You could have made the case that Wil Myers and Jose Fernandez both started the 2013 season in the wrong place. But considering they were both crowned Rookie of the Year on Monday, it's safe to say their seasons ended exactly where they had hoped.
Fernandez, the 21-year-old Miami Marlins starting pitcher, hadn't played at a level higher than Single-A when he was added to the opening day roster. The call-up was criticized as a ticket-selling gimmick since the lowly Marlins had traded away most of their stars the season before.
Myers, the 22-year-old Tampa Bay Rays outfielder, was pretty much big-league ready coming into 2013. He was at the center of a big offseason trade between the Rays and Kansas City Royals that was also criticized — mainly because people thought the Royals were dumb to send Myers to the Rays for pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis. When Myers started the season in Triple-A, some were clamoring to see him in Tampa Bay, seeing as how the team just made this big trade to get him.
In one case, patience was rewarded. In another, acceleration worked out better than expected.
Fernandez seemed likely to take some lumps, a 20-year-old at season's start, playing for one of the worst teams in baseball. Quite the contrary, Fernandez was spectacular for the Marlins. He had a 12-6 record with a 2.19 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in 172.2 innings. He led all rookies with a 4.2 WAR, according to Fangraphs. Fernandez's ERA was the best in baseball from any pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw. This, on a team that finished the season 62-100 — meaning Fernandez wasn't getting a ton of support.
His season was compared often to Dwight Gooden and Fernando Valenzuela's rookie seasons, and like theirs, it ended with the Rookie of the Year award. Fernandez received 26 of 30 first-place votes to beat out Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Shelby Miller of the St. Louis Cardinals. Many expected the NL race to closer, because Puig was a monster —.319/.391/.534 with 19 homers and 42 RBIs in 104 games, the Dodgers were 66-38 when he played. He was really good. Fernandez was just tremendous.
Even in Triple-A, the season started slow for Myers. He hit .263/.344/.441 with seven home runs through May 28, but turned it on and hit seven home runs in 18 days before getting a mid-June call-up. He was down in the minors because keeping him there helped the Rays contractually, it helped season Myers more and it gave the franchise some time to get to know him.
But Myers had been one of those prospected labeled as "the future" for a few years now. There was little doubt he's make an impact. And he did — hitting .293/.354/.478 in 88 games. Fun fact: His 88 games played are the lowest of any American League position player to win Rookie of the Year.
Myers hit 13 homers and drove in 53 RBIs this season, giving the Rays a late-season boost as they advanced into the playoffs as a wild-card team. He hit .308/.362/.542 in September and October, with four homers and 14 RBIs in that time frame.
He was the favorite to win Rookie of the Year, and there was no surprise when the outcome was announced. Myers earned 23 of the 30 first-place votes. He beat out Jose Iglesias of the Detroit Tigers (who finished second) and teammate Chris Archer (third place). Myers is now the third Rays player to win the Rookie of the Year, joining Jeremy Hellickson (in 2011) and Evan Longoria (2008). This makes the Rays the only team in MLB with three Rookie of the Year winners on its roster.
The Marlins have done very well in recent Rookies of the Year too. Fernandez is the fourth since 2003, joining Chris Coghlan (2009), Hanley Ramirez (2006) and Dontrelle Willis (2003).
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