Tigers' Verlander, Marlins' Ramirez are top rookies

Updated: November 14, 2006, 8:31 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Right after Hanley Ramirez heard he was the NL Rookie of the Year, he started getting congratulatory calls from his Florida Marlins teammates.

Ramirez feels 'blessed'
Hanley Ramirez
Ramirez
In an telephone interview from his home in the Dominican Republic, National League Rookie of the Year Hanley Ramirez told ESPNdeportes.com's Enrique Rojas that he feels "blessed" and thanked the Red Sox for giving him a chance by trading him to the Marlins. Click here for more.

Steve Phillips' take
Hanley Ramirez will forever be a star in the majors, and Phillips also says this is the best rookie class in a long time. To listen, click here. Insider

That was only fitting, because some of his toughest competition came from all those other baby-faced players inside his own clubhouse.

Ramirez edged Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman in a tight race for NL honors, and Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander took home the AL award when balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America was revealed Monday.

"I'm so happy," Ramirez said. "I want to thank each one of my teammates, because every day they gave me the energy to play in the big leagues."

Ramirez beat out Zimmerman by four points -- the closest NL vote since the current format was adopted 26 years ago. The speedy shortstop got 14 of 30 first-place votes and finished with 105 points. Zimmerman received 10 first-place votes and totaled 101 points.

Three of the top four NL finishers were Marlins. Second baseman Dan Uggla came in third, getting six first-place votes, and pitcher Josh Johnson was fourth, tabbed first on the other two entries.

After Ramirez won, one of the first calls he got was from Uggla, his double-play partner and good friend.

NL Rookie of Year voting
Player 1st-place votes 2nd 3rd Points
Hanley Ramirez, Marlins 14 11 2 105
Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals 10 16 3 101
Dan Uggla, Marlins 6 3 16 55
Josh Johnson, Marlins 2 -- 1 11
Matt Cain, Giants -- 1 1 4
Andre Ethier, Dodgers -- 1 1 4
Prince Fielder, Brewers -- -- 2 2
Takashi Saito, Dodgers -- -- 2 2
Russell Martin, Dodgers -- -- 1 1
Scott Olsen, Marlins -- -- 1 1
Anibal Sanchez, Marlins -- -- 1 1
Josh Willingham, Marlins -- -- 1 1

"Nobody was talking about winning Rookie of the Year in the clubhouse," Ramirez said. "No egos."

Verlander easily won the AL award after his closest competitors in a race dominated by pitchers were sidelined late in the season because of injuries. The hard-throwing right-hander, who helped the surprising Tigers reach the World Series, was listed first on 26 of 28 ballots for a total of 133 points.

Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon came in second with 63 points, and Minnesota lefty Francisco Liriano finished third.

"I was pretty excited. I was actually outside washing the car. I totally forgot that today was the day it was announced," Verlander said. "It was pretty fun just to be a part of this rookie class."

Next up is the NL Cy Young Award, another wide-open race. The winner will be announced Tuesday.

The 23-year-old Verlander, who went 17-9 with a 3.63 ERA, became the first starting pitcher to win AL Rookie of the Year since Dave Righetti of the New York Yankees in 1981. The last Tigers player to receive the honor was second baseman Lou Whitaker in 1978.

"It's a nice tribute to him and his teammates," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said in a telephone interview from his home in Pittsburgh. "Usually when you accomplish something like this, it's a combination of earning it with your play and with teammates making contributions. Winning usually helps, too."

Ramirez gave the Marlins their second Rookie of the Year in four years, joining ace pitcher Dontrelle Willis, who played a little prank on his teammate by calling in unannounced during Ramirez's conference call with South Florida reporters.

AL Rookie of Year voting
Player 1st-place votes 2nd 3rd Points
Justin Verlander, Tigers 26 1 0 133
Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox -- 20 3 63
Francisco Liriano, Twins 1 3 16 30
Kenji Johjima, Mariners -- 2 4 10
Jered Weaver, Angels -- 2 2 8
Nick Markakis, Orioles 1 -- 2 7
Ian Kinsler, Rangers -- -- 1 7

"I just called in to say congrats. I love you. Keep doing your thing out there," Willis said.

The 22-year-old Ramirez, acquired from Boston last November in a deal for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell, batted .292 with 17 homers, 59 RBI, 119 runs and 51 stolen bases. Ramirez also hit 46 doubles and 11 triples.

Voters select their top three choices and points are tabulated on a 5-3-1 basis. Before 1980, writers voted for just one rookie.

Zimmerman, who actually appeared on more ballots than Ramirez (29-27), hit .287 with 20 homers, 110 RBI and 47 doubles. He also played strong defense at third base.

"To tell you the truth, you can't be disappointed, because you had a great year," Zimmerman said. "I knew it was going to be a really close vote, and that made it kind of easier. It was a tough year to be a rookie, because there were so many good ones."

Previously, the closest NL election was in 1982 when Steve Sax of the Los Angeles Dodgers edged fellow second baseman Johnny Ray of Pittsburgh 63-57.

Six Marlins received votes, the most for one team on a rookie ballot. Pitchers Scott Olsen and Anibal Sanchez were also mentioned, along with outfielder Josh Willingham.

Liriano and Baltimore outfielder Nick Markakis, who finished sixth, received the other first-place votes in the AL. Seattle catcher Kenji Johjima came in fourth, and Los Angeles Angels pitcher Jered Weaver was fifth.

Previous winners from Detroit were pitcher Mark Fidrych in 1976 and shortstop Harvey Kuenn in 1953.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press