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2006 SBN Awards: Rookie of the Year

Introduction

Recently, we here at all of the SportsBlogs Nation baseball blogs voted for the very first time in the network end-of-season awards for baseball. The idea was brought up in August or September to have an awards series where each team's blog would be given two ballots, and the bloggers would, on these ballots, cast their choices for the awards that the BBWAA gives out at the end of every year, MVP, Cy Young, ROY, and MOY. We didn't do the Gold Gloves or Silver Sluggers, because that would have been too complicated, but the four core award categories were voted upon in late September and early October by the network bloggers, before the start of baseball's playoffs. Each voter was given three choices for ROY, MOY, and Cy Young, and ten for the MVP, and based on how they ranked their choices for those categories, the player or manager would receive a the number of points exactly opposite how they were ranked on that scale. For example, if you put Derek Jeter number one on the ballot, that would count as ten points for him. Just the same, a 10th place vote would count as one point.

Jacob and I represented DRaysBay in these highly successful first awards, casting our ballots for the AL choices. The overlying rule was that AL Bloggers cast ballots for AL choices; NL bloggers did so for NL choices. Once the votes were tabulated, the results were released internally, at which point the individual sites could decide when to publish the results. I chose later than most, because I wanted to compare my choices and Jacob's, as well as the network's, to the actual award winners. And starting now allows me to get the actual choices in the same piece. This piece will run as part of a series (famous last words from me, I know), that will include all four SBN awards categories and their results. The last part of the series, which runs through Tuesday, will be devoted to our own awards here at the Bay, the DRaysBay Awards. I hope you enjoy the work of SBN's collective brain trust, and special thanks must go out to Martin Gandy of Talking Chop, who organized the whole thing, kept on us about getting our votes in, and tabulated the results. He really was excellent through the whole process.

A bit of a note on the scheduling. Because the MVP awards are being released later than I originally thought when planning this series, the SBN MVP Awards will be unveiled on Tuesday, November 21st, the same day as the AL MVP is released. The NL MVP award will be released on Monday. The SBN Cy Young Award results will come tomorrow, and the DRB awards are still scheduled for Sunday, however to coincide with the release of the MVP, the final installment of the series has been delayed.

Series
Yesterday-Manager of the Year
Today-Rookie of the Year
Tomorrow-Cy Young Award
Sunday-DRB Awards
Tuesday-MVP Award

Rookie of the Year

Justin Verlander of the AL champion Detroit Tigers ran away with the 2006 SBN Rookie of the Year award for the American League, while his counterpart in the National League, Hanley Ramirez, had a tougher go of it. Ramirez, of the Marlins, and Zimmerman, of the Nationals, were separated by only two total points in the final vote. Dan Uggla, also of the Marlins, finished a distant third in the voting.

Verlander meanwhile had no challenge in the American League, as he blew away challengers Francisco Liriano and Jon Papelbon to win the award. Liriano and Papelbon were statistically tied in the American League voting across all categories, with each getting the same number of first, second, and third place votes on the same number of ballots. Verlander however, an anchor on Detroit's AL pennant-winning rotation, rode the center, a compromise choice between those who felt Papelbon tailed off at the end of the year, and as a bullpen pitcher, wasn't too impressive, and Liriano, who missed much of the year with injury.

Award Picks
Jacob (AL)-Justin Verlander, DET
Patrick (AL)-Francisco Liriano, MIN
SBN AL-Justin Verlander, DET
SBN NL-Hanley Ramirez, FLA
BBWAA AL-Justin Verlander, DET
BBWAA NL-Hanley Ramirez, FLA

For more on the MVP choices, the SBN voting, and expanded comments on the winners from Jacob and myself, please follow the jump.

SBN Postseason Awards Winners
SBN AL BBWAA AL Patrick (AL) Jake (AL) SBN NL BBWAA NL
Manager of the Year Jim Leyland DET Jim Leyland DET Jim Leyland DET Jim Leyland DET Joe Girardi FLA Joe Girardi FLA
Rookie of the Year Justin Verlander DET Justin Verlander DET Francisco Liriano MIN Justin Verlander DET Hanley Ramirez FLA Hanley Ramirez FLA
Cy Young Award Saturday Johan Santana MIN Saturday Saturday Saturday Brandon Webb AZ
MVP Award Tuesday Tuesday Tuesday Tuesday Tuesday Monday

AL Rookie of the Year

Justin Verlander burst onto the scene in 2006 with his mid-90s heat, combining with the rest of the (mostly young) pitching staff to lead Detroit to the wild card in the American League, as well as the American League championship. For his efforts, he was rewarded by the baseball bloggers at SBN with our Rookie of the Year Award, nearly doubling the point total of the two runners-up, Jon Papelbon of the Red Sox and Francisco Liriano of the Twins.

