jump back into contention in the American League Central.
Torkelson was at the center of the Tigers’ second-half resurgence, slugging 19 of his team-leading 31 home runs after the All-Star break. He ranked eighth among AL hitters in homers, and produced the first 30-homer season by a Tiger since Miguel Cabrera and Justin Upton in 2016. Torkelson’s 34 doubles, 88 runs scored and 94 RBIs also led the team.
Torkelson became the only player in Tigers history to post at least 30 homers, 30 doubles and 90 RBIs in his age-23 season.
Torkelson didn’t rank quite as high in metrics – his 105 OPS+ trailed teammates and good friends Kerry Carpenter and Riley Greene (last season’s Tiger of the Year), while his 0.8 bWAR ranked outside the top 10 due largely to defensive ratings – but his everyday production was a reminder of the importance of consistency. Torkelson’s 159 games played easily topped the club; Zach McKinstry (148) was the only other Tigers position player to top 140 games played.
Torkelson received 15 of 26 first-place votes. Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez finished second with four first-place votes after posting a 13-9 record and 3.30 ERA in a team-high 26 starts. Carpenter, catcher Jake Rogers and left-hander Tarik Skubal also received votes.
The Detroit chapter of the BBWAA has selected a Tiger of the Year annually since 1965. Torkelson joins a prestigious list of sluggers to win the award, including Cabrera, Upton, Magglio Ordonez, Pudge Rodriguez, Tony Clark, Kirk Gibson, Cecil Fielder, Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell, Lance Parrish, Steve Kemp, Willie Horton, Al Kaline and Bill Freehan.
The other major local Tigers honor came earlier this week, when reliever Tyler Holton was named Tigers Rookie of the Year by members of Detroit Sports Media, formerly the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association. The 27-year-old southpaw, a waiver claim from the D-backs at the start of Spring Training, became a key cog in Detroit’s bullpen with a 3-2 record, one save and a 2.11 ERA in 59 appearances. He allowed just 56 hits over 85 1/3 innings with 18 walks and 74 strikeouts, and eventually became manager A.J. Hinch’s lefty reliever of choice.