Detroit Tigers: Michael Fulmer Named American League Rookie of the Year

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Michael Fulmer was named the American League Rookie of the Year for the 2016 season. Major League Baseball’s official Twitter account tweeted the news Monday.

Detroit Tigers fans previously saw Justin Verlander win the American League Rookie of the Year award in 2006. Now, Michael Fulmer has joined Verlander as Detroit pitchers to win the award in the last decade.

The rookie starter beat out Cleveland center fielder Tyler Naquin and New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez for the award, handed out by the Baseball Writer’s Association of America.

Major League Baseball’s official Twitter account announced the move, tweeting, “The @officialBBWAA 2016 AL Rookie of the Year: @tigers RHP Michael Fulmer.”

Fulmer is the first pitcher in the American League to win the award since former Tiger Neftali Feliz took home the hardware in 2010 as a member of the Texas Rangers.

The award has largely been dominated by position players. Fulmer, Feliz, Andrew Bailey, Verlander and Huston Street are the only recipients of the honor to earn it on the mound.

2016 in Review

Fulmer was simply dominant in his first season in the Major League. Pitching like more of an established veteran than a rookie, the former Mets farmhand notched a 3.06 ERA and a 3.76 FIP in 159 innings. He won 11 games while registering a 3.0 WAR.

The starter also posted a 10.4 swinging strike percentage and 7.47 strikeouts per nine innings.

After punching out nine batters per nine frames in the minors during 2015, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Fulmer’s strikeout stats rise in 2017.

Winning the Trade

Fulmer ultimately made his Major League debut in 2016 after spending just three starts in Toledo to begin the season.

Before that, he’d spend the 2015 campaign between Detroit and New York’s respective Double-A affiliates.

The Tigers acquired Fulmer and fellow pitching prospect Luis Cessa from the Mets for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

Cessa was later traded back to the Big Apple just a few months later, this time to the Yankees, in a deal for Justin Wilson.

Future of the Rotation

Thanks to his tremendous 2016 season, Fulmer has firmly established himself as Verlander’s long-term successor atop the rotation.

After a down season in 2015, the franchise is suddenly well-stocked with exciting pitching talent. In addition to Fulmer, Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd both excelled in their first full seasons in the Major Leagues.

What’s more, the Tigers have some extremely promising pitching prospects developing in the minor leagues. Recent first-round pick Matt Manning could eventually join Fulmer atop the rotation, while fellow first-round Beau Burrows is another name to watch.

Kyle Funkhouser, a first-round talent that fell to Detroit in the fourth round of the 2016 draft, is another pitcher with the potential to be a front-line starter.

What’s more, Tyler Alexander, Spencer Turnbull, Sandy Baez and Artie Lewicki are other starters who have the upside to succeed as Major League starters.

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