The Baseball Writers Association of America announced on Monday that Tigers starter Michael Fulmer is the 2016 American League Rookie of the Year. He’s the first Tiger to win the award since Justin Verlander in 2006. He’s the first starting pitcher to win the award in the AL since Jeremy Hellickson in 2011 with the Rays.
Fulmer, 23, went 11-7 with a 3.06 ERA and a 132/42 K/BB ratio over 159 innings for the Tigers. He and Verlander anchored an otherwise uninspiring starting rotation.
Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez impressed in the final two months of the season, putting up a 1.032 OPS with 20 homers in 53 games. However, voters likely thought that Fulmer’s effort over a full season was more impressive than Sanchez’s over one-third of a season.
Fulmer was named first in 26 of 30 ballots with Sanchez taking the other four. Indians outfielder Tyler Naquin finished in third place followed by Astros reliever Chris Devenski, Mariners reliever Edwin Diaz, Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara, and White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson.
Astros shortstop Carlos Correa won the AL ROY last year.
Tied at a league-leading 10 home runs apiece with Cody Bellinger and Khris Davis, it wasn’t long before Brewers slugger Christian Yelich set himself apart from the competition yet again. During the bottom of the first inning on Friday, the 2018 NL MVP singled out the first pitch he saw from the Dodgers’ Ross Stripling — an 86.5-m.p.h. slider just wide of the strike zone — and returned it to the second deck seats in right field for his 11th home run of 2019.
While Bellinger and Davis will undoubtedly continue to make it difficult for Yelich to claim sole honors at the top of the leaderboard, the 27-year-old outfielder has had a banner year so far. Through the first three weeks of the season, he’s batting a strong .354/.447/.823 with 15 extra-base hits, 29 RBI, and three stolen bases across 94 plate appearances. The 29 RBI (27 entering Friday’s game) he collected between March and April eclipsed Prince Fielder’s previous franchise record of 26 RBI — and there’s no telling how much higher that total will rise by the end of the month, too.
Even with the benefit of Yelich’s immense talents, however, the Brewers are just clinging to a first-place tie with the Pirates atop the NL Central. They dropped their last two games to the Cardinals and Dodgers, respectively, and will need to overturn the remainder of their series against LA to build up their division lead again. They’re currently tied 2-2 with the Dodgers in the seventh.