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Sporting News NL Rookie Of The Year


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Ryan Fagan Sporting News



Sporting News has selected a Rookie of the Year since 1946, a year before MLB began its official award. This year's winners, as voted on by fellow players in their leagues, are Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins (National League) and Wil Myers of the Tampa Bay Rays (American League):


Miami Marlins pitching coach Chuck Hernandez enjoys telling the story of the first time he saw Jose Fernandez pitch.

Jose Fernandez na

Hernandez was an assistant coach at South Florida, and Fernandez was a highly recruited prepster at Alonso High School in Tampa, throwing a game against Tampa Catholic. It just so happened that Hernandez’s son, Cody, played for Tampa Catholic.

Hernandez watched Fernandez warm up and quickly developed a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. After just one inning, he made the phone call to Lelo Prado, the head coach at South Florida. See, Fernandez was a South Florida signee, and Hernandez was calling to tell his boss to deliver some bad news.

“I told him, forget it, you’re never going to see him,� Hernandez says with a laugh. “Forget that. He ain’t coming here. It was a nice sign, but you’re never going to get him.�

The only question in Hernandez’s mind, and what he told a couple of the scouts in attendance, is which pick in the first round would be used for Fernandez.

Turns out, the Marlins took him with the 14th pick in the first round. Now, he has the honor of being voted the Sporting News National League Rookie of the Year by his fellow players, and it wasn’t even close, despite a wealth of talented rookies in the league this season.

Fernandez received 64 votes, Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers received four, and St. Louis’s Shelby Miller received two, as did Atlanta teammates Evan Gattis and Julio Teheran.

Fernandez made 28 starts before the Marlins ended his season with a predetermined innings cap. He had a 2.16 ERA and led the NL by allowing just 5.8 hits per nine innings. In his 172 2/3 innings, he allowed just 111 hits, 10 homers and 58 walks while striking out 187.

“It’s hard to project that,� Hernandez said. “We knew the talent was there, and we knew he would do well, so that didn’t surprise me. But to the extent that he accomplished, even with the certain restrictions we had on him, the things he accomplished were amazing for a young fella, at his age. … I expected him to do well, but he exceeded what I expected.�

Because the Marlins were being careful with their young righthander—Fernandez turned 21 on July 31—he wasn’t able to complete any of his games. But in 15 of those 28 starts, he allowed fewer than two earned runs. The one that really stood out to his pitching coach came on May 4, his sixth career start, in the hostile environment in Philadelphia.

“He did some things that day that made me say, ‘OK, that’s different,’ � Hernandez said. “He was just 20 years old at the time, and that’s not how 20-year-olds usually get along in this business.�

Fernandez was lifted after just 82 pitches covering seven innings. He allowed one hit, one walk and put away Philly hitters quickly all night. To strike out nine over seven innings with just 82 pitches is pretty incredible.

What he did in the second half was pretty incredible, too. Starting in late May, Hernandez said, he started working in his changeup more, which gave him three above-average pitches instead of just two. As he continued to roll up quality start after quality start, his already healthy confidence level continued to grow.

In his 10 second-half starts, he allowed only 10 unearned runs. The Marlins went 8-2 in games he started after the All-Star break and 19-40 when anyone else started. If there was any doubt that he was the NL’s top rookie, that 1.32 ERA in the second half ended the conversation.

“You’ve got to watch him,� Hernandez said. “He’s worth the price of admission.�


Monday: AL and NL Rookies of the Year and AL and NL Comeback Players of the Year

Tuesday: AL and NL Managers of the Year

Wednesday: AL and NL All-Star Teams

Thursday: MLB Player of the Year

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So, the Sporting News award is based on players' votes, with "player" left undefined.


Total 1st place votes were only 74.


There are 750 players on MLB 25-man rosters, so that's slightly less than 10% of them. Maybe the idea is 10% get a vote and 1 guy didn't bother to vote.


What's the SN rule? Only guys with at least 5 years (or 6 or 7 or 8, etc.) in MLB get to vote? I have no idea what any arcane SN voting rules might be, and they don't say. Neither does anyone else running the story.


But, that sounds likely, and if it's something like that to designed to generate a vote by the senior-most 10% of all rosters, then the writers' opinions may turn out to be very similar to the veteran players' opinions, which were almost unanimous.


Which would bode very well for Fernandez.

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Fernandez deserves to win the award and I think he will win a Cy Young Award or two down the road. But, if Puig played the whole year, it would have been a coin flip as they are both amazing ballplayers.



Puig wasn't that great after June. I doubt he would've sustained his stellar .900+ OPS throughout the course of one whole season for him.

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