Tigers' Verlander, Marlins' Ramirez claim rookie honors
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
NEW YORK -- Hanley Ramirez of the Florida Marlins won a tight race for NL Rookie of the Year, and Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander took home the AL award Monday.
Ramirez beat out Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman by four points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America -- the closest NL vote since the current format was adopted 26 years ago. The speedy shortstop got 14 of 30 first-place votes and finished with 105 points. Zimmerman received 10 first-place votes and totaled 101 points.
Three of the top four NL finishers were Marlins. Second baseman Dan Uggla came in third, getting the other six first-place votes, and pitcher Josh Johnson was fourth.
One of the first congratulatory calls Ramirez got was from Uggla, his double-play partner and good friend.
"I'm so happy," Ramirez said. "I want to thank each one of my teammates, because every day they gave me the energy to play in the big leagues."
Verlander easily won the AL honor after his closest competitors in a race dominated by pitchers were sidelined late in the season because of injuries. The hard-throwing right-hander, who helped the surprising Tigers reach the World Series, was listed first on 26 of 28 ballots for a total of 133 points.
Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon came in second with 63 points, and Minnesota lefty Francisco Liriano finished third.
"I was pretty excited. I was actually outside washing the car. I totally forgot that today was the day it was announced," Verlander said. "It was pretty fun just to be a part of this rookie class."
The 23-year-old Verlander, who went 17-9 with a 3.63 ERA, became the first starting pitcher to win AL Rookie of the Year since Dave Righetti of the New York Yankees in 1981. The last Tigers player to receive the honor was second baseman Lou Whitaker in 1978.
"It's a nice tribute to him and his teammates," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "Usually when you accomplish something like this, it's a combination of earning it with your play and with teammates making contributions. Winning usually helps, too."
Ramirez gave the Marlins their second Rookie of the Year in four years, joining ace pitcher Dontrelle Willis.
The 22-year-old Ramirez, acquired from Boston last November in a deal for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell, batted .292 with 17 homers, 59 RBIs, 119 runs and 51 stolen bases. Ramirez also hit 46 doubles and 11 triples.
Voters select their top three choices and points are tabulated on a 5-3-1 basis. Before 1980, writers voted for just one rookie.
Zimmerman, who actually appeared on more ballots than Ramirez (29-27), hit .287 with 20 homers, 110 RBIs and 47 doubles. He also played strong defense at third base.
"To tell you the truth, you can't be disappointed, because you had a great year," Zimmerman said. "I knew it was going to be a really close vote, and that made it kind of easier. It was a tough year to be a rookie, because there were so many good ones."
Previously, the closest NL election was in 1982 when Steve Sax of the Los Angeles Dodgers edged fellow second baseman Johnny Ray of Pittsburgh 63-57.
Six Marlins received votes, the most for one team on a rookie ballot. Pitchers Scott Olsen and Anibal Sanchez were also mentioned, along with outfielder Josh Willingham.
"Nobody was talking about winning Rookie of the Year in the clubhouse," Ramirez said. "No egos."
Other winners from Detroit were pitcher Mark Fidrych in 1976 and shortstop Harvey Kuenn in 1953.
AP Sports Writers Larry Lage in Detroit, Howard Fendrich in Washington and Steve Wine in Miami contributed to this report.