White Sox slugger Jose Abreu, who finished third in the AL in homers and first in slugging percentage last season, was the unanimous choice for the AL Rookie of the Year award, announced Monday.
Abreu topped Angels starter Matt Shoemaker and Yankees setup man Dellin Betances for the award in a strong class of AL rookies. Any one of those three, Collin McHugh, Masahiro Tanaka and Yordano Ventura probably would have won the award in 2013 over 88 games of Wil Myers.
Shoemaker finished second with 12 of the 30 second-place votes, though he was named on just 16 ballots. Betances got seven second-place votes and was named on 13 ballots. McHugh finished fourth, getting six second-place votes. Tanaka was fifth with three second-place votes.
Recognized as Cuba’s best hitter before defecting, the 27-year-old Abreu became the White Sox’s everyday first baseman after signing a six-year, $68 million contract with the White Sox in the offseason. He ended up hitting .317/.383/.581 with 36 homers and 107 RBI despite serving an early DL stint due to an ankle injury.
Shoemaker is the only controversial selection. While undeniably a fine starter, he got the nod over McHugh and Tanaka strictly because of his 16-4 record for baseball’s best team. Digging a little deeper:
Shoemaker: 3.04 ERA, 124 K in 136 IP
McHugh: 2.73 ERA, 157 K in 154 2/3 IP
Tanaka: 2.77 ERA, 141 K in 136 1/3 IP
Ventura: 3.20 ERA, 159 K in 183 IP
McHugh should have been the pick as the AL’s top rookie starter. He actually faced the Angels four times this year and had a 1.90 ERA. In all, he had a 1.55 ERA in seven starts against playoff teams. Shoemaker had a 4.40 ERA in his five starts against playoff clubs.
Betances, a failed starter in the minors, was simply an overwhelming reliever for the Yankees, rivaling Wade Davis for the best numbers of any reliever in the majors. He had a 1.40 ERA and a 135/24 K/BB ratio in a whopping 90 innings out of the pen. Only the Mets’ Carlos Torres threw more innings in relief last season.