DETROIT -- J.D. Martinez wasn't a Detroit Tiger when the 2014 season began. A year and a half later, he's the Tiger of the Year. The Detroit chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America honored the slugging outfielder Thursday, selecting him over American League batting champion Miguel Cabrera as his career rise continues.
Martinez received 19 out of 22 first-place votes. Cabrera received two, with the other going to Ian Kinsler.
Martinez, a godsend of a pickup after the Astros released him in Spring Training '14, made his case as one of the best all-around outfielders in the league in '15. His 38 home runs marked the third-highest total by a Tigers outfielder, trailing only Rocky Colavito's 45 in 1961 and Hank Greenberg's 41 in 1940. Martinez's 103 RBIs marked the most by a Tiger since Magglio Ordonez drove in the same number in '08. Not since Dean Palmer in 1999 had a Tiger other than Cabrera posted 38 home runs with 100 RBIs in the same season.
Martinez's .319 total bases ranked fifth among all AL hitters. His 109 Runs Created ranked eighth, and his .897 OPS placed ninth.
Beyond the offensive outburst, however, was a defensive effort that quietly earned Martinez recognition among the best right fielders in the league. His 15 outfield assists ranked second in the AL, while his .993 fielding percentage led all AL right fielders. His Ultimate Zone Rating jumped from minus-1.6 in 2014 to 7.7 this year, second-best among AL right fielders behind fellow finalist Kole Calhoun. His four Defensive Runs Saved marked his first time in positive territory for a season. He finished as a Gold Glove Award finalist, losing out to the Angels' Kole Calhoun.
Martinez marked a second consecutive first-time winner for Tiger of the Year, further breaking up what had been a two-man duel between Cabrera and Justin Verlander from 2008-13. Victor Martinez earned the honor last year.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.