Did Two Late Season Games Cost Porcello The "Rookie Of The Year" Honor?

Adam BiggersSenior Analyst IINovember 17, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS - OCTOBER 06: Starting pitcher Rick Porcello #48 of the Detroit Tigers pitches during the American League Tiebreaker game against the Minnesota Twins on October 6, 2009 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Rick Porcello, of the Detroit Tigers placed third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting today, just behind Elvis Andrus (Texas Rangers), and the Oakland A's Andrew Bailey.

Porcello had one of the best seasons a Tiger rook has seen in years, but his efforts weren't "Rookie of the Year" worthy, according to MLB voters.

Porcello finished third overall with seven first place votes, and eight second place votes, for a grand total of 64 points on the ballot.

2009 was a year of pitching woes for the MoTowners, the young man from Seton Hall Prep was responsible for beefing up the decimated rotation, keeping the Tigers in the hunt for American League Central title.

Porcello's critics suggest that his late season performances against the Minnesota Twins cost him the accolade. In a nail biting division race that featured a 163 game season (a one game play-off) for the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins, Porcello lacked the precision and power that he possessed for the majority of the summer.

9/29/2009 Home vs. Minnesota Twins

Tiger fans were crossing their fingers while sitting on the edge of their seats throughout August and September. Detroit blew a four game lead over their rival, the Minnesota Twins, repeating their fate of the 2006 season. Luckily, Detroit's record was good enough to earn them a spot in the playoffs via the Wild Card in 2006, eventually meeting up with the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

The rookie phenom was on the mound for Detroit in two must win situations vs. the Twinnies in late September and early October. The Twins were gaining ground fast, and Kansas City took a bite out of the Tigers' lead in the Central late in the season, series that fans would like to forget, and Twin fans thank the Royals for.

Porcello was pelted for seven hits in 6 1/3 innings, recording just one strikeout with one earned run, as the Twins beat the Tigers 3-2. Orlando Cabrera scored on Delmon Young's sac-fly to take the Tigers out, a win that tied Minnesota for first place with Detroit in the division.

10/06/2009: The One Game Playoff

Just over a week later, Detroit found themselves in a one game showdown against Minnesota for all the marbles. Porcello once again got the nod from skipper Jim Leyland, hoping to clinch playoff berth for the weary Tigers. Despite a decent outing, the intense pressure put on the shoulders of the rookie pitcher in the waining hours of the season was quite a load to bear.

Porcello threw for 5 2/3 innings, surrendering four hits and notching eight K's. Porcello was charged with just one run that night, but the valiant effort put forth by Detroit was not enough to ward off the surging Minnesota Twins. The Twins won 6-5, earning themselves a post season date with the New York Yankees, who eventually won it all in six games vs. the Philadelphia Phillies.

As far as rookie seasons are concerned, Dave Dombrowski got his money's worth from  Porcello.

Porcello was one of baseball's hottest pitchers from early August to mid September, looked to be ready for October, and for much of the season did not look like a rookie. 

Posting a 14-9 record for the year, 4-2 in his last ten, the rookie earned his stripes in '09. Porcello threw for over 170 innings, Andrew Bailey is just a closer for a dismal, non-contending franchise in Oakland. Voters decided that his 26 saves and 1.84 ERA outweighed Porcello's exceptional statistics. 

With a respectable ERA (for the American League) of 3.96, 89 strikeouts, and a winning record (five games over .500), Porcello certainly deserved being named American League Rookie of the Year.

There is no question that Rick Porcello quickly became a fan favorite in Detroit in 2009 and will be for as long as he has an old english "D" on his hat. Here's to OUR Rookie of the Year, and to a sensational sophomore campaign.