Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez became the third native of Cuba voted as Major League Baseball’s rookie of the year, taking the National League award over fellow Cuban Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Tampa Bay outfielder Wil Myers was selected as the American League’s top rookie yesterday, becoming the third Rays player in the past six seasons to win the award.
Fernandez, 21, received 26 of 30 first-place votes to join Tony Oliva (1964) and Jose Canseco (1986) as the only Cuban-born winners of one of the rookie awards presented annually by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Fernandez, who arrived in the U.S. from Cuba in 2008 after several failed attempts, is the first to win the NL award.
“I had to make a tough decision to leave all my family behind and try to come here and do what I love to do, which is play baseball,” Fernandez said in a televised interview. “Just being here is pretty amazing.”
The 22-year-old Puig finished second and was picked first on four ballots.
Myers received 23 of 30 first-place votes in the AL, where Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias -- also a native of Cuba -- was the runner-up after topping five ballots.
Fernandez is the first starting pitcher to win the NL Rookie of the Year award since the Marlins’ Dontrelle Willis in 2003. He’s the fourth player in the franchise’s 21-year history to receive the honor, joining Willis, Hanley Ramirez (2006) and Chris Coghlan (2009).
Fernandez had a 12-6 record and 2.19 earned run average in 28 starts for the Marlins, who had a 62-100 record and scored the fewest runs in the majors. The right-hander allowed 111 hits and struck out 187 batters in 172 2/3 innings while holding opponents to a .182 batting average, tying Hideo Nomo in 1995 for the lowest by a rookie pitcher.
A first-round pick of the Marlins in the 2011 draft, Fernandez is also one of three finalists for the NL Cy Young Award as the top pitcher in his league. That honor will be announced tomorrow.
Fernandez’s chief competition for the NL rookie award was Puig, who helped turn around a Dodgers team that had a 23-32 record when he was called up from the minor leagues on June 3. Puig batted .319 in 104 games for the Dodgers, with 19 home runs, 42 runs batted in, 66 runs scored and 11 stolen bases.
Puig quickly became known for his energetic style of play and had 44 hits in June, the second most in history for the first month of a career behind Joe DiMaggio’s 48 in May 1936. His aggressive and, at times, reckless play captured the imagination of the Dodgers’ fan base the way pitcher Fernando Valenzuela did in the early 1980s with “Fernandomania.” The Dodgers went 69-38 after Puig joined the team and won the NL West title.
St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Shelby Miller finished third in the NL voting after the 23-year-old right-hander went 15-9 with a 3.06 ERA in 31 starts for the NL Central champions.
Myers, 22, was called up from the Rays’ minor-league affiliate in Durham, North Carolina, on June 16 and hit .293 with 13 home runs and 53 runs batted in while playing in 88 games. It’s the fewest games played by an AL Rookie of the Year winner since Bob Hamelin appeared in 101 during the strike-shortened 1994 season for the Kansas City Royals.
“After the first two or three weeks in Durham, I started struggling really bad, hitting like .230 and it was something I’d never been through before,” Myers said in a televised interview. “I didn’t think I was even going to get to the big leagues, but I was able to hit a hot streak, get up, help my team that was in a playoff race and contribute.”
Myers joins pitcher Jeremy Hellickson (2011) and third baseman Evan Longoria (2008) as Tampa Bay players picked as the AL’s top rookie. Myers is the second straight outfielder to win, following Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels.
Iglesias, 23, who started the season with the Boston Red Sox before being traded to the Tigers, hit a combined .303 with three home runs, 29 RBIs and 39 runs scored in 109 games. After batting .330 over 63 games in Boston, Iglesias hit .259 in 46 games for the Tigers while making only two errors.
Rays pitcher Chris Archer also received one first-place vote in the AL, as did Dan Straily of the Oakland Athletics.
The Manager of the Year awards will be announced today.
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