Monday, November 13, 2006

AL Rookie of the Year

Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander has won the American League Rookie of the Year award.
Justin Verlander was already considered the best rookie in the American League according to two separate polls of players. On Monday, however, was the most prestigious honor of all.
Verlander completed a clean sweep of his league's rookie awards when the Baseball Writers' Association of America selected him as its AL Rookie of the Year. The longest-running of the rookie honors goes to a Tiger for the first time since Lou Whitaker won it in 1978, and the first to a Detroit pitcher since Mark "The Bird" Fidrych in 1976.

In so doing, Verlander becomes the first starting pitcher to win AL Rookie of the Year since New York's Dave Righetti in 1981. Dontrelle Willis won the NL honor in 2003.

The 23-year-old right-hander again won out in what was expected to be a tight contest among AL rookie pitchers, including Twins phenom Francisco Liriano and Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. Of that group, Verlander is the only one to last the entire season without missing significant time due to injury or fatigue.

Verlander received 26 first-place votes and 133 total points, easily outdistancing Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon, who tallied 63 points and no first-place votes. Twins rookie Francisco Liriano was third in the voting with 30 points and one first-place vote. Seattle catcher Kenji Johjima was fourth, followed by Angels pitcher Jered Weaver, the Orioles' Nick Markakis and Ian Kinsler of the Rangers.

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