Coming into the season, Verlander was regarded as a top pitching prospect; an intriguing pitcher whom many baseball fans thought would be an interesting pitcher to watch on a team that would otherwise be dull. He was even a preseason favorite for Rookie of the Year, an award which he was not assured of coming into the year on account of the fact that he wasn't even likely to make the rotation coming into spring training! Still, Verlander worked all spring in Lakeland and impressed manager Jim Leyland and his staff so much that they bestowed a spot in the regular season rotation upon him at the end of camp. Verlander did not disappoint. With a fastball that sat in the mid-90s and some nasty complementary pitches, Verlander was an instant hit in the American League. In 32 starts, Verlander was one of the key pillars whom Detroit relied upon in their run to the pennant. He helped Detroit get off to a fast start that saw them hold the best record in the AL until late August, and even then he helped pitch the Tigers into the playoffs as a wild card team. Verlander won 17 games and put up a 3.63 ERA over the course of the season, but impressing perhaps even more with his control. While Verlander never became the strikeout machine that could have been expected of him, he adjusted to put up a 2.90 BB/9, thereby not putting himself in a hole by his own doing. The best part about this for Tigers fans is that Verlander will only get better. His stuff dictates that the strikeout rate of 2006 will not remain that low for future years, and the control he exhibited is an added bonus. Verlander captures the Rookie of the Year Award this year, but look for him to graduate to even higher acclaim over the years as one of baseball's best young pitchers.

While Verlander ran away in the balloting, getting mention on 16 of 18 ballots with 11 first place votes and 66 total points, the race for his runner-up was not as close. Red Sox closer Jon Papelbon tied Twins starter Francisco Liriano for second place, with each player being mentioned on the same number of ballots in the same positions. It was a tough race for runner-up, but Verlander pulled easily ahead. It was a weak year for hitters in the AL, as the top three slots in the balloting, plus the fourth position in Angels pitcher Jered Weaver, all went to rookie pitchers. The hitters were stuck at the bottom of the ballot, as Kenji Johjima (Mariners), Esteban (Royals), and Howie Kendrick (Angels) rounded out the rankings.

Jacob Says-Verlander was the most consistent pitcher of the choices and lasted the entire season (which Liriano couldn't do and Weaver didn't pitch enough to match).

Patrick Says-It is rare for a player who spent the first fourth of the season in the minor leagues to capture any award. Rarer still is a player who missed the last fourth of the season and the first fourth of the season, both in the same year, to capture an award. However rarer than both circumstances was the level of dominance that Francisco Liriano exhibited this season. Although he only threw 121 innings, Liriano dominated, posting a 2.16 ERA, 10.71 K/9, and a 2.38 BB/9. That type of domination is just too much to overlook for me in giving my award vote to the (now injured) young lefty.

SBN Rookie of the Year Voting-AL
Player First Place Votes # of Ballots On Total Points
Justin Verlander, DET 11 16 66
Jon Papelbon, BOS 3 13 35
Francisco Liriano, MIN 3 13 35
Jared Weaver, ANA 0 8 14
Kenji Johjima, SEA 1 2 8
Esteban German, KC 0 1 3
Howie Kendrick, ANA 0 1 1
18 Total Ballots Cast

NL Rookie of the Year

After five the twelve players who got votes for NL ROY were Florida Marlins and Joe Girardi captured the NL MOY yesterday, it was only natural that a member of the Marlins captured the NL ROY award in the voting, however it sure wasn't a sure thing. Hanley Ramirez eeked out a win over Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman in the NL blogger voting for ROY. His teammate Dan Uggla finished a distant third. Still, while Ramirez's win was not decisive, it was certainly deserved.

Ramirez was among the slew of young talent acquired in the offseason, coming over in the Josh Beckett trade from the Boston organization. With Beckett struggling this year, just one component of that trade seems to have paid for the whole thing, so far. Ramirez was the starting shortstop on the surprising Marlins squad that, with a $15 million payroll, surprisingly bonded and was in the wild card hunt until mid-September. A big part of that surprising success is due to Ramirez, who played in all but four games and accumulated 700 PA for Florida. Ramirez hit .292/.353/.480 on the season for the Marlins in playing half of his games in one of the major league's worst parks for hitters. His stellar defense helped the Marlins pitching staff breath a sigh of relief when balls were hit to the six hole, and the runs he saved in fielding balls at short was one of the aspects of his game that Florida would have been much worse without. While you can argue your case for Ryan Zimmerman, and you may be correct in doing so, Ramirez's excellence in just his first year cannot be disputed, and that is why he was (barely) anointed the winner.

Finishing in second place, as mentioned before, was Zimmerman, who got 72 total points as compared with 74 for Ramirez. Ramirez's DP partner, Dan Uggla, got 41 points and finished in third. A slew of other players received varying degrees of support among the NL bloggers. They included Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez (Marlins), Cla Meredith (Padres), Prince Fielder (Brewers), Takashi Saito (Dodgers), Josh Willingham (Marlins), Josh Barfield (then-Padres), Matt Cain (Giants), and Andre Ethier (Dodgers). Marlins players consumed five of the twelve voted-upon players in balloting.

SBN Rookie of the Year Voting-NL
Player First Place Votes # of Ballots On Total Points
Hanley Ramirez, FLA 9 22 74
Ryan Zimmerman, WSH 11 18 72
Dan Uggla, FLA 3 17 41
Josh Johnson, FLA 2 6 18
Anibal Sanchez, FLA 1 6 12
Cla Meredith, SD 2 2 10
Prince Fielder, MIL 0 3 7
Takashi Saito, LA 0 3 7
Josh Willingham, FLA 0 2 4
Josh Barfield, SD 0 2 4
Matt Cain, SF 0 2 2
Andre Ethier, LA 0 1 1
28 Total Ballots Cast