Rarely does a team have multiple rookies who have a legitimate claim for Rookie of the Year. But the young Tigers have a trio of green-eared players who could get votes for that award in 2021.
Can any of these Tiger players win the Rookie of the Year Award?
The Ace: Casey Mize
Floppy-haired Casey Mize has established himself as the ace of the Detroit staff, with a glimmering mark of consistency in his first full season. He has a 3.55 ERA and has pitched 11 quality starts this year. The righty has ten starts where he’s allowed one or zero runs, the most by a Detroit pitcher since 2016.
Mize is poised on the mound and he commands three pitches well enough to frustrate enemy batters: a fastball, slider, and curve. The Tigers have the 24-year old on an innings restriction: he’s never pitched as many as 130 innings in a season. He’ll probably make 6-7 more starts in ’21, and given the kid gloves the team is using on him, he might get to 165 IP. If he can lower his ERA he could inch his way into the discussion for the award, but with Luis Garcia outperforming him in Houston, it will be tough to emerge as the best rookie pitcher in the loop.
Mize has a 3.0 WAR (and counting), and has an excellent chance of becoming just the sixth Detroit hurler to reach 4 WAR in their rookie season since 1945. The others are Mark Fidrych, Dave Rozema, Justin Verlander, Armando Galarraga, and Michael Fullmer.
The Veteran Rookie Catcher: Eric Haase
Spoiler alert: while I call one of his teammates the best rookie story of 2021 below, Eric Haase has a pretty amazing story too.
Haase was drafted in 2011 out of Dearborn Divine Child High School in Michigan, but he was never a sexy MLB prospect. He spent a decade as a minor leaguer, and in spring training last February the Tigers thought so little of his catching abilities that they asked him to learn how to play another position. But after being summoned from Toledo in May, he’s been entrenched in the lineup pretty much. He was named AL Rookie of the Month for July, and even though he missed most of August with an abdominal strain, only three rookies in the AL have more homers than Haase’s 19, and none of them are catchers.
After winning the Rookie of the Month honor (the first by a Tiger since 2010), Haase went viral when his wife shared a video of the Detroit catcher mowing his lawn after he heard the news.
If Haase is healthy on his return to the lineup and he can get to 30 HR, he could get himself into the ROY conversation.
The Best Story: Akil Baddoo
By now, most Tigers fans know about Akil Baddoo’s heartwarming arrival on Opening Day when he made his MLB debut call and hit a home run in his first at-bat with his mom and dad in the stands at Comerica Park. Baddoo hit a grand slam the next day to further cement his legend.
Baddoo was snatched from the Twins, who left him unprotected in spring training. He’s only 22 and was once considered a good outfield prospect, but an injury cast doubt on his baseball future. He was barely on anyone’s radar in spring camp but he impressed A.J. Hinch and made the team. He brings speed and some pop from the left side of the plate. He has a sort of poor man’s Curtis Granderson feel to him.
FanDuel has Baddoo listed above both Mize and Haase as a ROY candidate, even though he’s cooled in recent weeks. He leads the AL in triples, and if he can hold that and also get his HR total up near 20, he could finish in the top three for the award.
American League Rookie of the Year Odds (FanDuel)
|Randy Arozarena||Rays||LF||3.0||16 HR, 131 OPS+||+125|
|Adolis Garcia||Rangers||CF||3.1||27 HR, 71 RBI, .482 SLG||+350|
|Luis Garcia||Astros||SP||2.4||10-6, 3.21 ERA||+450|
|Andrew Vaughn||White Sox||LF||1.5||15 HR, 113 OPS+||+1000|
|Eric Haase||Tigers||C||2.2||19 HR, .512 SLG, 121 OPS+||+1100|
|Akil Baddoo||Tigers||CF||1.4||10 HR, leads AL in triples||+1400|
|Ryan Mountcastle||Orioles||1B||0.7||23 HR, .495 SLG, 117 OPS+||+2000|
|Casey Mize||Tigers||SP||3.0||7-6, 3.55 ERA. CG||+5000|
Which Detroit Tigers Have Won the Rookie of the Year Award?
- Harvey Kuenn, 1953
- Mark Fidrych, 1976
- Lou Whitaker, 1978
- Justin Verlander, 2006
- Michael Fulmer, 2016