For Quintin Berry, it was an arduous journey to the big leagues. He climbed up the organizational ladders of the Phillies, Padres and Reds, but never received a chance at the Major League level from those clubs.
When injuries and inconsistent play plagued Detroit's outfield earlier this season, the Tigers called upon Berry and he delivered. On Monday, the Detroit Sports Broadcasters' Association named Berry the Tigers Rookie of the Year.
Detroit signed Berry as a Minor League free agent last November. He burst onto the scene in late May, collecting hits in each of his first six games and 17 total in his first 11 contests. No other Tigers player in the modern era hit safely in his first six Major League games. Overall, the speedster batted .258 with 10 doubles, six triples and 21 stolen bases in 94 tilts.
Upon his Major League arrival, Berry, who turns 28 on Wednesday, filled in admirably for Austin Jackson out of the leadoff spot in manager Jim Leyland's batting order, as he hit .288 in the center fielder's absence. When Jackson returned from an injury in early June, Berry split his time between the No. 2 and No. 9 holes in the lineup. He logged a five-hit game on June 17 and later a trio of three-hit games in a three-week span.
He contributed to the club's run to the World Series as well. Berry tallied a pair of hits and a stolen base in Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the A's. He became the first Tigers player with such marks in a postseason debut since Matty McIntyre in Game 1 of the 1908 World Series.
The Phillies selected Berry in the fifth round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. San Diego claimed him off waivers in July 2010 and the Mets acquired him through the Rule 5 Draft that December. New York released him before he appeared in a game in its system and Berry signed with the Reds in April 2011. After one season spent mostly at Double-A Carolina, Berry became a free agent.
The Tigers pounced on him and he rewarded them.
"He's just been a real pleasant surprise for us," Leyland said earlier this season. "I certainly didn't know much about him, but he's seizing that opportunity and taking advantage of it, and that's what you like to see. Those are great stories, guys that waited a long time to get their chance, get up here and take advantage of it. That's what it's all about."