Former Bulls, NC natives in chase for AL rookie honors
Posted September 11, 2013
With about 20 games left in the Major League Baseball regular season, there’s a good chance another former Durham Bull will bag a Rookie of the Year trophy.
This year’s prime candidate is Tampa Bay outfielder Wil Myers, the 22-year-old Thomasville native and former high school star at High Point’s Wesleyan Christian Academy.
After playing 64 games with the Bulls (14 home runs, 57 runs batted in), Myers was promoted to the Rays in mid-June and actually has hit big-league pitching better than he did at the AAA level in Durham.
Through Tuesday’s 2-0 Rays loss to Boston, the 6-3, 205-pounder was batting .290 with 11 homers and 42 RBI. In the 64 games at Durham, he batted .286.
Originally a third-round 2009 draft pick by Kansas City, Myers has a chance to become the third Bulls alum to win the top American League rookie award while with the Rays. Third baseman Evan Longoria won in 2008 and pitcher Jeremy Hellickson won in 2011.
But the Bulls’ winning rookie connection goes back to 1990, when outfielder David Justice won the National League award with the Braves.
Myers obviously has a good deal of competition:
- Jose Iglesias, SS, Detroit (.321 average, three home runs, 29 RBI)
- J.B. Shuck, OF, L.A. Angels (.295/2/38)
- David Lough, OF, Kansas City (.283/4/30)
- Cody Allen, P, Cleveland (5-1, 2.71 earned average, two saves)
- Martin Perez, P, Texas (9-4, 3.60 ERA)
For much of the summer, Myers had significant competition from teammate Chris Archer, the 24-year-old Clayton native and former Bull whose 8-7 pitching record, 3.19 ERA and two shutouts have been instrumental in the Rays’ ability to stay in contention for a playoff spot.
In his past two outings, the 6-3, 220-pound right-hander has struggled against the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners. He's still in the rookie picture, however. With at least three more starts in the rotation, he can still impress enough to win the vote.
Only one North Carolina native has ever won a rookie award: Charlotte’s Tommy Helms, a second baseman for the Cincinnati Reds in 1966.
Should Myers and Archer finish 1-2 in the voting by some chance, it would be a genuine MLB rarity.
Since Jackie Robinson (Brooklyn Dodgers) won the initial award in 1947, there have been only seven occasions when teammates finished 1-2 in the rookie votes:
- 1957 Phillies: Jack Sanford P (1) & Ed Bouchee 1B (2)
- 1960 Orioles: Ron Hansen SS (1), Chuck Estrada P (2) & Jim Gentile 1B (3)
- 1962 White Sox: Gary Peters P (1) & Pete Ward 3B (2)
- 1975 Red Sox: Fred Lynn OF (1) & Jim Rice OF (2)
- 1983 Mariners: Alvin Davis 1B (1) & Mark Langston P (2)
- 1988 Cubs: Jerome Walton OF (1) & Dwight Smith OF (2)
- 2011 Braves: Craig Kimbrel P (1) & Freddie Freeman 1B (2)
What’s more, the National League rookie race also could feature a 1-2 teammates vote, which would be enough to make the Majors’ 2013 rookie class the most unusual in modern history.
L.A. Dodger outfielder Yasiel Puig (.338 average, 15 homers, 110 hits in 86 games) and left-handed pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu (13-5, 3.02 earned run average) are the likely leaders in a bumper NL rookie crop that also includes:
- Evan Gattis, C, Atlanta (.248/18/54)
- Jose Fernandez, P, Miami (11-6, 2.23 ERA)
- Shelby Miller, P, St. Louis (13-9, 3.05 ERA)
- Julio Teheran, P, Atlanta (12-7, 3.05 ERA)
- Tanner Roark, P, Washington (5-0, 0.92 ERA)
- Justin Wilson, P, Pittsburgh (6-1, 2.17 ERA)
- Jim Henderson, P, Milwaukee (3-5, 24 saves, 62 strikeouts in 53 innings)
- Tony Cingrani, P, Cincinnati (7-4, 2.92 ERA)
The awards voting by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America will be conducted during the first week of October. Last year’s winners were Washington outfielder Bryce Harper in the National League and Angels outfielder Mike Trout in the American.