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Monday, November 13, 2006

Justin Verlander & Hanley Ramirez: 2006 Rookies of the Year

By David

In what was one of the best rookie classes in recent memory Justin Verlander of the American League Champion Tigers and Hanley Ramirez of the Marlins took top honors in their respective leagues. Verlander became the run away favorite after Boston's Jonathan Papelban and Minnesota's Francisco Liriano suffered mid season injuries.

Verlander distinguished himself as one of the best pitchers in the AL after posting a record of 17-9 with a 3.63 ERA. As his young career progresses he will be among baseballs best pitchers. The National League race for rookie of the year was hotly contested between Washington's third basemen Ryan Zimmerman and Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez who went on to win. There was only a difference of four points between both players and this was the closest race in 26 years.

Ramirez was part of a Marlins team that had six players receive at least one point in voting for the NL rookie of the year and this is a major league record. Besides Ramirez, the list includes Dan Uggla, Josh Johnson, Scott Olsen, Anibal Sanchez and Josh Willingham. This speaks volume to the depth of talent the fish have and why they are one of the brightest teams in all of baseball.

After being acquired in an off season trade with the Red Sox's Hanley batted .292 with 17 home runs, 59 runs batted in, 46 doubles, 11 triples, 185 hits and an impressive 51 stolen bases. His 51 stolen bases ranked third in the NL and his seven lead off home runs tied a rookie record set by Nomar Garciaparra. Ramirez's lightning speed and knack for getting on base was a major reason why Florida shattered their expectations. He recently said "If we bring the same energy next year, we're going to be unbelievable." This optimism is a major factor into why this young ball club is so fun to watch on a regular basis.

The rookie class of 2006 exemplified how hard work can pay off. Many of the Marlins rookies and others around the league took a tough road to get to the majors, but these young men have now become very successful baseball players. When a pitcher can go 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA and 144 strike outs in 28 games[started sixteen] and a hitter can bat .271 with 28 home runs and 81 runs batted in and not win the rookie of the year, you begin to realize just how talented this class of rookies were. If these players were so good in their first year just imagine how good they will become in years to come.


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