Ausmus, 44, played with the Tigers in 1996 and the 1999-2000 seasons as part of an 18 year Major League career. He was most recently a special assistant with the San Diego Padres.
He has no managerial experience, either in the big leagues or the minors, but that was no barrier, according to Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski.
"Anyone I talked to or our people talked to, any time Brad's name came up, they were effusive with praise," Dombrowski told reporters at a news conference.
"It kept coming back that this guy was born to manage many years ago ... extremely intelligent and yet could communicate with everyone.
"Frankly, when we interviewed, we were taken aback at how impressive he was."
"I'm well aware that you don't generally get dropped into a situation like I will be this coming season, with a team like the Detroit Tigers have," Ausmus said.
"Very rarely is there a managerial change where a team is coming off a postseason appearance or an ALCS appearance."
Leyland, 68, stepped down last month after eight seasons as the manager having led the Tigers to a third straight AL Central Division title.
They lost the AL championship series 4-2 to the Boston Red Sox.
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina, editing by Nick Mulvenney)
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