Porcello named Tigers Rookie of the Year

In case you missed it (sorry, but blog program wasn’t working earlier today), Rick Porcello won the Tigers Rookie of the Year award today. It wasn’t really a surprise, but it was another moment to appreciate what he did this year after he surprised a lot of people by making the rotation out of spring training in the first place.

As reported many times already, Porcello is just the fourth pitcher since 1970 to put up a 14-win season before his 21st birthday, the last being Doc Gooden. What stood out to me, though, was the way he adjusted his game after a midseason slump and thrived down the stretch for it. He went 5-2 with a 3.07 ERA over his final 13 starts, allowing just 66 hits over 73 1/3 innings. Just 18 of those hits went for extra bases. He lost only one of his final eight starts, and his 5 2/3 innings with eight strikeouts in the AL Central tiebreaker gave Detroit a shot at winning the division before falling in extra innings.

Want to know what else was impressive about that stretch? Look at his ground ball to fly ball ratio. He had one of highest ground-ball rates in the American League for the season, but he was close to even for the final two months. He went from throwing sinker after sinker to mixing in more four-seam fastballs down the stretch, partly at catcher Gerald Laird’s suggestion, and batters popped them up.

Did the Tigers manage him well? Sure, and they deserve credit for it, especially pitching coach Rick Knapp. But this kid worked well with Laird and made adjustments, and he showed an aptitude well ahead of his time. He probably won’t get the credit he deserves for that when AL Rookie of the Year voting comes out next week — too bad, because the Tigers would’ve lost the division before Game 163 without him — but it’s going to be fun to look at this season’s AL rookie crop in a few years and see where Porcello stands.

9 Comments

Agreed on all counts. And he also body slammed Kevin Youkilis.
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–Rich

Forgot about that one. Let’s see Gordon Beckham and Jeff Niemann top that.

Gosh, how could I forget that game. That was a doozy and he handled himself so well. I loved seeing Youklis face going in the dirt. He’s a terrific pitcher. So much poise for a young guy and able to make the adjustments.

That made me chuckle. I will try to forget that we got done over by the umps and MLB but Rick’s deft move will be a lasting memory.
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On the previous post, I have felt Carlos has been the odd man out since going to left field. Having been moved from SS to 1st to 3rd and now LF where he was mediocre at best, you are clearly not maximising your $26m investment over the next two years, particularly with low cost Raburn ready to play regularly and possibly even Clete if he is allowed to settle down the order.
Ask a dumb question but why wasn’t Carlos considered as a possible 2nd basemen for 2010 instead of being told he is going back to LF? Or is management second guessing that his knees will not be able to handle the workload which is less strenuous than SS or 3rd?
That would allow Sizemore to be phased in and the DH shared between Carlos, Maggs and possibly even Sizemore if his defense is still an issue.

Well, now, that’s a good question, dave. Personally, I’d prefer to see him playing second base over LF. Maybe they don’t think he has the range? I don’t know, it’s a tough call for Carlos, a player I like so much.

Congratulations to Rick. You wonder if the Tigers would of made it into the playoffs if he would be considered a front runner for ROY???

I’ll never be able to see Fenway Park again without seeing young Master Rick take him down. I’ve been in Fenway and you just know their fans, especially the male ones, were looking at each other and saying “Dude, Youk just got his butt kicked.” Paraphrased, of course.
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We don’t yet know what the roster will look like come April, but good point, Dave. I’ve been thinking that Guillen almost has to be a DH, but secondbase is a thought. He’s played it before and he wouldn’t be as much in harm’s way while turning a DP as a shortstop is. Nor would he have to plant and make a long throw very often. In LF, I like Raburn’s athleticism if he can just learn the ins and outs of the position. Ryan looks to me like one of the best “see the ball hit the ball” guys on the entire roster. He doesn’t outthink himself up there.
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Just for fun, would anyone be interested in Johnny Damon?
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–Rich

Without quoting team officials, I believe the sentiment on Guillen at 2B was to question whether his knees would hold up, and that his range would be a question. Guillen’s camp was told that they planned on having Scott Sizemore at second if Polanco wasn’t back.

Agreed Jason. I would question his range. These second basemen today are diving all over the place, and coming up throwing the ball. Very quick. But I really enjoyed watching Carlos play SS. He had a silky smooth, fluid style that may have been unmatched in the league. Maybe so smooth that it belied or covered any quickness that he may have had(or lacked). Having said that, if Placido doesn’t return, why not give Carlos a shot at second. Still, I just don’t think he has the quickness for the position. But sentimentally speaking, I’m with you Dave.
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Rick could easily deserve the Rookie of the Year Award. We may have lost the Central Division Title, but seeing Rick Porcello “wing” the great Kevin Youkilis to the turf in front of Youk’s own adoring fans, and then somehow have the spacial presence to wind up on top of him is a pretty decent Consolation Prize. A fine bit of trickery. And I might say a wonderful baseball memory. “Hey Rick, now that you’ve experienced the rookie thrill of face planting a guy twice your size while in a full on mound charge, all of this occurring in his own house, what are you going to do next?” “I’m going to…………

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