Jeremy Hellickson named AL Rookie of the Year

14

November

Update 3:25 p.m. RHP Jeremy Hellickson said he was "very excited" to hear he had won the AL Rookie of the Year Award, pointing out there were several guys who had the same amount of chance to be the pick.

"I was very, very excited," Hellickson said. "It's something that I really wanted to win, and there were three, four other guys that I felt were just as deserving. So it's definitely very exciting."

Hellickson said he made some adjustments throughout the year which helped, including improving at holding runners and making some of his pitches better. While he had to deal with a weird schedule, once going 14 days between starts as the Rays tried to conserve his innings, Hellickson said it actually helped him remain healthy the entire year, which was his main goal.

And while Hellickson had a really good year, he knows he can be even better.

"I feel I had a pretty good year, but I felt there were a few games there that definitely got away from me that I know I could have pitched better in," Hellickson said. "I've just got to keep improving everything going into the year."

Hellickson becomes the first starting pitcher to claim the AL Rookie of the Year honors since Tigers RHP Justin Verlander (2006).

"If I am half as successful as he is right now in five years, I'll be happy," Hellickson said. "It's definitely an honor to be mentioned in the same group as him, especially what he's done the last few years especially this year."

Developing: Tampa Bay Rays righthander Jeremy Hellickson admitted he gave some thought to winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award and was hopeful, though had no idea if he’d claim the honor.

But it all became a reality Monday, when the Baseball Writers Association of America tabbed Hellickson as the league’s top rookie.
Hellickson, 24, was listed first on 17 of the 28 ballots, which were submitted by two writers in each league city. He amassed 102 points, topping runner-up, Angels 1B Mark Trumbo (63 points) and Royals 1B Eric Hosmer (38 points). Yankees RHP Ivan Nova finished fourth, and Mariners 2B Dustin Ackley fifth.

Hellickson had a very strong case and was considered a leading candidate, having led all major league rookies in ERA (2.95), innings (189) and opponents’ batting average (.210). He picked up 13 wins while pitching in the American League East, including going undefeated in five consecutive starts against division rivals in September to help the Rays claim the Wild Card.

"I felt like I had a pretty good year," Hellickson said.

Hellickson becomes the second Ray to win the award, joining third baseman Evan Longoria (2008).  The soft-spoken rookie displayed poise of a veteran while pitching in a pennant race, with a post-All-Star break ERA of 2.64, which was third lowest among AL starters.

Hellickson could have easily had several more wins with more help from the offense, but received just one run or less of support while on the mound in nine of his 10 losses. The Rays were shutout in five of Hellickson’s starts.

“Jeremy was a big part of our success in 2011, he was able to make adjustments on the fly which is extremely difficult for someone in their first year,” executive VP Andrew Friedman said. “The funny thing is, as good as he was in 2011, I think the arrow is pointing up, and I’m excited about what he brings to us in future years.”

-- JOE SMITH

joesmith@sptimes.com

[Last modified: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 12:40am]

    

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