Marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez was announced as the winner of the National League Rookie of the Year Award by the BBWAA this evening, beating out finalists Yasiel Puig and Shelby Miller. Fernandez received 26 out of 30 first-place votes while Puig received the other four.
Fernandez becomes the first Cuban-born player to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award. Tony Oliva won the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 1964 as a member of the Twins.
The National League produced an impressive crop of rookies this season — and the vote likely would have been much closer if Puig was around for the entire season — but Fernandez was the best of the bunch. While the Marlins surprised many around the game by including him on their Opening Day roster despite no experience above High-A, he quickly established himself as a legitimate ace, finishing second in the majors (behind the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw) with a 2.19 ERA to go along with a 187/58 K/BB ratio over 172 2/3 innings. He ranked first in the majors with a .182 batting average against while his 9.75 K/9 was second-highest in the National League behind the Pirates’ A.J. Burnett.
Fernandez got better as he adjusted to major league lineups, putting up a 1.50 ERA over 18 starts after June 1. Nobody was better in that time. He also thrived at the spacious Marlins Ballpark, going a perfect 9-0 with a 1.19 ERA. And given the lack of offense from the Marlins this past season, that’s pretty impressive. His ERA was the lowest by a rookie since Dave Righetti (1981) and the lowest by a pitcher in his age-20 season since Dwight Gooden (1985). As a result of his historic rookie campaign, Fernandez is a finalist for the National League Cy Young Award, which will be announced on Wednesday. While Kershaw is considered a near-lock for the award, Fernandez should be a serious threat in future seasons if his health cooperates.
Complete voting results for the National League Rookie of the Year Award can be found at BBWAA.com.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.