All three guys had spectacular seasons; Fulmer had a 3.06 ERA in 159 innings for the Tigers. He ran a 132:42 K:BB (3.1:1) ratio over 26 starts and was one of the Tiger’s most reliable starters throughout the season. He was an objectively valuable player, posting a 4.9 WAR and is the fair and reasonable choice for rookie of the year.
Gary Sanchez had a 3.0 WAR this season and set the league on fire while swatting 20 homers in just 53 games. He was also the starting catcher on my All Rookie team from a few weeks back.
Third place finisher, Tyler Naquin helped the Indians to the World Series and even started a few games for the Indians in the fall classic. Naquin played 114 games and hit just shy of .300 with 14 homers. He was not a starter on my All Rookie team.
All in all, this was a very very strong year for AL Rookies. Even still, Texas Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara got shafted!
Sure, Mazara had a lower batting average than Naquin and hit the same number of home runs as Sanchez in about 90 more games, but I’d argue that those extra games make Mazara a better candidate, not a worse one.
The Texas Rangers were forced to call up the 20-year old Nomar, maybe before he was ready, on April 10th, in just their 7th game of the season. He went on to become a lineup mainstay. Starting 145 games, primarily in right field, he knocked 137 hits in the process.
Mazara took what could have been a major hole in a contender’s lineup and turned it into a batting slot manager Brian Bannister could basically forget about. That’s tremendous value.
Sure, Mazara didn’t have as flashy of a year as Naquin or Sanchez or Fulmer. And I’ll even conceede that the award isn’t ‘Most Valuable’ Rookie; it’s Rookie of the Year, but Mazara deserved a lot more attention than he has received.
If I was offered a choice of which guy I’d want if I was starting my team right now, well, I’d probably go with Sanchez just because he’s a catcher. But then I’d go with Mazara! I think he’s going to have a really long and really successful career ahead of him. (Then Fulmer, then Naquin, for what it’s worth.)
Give Nomar Mazara his due, he’s going to be a potent force in the middle of the Rangers lineup for a long time, and he’ll be a big part of the solution as the Rangers move on from the Prince Fielder era and look to sustain 2016’s success.