World Series combatants up for Rookie Awards

CHRIS RUDDICK, Sports Network

, Last Updated: 2:20 PM ET

The Baseball Writers' Association of America will hand out their first two postseason awards on Monday, as the American and National League Rookies of the Year will be announced.

It appears to be a two-man race in each league, as Texas closer Neftali Feliz and Detroit outfielder Austin Jackson are the clear cut front runners in the AL, while San Francisco catcher Buster Posey and Atlanta outfielder Jason Heyward highlight a deeper NL ballot.

Feliz was among the elite in major league closers this season, recording 40 saves to go along with a 2.73 earned run average. He also finished an AL-best 59 games and struck out better than a batter an inning while posting a nearly 4-to-1 ratio of strikeouts to walks.

The 22-year-old right-hander was terrific down the stretch for the AL champion Rangers. He allowed just three hits and tossed 12 1/3 scoreless innings in the final month of the regular season.

Should Feliz win he would become just the Rangers' second Rookie of the Year winner and first since Mike Hargrove took home the honors in 1974.

Feliz, though, will be challenged by Jackson, the 23-year-old leadoff hitter from the Tigers. Acquired from the New York Yankees as part of the three-team Curtis Granderson deal, Jackson was tremendous for Detroit, as he led all major league rookies in hits (181), runs (103) and stolen bases (27), while finishing second among rookies in total bases (247), doubles (34) and games played (151-tie).

Jackson, who also led the league in strikeouts, was also tremendous in the field, where his season will most be remembered by perhaps the defensive play of the year, a tremendous running catch to keep Armando Galarraga's near perfect game intact back in June.

There have been four other Tigers named Rookie of the Year with the last being Justin Verlander in 2006.

Tampa's Wade Davis figures to finish a distant third to Feliz and Jackson.

Over in the National League Heyward was a runaway pick at the start of the season and seemed to be well on his way to winning the award early on and was even selected by the fans to start the All-Star Game.

However, his numbers are pedestrian compared to Posey when you consider the latter spent the first two months of the year in Triple-A.

Heyward ended the year hitting .277 with 18 home runs and 72 RBI. Posey, meanwhile, batted .305 with 18 home runs and 67 RBI in 34 less games than Heyward. Not to mention he played a far more demanding position at catcher, where he helped the Giants pitching staff to a major league-best 3.63 ERA.

San Francisco hasn't had a Rookie of the Year Award winner since John Montefusco in 1975, while Atlanta's last winner was David Justice in 1990.

Other players who will get some votes include Florida first baseman Gaby Sanchez, who led NL rookies with 85 RBI, and St. Louis lefty Jaime Garcia, who was fourth in the NL in ERA and had 19 quality starts in 28 games.


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