2016 Detroit Tigers
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2016 Detroit Tigers / Franchise: Detroit Tigers / BR Team Page
Managed by Brad Ausmus
History, Comments, Contributions
Not a whole lot was expected of the 2016 Detroit Tigers after they had been terrible over the second half of the 2015 season after having been a pre-season favorite to win a division title. However, that second half slide had been the result of having a number of injuries, and also of making some trades of established stars like David Price and Yoenis Cespedes in order to acquire some prospects, and particularly some young pitching. The Tigers did not go through a full rebuild, however, as they still had plenty of top-rank players around, such as 1B Miguel Cabrera, OF J.D. Martinez, DH Victor Martinez and 2B Ian Kinsler, along with some promising youngsters such as SS Jose Iglesias, C James McCann and 3B Nick Castellanos. On the pitching side, veteran Justin Verlander was still around, although no one knew what to expect after a season full of injuries; same with Anibal Sanchez, who had a history of success when healthy, but no recent history of health. Behind them were some of the youngsters acquired the previous season such as Michael Fulmer, Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd, all unknown quantities at that point, but at least one of them would need to contribute to round out the starting rotation. Another sign that the Tigers were not rebuilding was that they made some significant off-season acquisitions: closer Francisco Rodriguez came via a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers, SP Jordan Zimmermann and LF Justin Upton were both signed as free agents, and CF Cameron Maybin was also acquired in a trade, this one with the Atlanta Braves.
The decision not to blow up the team completely paid some early dividends, as the Tigers played well in April, finishing at 13-10, only 2 games back of first place in the AL East. The undisputed star was Zimmermann who won AL Pitcher of the Month honors by going 5-0 with an ERA of 0.55. May proved to be a lot tougher, though, as the Tigers went through a streak of losing 10 of 11 games from May 3-14, putting them 8 1/2 games behind the division leaders. But just when everyone was about to write off the season, they turned things around by winning 9 of 11. On May 27th, they were back above .500, albeit by one game, but they then proceeded to lose their final four games in May, putting them back in 4th place, 5 games behind. Worse, Zimmermann had gone on the disabled list in the middle of May, then two weeks later, it was J.D. Martinez who got hurt, breaking his hand while crashing into the fence on June 16th. Zimmermann was back after missing two weeks, but he was not himself in June, with an ERA of 6.43, and he went back on the DL at the end of the month. One player did emerge during that period, rookie P Michael Fulmer who put together a stretch of 33 1/3 innings without allowing a run in late May and early June after making his debut on April 29th; at the end of June, he was 7-2, 2.40 and was now the team's number 2 starter behind Verlander. June was less of a roller coaster ride than May had been and Detroit finished the month at 41-38 and in third place. they were in the middle of a six-game winning streak, however, and when it ended on July 3rd, they were now in second place, although still 5 1/2 games back of the Cleveland Indians, who were playing red hot baseball at that point.
Miguel Cabrera was the team's lone representative at the 2016 All-Star Game. The Tigers played .500 ball for the first three weeks of July, then suddenly got hot at the end of the month, as they reeled off 8 straight wins starting on July 25th. The last of these was particularly sweet, as they defeated the Chicago White Sox, 2-1, thanks to an 8th-inning pinch-homer by J.D. Martinez off White Sox ace Chris Sale in his first at-bat after coming off the disabled list. The Tigers were now in the thick of the division race, at 59-48, and only two back of the Indians who had by then started to tread water. At the same time, Verlander was named the AL Pitcher of the Month for July, after going 4-0, 1.69 during the month. The Tigers suffered a double blow on August 6th, when they had to place Zimmermann back on the DL, then 3B Castellanos, who was having the best season of his career thus far, broke his hand when hit by a pitch, putting him out of action as well. The injuries, as well as struggles by the bullpen beginning in mid-August prevented the Tigers from closing the remaining gap with first-place Cleveland, although they remained in the race for the postseason.
Awards and Honors
- All-Star: Miguel Cabrera
- AL Rookie of the Year Award: Michael Fulmer
- AL Gold Glove: Ian Kinsler (2B)
- AL Silver Slugger Award: Miguel Cabrera (1B)
- Jason Beck: "Tigers claw back in '16, fall short of playoffs: Fulmer's AL ROY Award, Verlander's resurgence among highlights", mlb.com, December 28, 2016. 
- George Sipple: "Detroit Tigers' Brad Ausmus sticking with his struggling relievers", The Detroit Free Press, September 8, 2016.