Last week, we here at umpbump gave you our hard-hitting MVP picks, so this week, we’ve decided to unveil our picks for NL and AL Rookie of the Year picks. I’ll get things started today, with picks from Alejandro, Coley, and Sarah to follow over the weekend.
3. Ryan Zimmerman (.289/.354/.475, 20 HR, 109 RBI)
2. Hanley Ramirez (.292/.353/.481, 17 HR, 51 SB)
1. Josh Willingham (.277/.358/.494, 25 HR, 78 RBI)
I’m as surprised as anyone that I ended up picking two Florida Marlins as my top two picks. The Rookie of the Year race in the NL this year was bursting with potential contenders, and it was up and down all year, and I really thought someone like Andre Either, Prince Fielder, or Ryan Zimmerman would come out on top, but now here we are with four games left to play, and it seems clear that Josh Willingham was the best young rookie on the Senior Circuit in 2006.
True, Zimmerman’s RBI total is impressive, but as we know, RBI is the mainstream stat least indicative of a player’s actual performance. Meanwhile, Willingham bested Zimmerman in both OBP and SLG, and hit five more homers than Zimmerman in more than 100 fewer at bats.
Hanley Ramirez proved he is a complete player this season, showing the ability to hit for average and power, and steal loads of bases, but Ramirez’s totals were bolstered by the numerous extra at bats he had as a leadoff batter. Meanwhile, Willingham showed the killer combination of both power and patience at the plate, leading all batting-title qualified rookies in OPS and establishing himself as a legitimate heart-of-the-order threat down the stretch for the Marlins.
3. Kenji Johjima (.291/.334/.455, 18 HR, 76 RBI)
2. Jonathan Papelbon (35 SV, 0.92 ERA, 75K/68.1IP)
1. Justin Verlander (17-9, 3.63 ERA, 186 IP)
Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis and Mariners catcher Kenji Johjima put up remarkably similar numbers in this year, but Johjima gets the nod for third place because he plays catcher.
Jonathan Papelbon was an absolute revelation as the closer for the Red Sox in the first half of the season, but faded down the stretch and ultimately had to be shelved due to an impingement in his shoulder. Still, his first half performance was so dazzling, it was enough to earn him second place on my ROY ballot.
The clear winner in the American League has to be Justin Verlander. Not only did he provide nearly 200 IP and 17 wins to his team, but he also served as de facto staff ace for much of the year when Kenny Rogers was struggling, and helped lead the Tigers to their first pennant since god knows when. Basically he pitched like a Cy Young candidate in his rookie season.
It’s too bad Francisco Liriano got hurt and the Angels ridiculously sent Jared Weaver down to the minors for five starts. Otherwise, the AL top three would have almost certainly been all starting pitchers.