MLB Rookie of the Year 2013: AL and NL Winners, Voting Results and Analysis

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MLB Rookie of the Year 2013: AL and NL Winners, Voting Results and Analysis
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Major League Baseball's Rookie of the Year awards are heading to Florida. Starting pitcher Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins and outfielder Wil Myers of the Tampa Bay Rays were the recipients of the NL and AL awards, respectively, in a ceremony broadcast on MLB Network Monday evening.

Voted on by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, the Rookie of the Year award is the first of the major individual honors divvied up this offseason. The respective MVPs, Cy Youngs and Managers of the Year will each be named throughout the remainder of the week.

While the 2013 class may have paled in comparison to the historic runs of Bryce Harper and Mike Trout last season, it was hardly a shrug-worthy crop.

Fernandez's season-long excellence on the mound beat out the meteoric rise of Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and dependable Cardinals righty Shelby Miller. Myers' prowess at the plate helped him edge out teammate Chris Archer, who was at times the Rays' most reliable rotation member, and defensive sensation Jose Iglesias, the player Boston gave up to acquire Jake Peavy.

While neither vote proved particularly suspenseful—Myers and Fernandez were both considered far and away the favorites, and the voting reflected that—each of the nominees has to feel they performed well enough to win in other seasons. Here is a look at how the voting played out. 

 

Wil Myers Wins 2013 AL Rookie of the Year

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2013 AL Rookie of the Year Voting Results
Player First-Place Votes Second-Place Votes Third-Place Votes Total Points
Wil Myers (OF, Tampa Bay Rays) 23 5 1 131
Jose Iglesias (SS, Detroit Tigers) 5 17 4 80
Chris Archer (SP, Tampa Bay Rays) 1 5 15 35

MLB Network Broadcast

If the past two years have taught us anything, it's that minor league systems have gotten better at evaluating talent. Either that, or we're on the precipice of a superstar renaissance in baseball the same way the 2003 draft class reinvigorated the NBA.

Myers, whom many considered the best minor league hitter on the planet coming into 2013 and the key cog to the James Shields trade with the Royals, proved every bit as formidable as expected. The 22-year-old North Carolina native didn't get the call-up until June 18—which Tampa designed to make sure he avoided Super Two status, pushing his arbitration clock back a year—but made up for lost time.

Myers hit .293/.354/.478 with 13 home runs and 53 RBI in just 88 games played—the fewest ever for an AL position player. He atoned for a less-than-stellar start to his career by getting red-hot when the Rays needed him most, hitting .308 with four home runs and 14 RBI in September. That run proved critical for Tampa Bay, which needed a 163rd regular-season game to clinch the second wild-card spot in the American League. The Rays were 36-33 when Myers was called up and played 18 games above .500 the rest of the way.

"I can't thank the fans enough and my teammates for just supporting me everyday," Myers said. "It's a huge honor to win this, and I'm very excited about it."

A 2.4-WAR player with 75 games left on the table, it was hard to vote against Myers—even though Archer's consistency arguably played just as big a factor.

After slowly working his way through the minor leagues—Archer was drafted by the Cleveland Indians all the way back in 2006—he developed into the latest top-tier talent in a stable full of them for Tampa. Archer made his 2013 debut a couple of weeks before Myers, allowing five runs over four innings against his former club.

It would take another 13 starts for an opponent to score five earned runs or more against him. Archer, despite getting less-than-ideal run support, compiled a 9-7 record with a 1.13 WHIP while striking out 101 batters in 128.2 innings pitched. He finished second on the team only behind Alex Cobb in ERA and behind David Price in WHIP, though the underlying numbers make it clear he got a little bit lucky.

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The same cannot be said for Iglesias, who should soon develop into one of baseball's best defensive shortstops. Though he played third base in Boston more often than shortstop and had to make a midseason transition to Detroit, the flashes of his talent were there. Iglesias committed only six errors while hitting .303/.349/.386 with three home runs and 29 RBI, a surprisingly stellar run for a guy who most considered an average bat.

But both Iglesias and Archer fall short of Myers' excellence. He played a solid right field, hit for power and average and made good on his hype. Now, if he could just get those postseason numbers under control.

 

Jose Fernandez Wins 2013 NL Rookie of the Year

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

2013 NL Rookie of the Year Voting Results
Player First-Place Votes Second-Place Votes Third-Place Votes Total Points
Jose Fernandez (SP, Miami Marlins) 26 4 0 142
Yasiel Puig (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers) 4 25 0 95
Shelby Miller (SP, St. Louis Cardinals) 0 0 9 12

MLB Network Broadcast

There is only one possible justification for someone voting Puig over Fernandez: narrative. When the Dodgers called Puig up from the minors on June 3, they were 23-32, 8.5 games back in the NL West and a desperate team grasping at straws. The hubbub at the time was about this high-priced roster crashing faster than Facebook stock.

By now, we all know Puig's call-up coincided with a resurgence. As "Puigmania" captured a nation's attention and the Dodgers came roaring back, it seemed like we were watching the birth of this generation's Manny Ramirez—a fun-loving, frustrating, confounding slugger who polarizes fans and media alike.

The Dodgers wound up winning the West with Ease. Puig, though he slowed down, finished as a 4.0-WAR player while hitting .319/.391/.534 with 19 home runs and 42 RBI. Puig also succeeded in cultivating the type of following that would usually befit postseason honors.

Except...Fernandez. All the Marlins righty did, while languishing on a team bereft of big-league talent, was go 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA and 0.98 WHIP while striking out 187 over 172.2 innings. That came despite the Marlins scoring just 3.71 runs per Fernandez start. Eleven times in his 28 starts, Fernandez threw at least five innings while giving up two or fewer runs, only to get the loss or a no-decision. 

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Mixing a high-90s fastball with a hard-breaking curve, Fernandez looked like the type of power pitcher a club can build on. He struck out just under 10 batters per nine innings, had a strand rate near 80 percent and only got minimally lucky; his 2.73 FIP was the sixth best in all of baseball. Playing on a Miami team that went just 62-100, Fernandez was the only pitcher on the staff who had more than five wins.

"[Winning] means everything," Fernandez said, admitting he was feeling nerves while flanked by his mother and grandmother, who traveled from Cuba from the announcement. 

To put it another way: Fernandez was so good that most folks forgot about Miller in this process, and all the Cardinals righty did was go 15-9 with a 3.06 ERA and 1.21 WHIP on a team that tied for the best record in baseball. Miller grades out nearly as well with his left-on-base rate and was just under a strikeout per inning this season, numbers that in a normal year would make him a no-brainer winner.

But the National League cast of characters was just too stacked. Puig's rise was almost transcendent, Fernandez's season was transcendent, and that left Miller and his merely great rookie campaign fighting for third-place scraps.

In the end, the deserving players won the awards. One just wonders how things would have shaken out without the honors being divided by leagues.

 

Quotes are via MLB Network's broadcast unless otherwise stated. All advanced metrics are via Fangraphs.

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