Verlander expected, but Ramirez a surprise ROY

Justin Verlander as American League Rookie of the Year wasn’t too surprising — as the margin of victory showed — but Hanley Ramirez’s NL ROY was quite the upset. Sure, he was considered a contender, but that description usually came with a caveat along the lines of “after Dan Uggla and Ryan Zimmerman.”

Clearly, Ramirez and Uggla did not draw too many votes from one another as teammates, since both finished in the top three. But Ramirez’s four-point victory over Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman was the smallest margin in the 26 years that the Baseball Writers Association of America has used the 5-3-1 scoring system for the postseason awards.

This outcome shows just how interesting this system is. Two writers in each National League city (or American League, for AL awards) submit ballots on which they name, in order, their top three candidates. First-place votes get five points, second place nets three and third place garners one. Zimmerman, who had 101 points, was named on 29 of the 32 ballots — 10 in first place, 16 in second and three in third. Ramirez, though, earned his 105 points on just 27 ballots — 14 first place, 11 second and two third. So looking at it another way, that means 29 of 32 writers thought Zimmerman was one of the three best rookies in the National League in 2006, but only 27 of 32 thought Ramirez was among the top three. It’s kind of like Al Gore winning the overall popular vote for president in 2000, but George Bush getting the election based on the point-scoring system, aka the Electoral College.

As for the stats…

Ramirez .292 119 46 17 59 51 .353 .480 .833 .963
Zimmerman .287 84 47 20 110 11 .351 .471 .822 .965

Pretty comparable, with Ramirez’s runs close to making up for the difference in RBIs. The shortstop’s 11 triples to Zimmerman’s three account for the difference in slugging.

I think, in the end, it was a toss-up. It came down to a leadoff hitter vs. a three-hole hitter, an emerging power guy who drives in runs vs. a speedy leadoff guy (with power) who scores them. The two should be NL All-Star reserves for years to come.

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