NEW YORK (AP) - Jose Fernandez arrived early. Wil Myers made it big after a blockbuster trade.
Neither one needed much time to create a splash, and together they brought both Rookie of the Year awards back to Florida.
Fernandez stood out in a very deep National League class this season, and the precocious Miami Marlins pitcher received 26 of 30 first-place votes from a Baseball Writers’ Association of America panel in results announced Monday.
Myers won the American League prize after the Tampa Bay slugger put up impressive offensive numbers in barely half a season. The right fielder was chosen first on 23 of 30 ballots, beating out Detroit shortstop Jose Iglesias and Rays teammate Chris Archer.
“Honestly, when I was called up that didn’t even cross my mind. As the season went on I could see I would have a chance,” Myers said on a conference call from his North Carolina home. “To be able to win is just a huge honor and I’m very excited about it.”
The two announcements marked the beginning of awards week in baseball. NL and AL Manager of the Year will be revealed Tuesday, with the Cy Young winners Wednesday and MVPs on Thursday.
Myers became the third Tampa Bay player in six years to be selected Rookie of the Year, joining Jeremy Hellickson (2011) and Evan Longoria (2008). Seated next to each other, Myers and Archer smiled and shook hands when the winner was revealed on MLB Network.
Fernandez easily topped runner-up Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers as Cuban players ran 1-2 in the NL race. The only previous Rookie of the Year winners from Cuba came in the AL: Jose Canseco in 1986 and Tony Oliva in 1964.
“It means a lot just to be compared to those guys,” Fernandez said. “I’m not sure I was even born when those guys were playing. But for sure I heard the names before. … All the kids in Cuba play baseball.”
Puig received the other four first-place votes and amassed 95 points to 142 for Fernandez, who made the All-Star team at age 20. He went 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA and 187 strikeouts for a last-place club that finished 62-100.
Fernandez was shut down in September after 172 2-3 innings to protect his precious arm. Still, his debut season was so superb that he’s one of three finalists for the NL Cy Young Award _ though Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is a heavy favorite.
Fernandez already has one big prize, however, and he hugged his mother and grandmother when he won.
He came to the United States by boat as a Cuban refugee in 2008, apparently rescuing his mom along the way. Drafted 14th overall in 2011 out of high school in Tampa, Fla., he had never pitched above Class A before this season. Fernandez was ticketed for Double-A Jacksonville at the end of spring training when injuries left two holes in Miami’s rotation.
Fernandez became an unexpected addition to the roster, making him the youngest pitcher on a major league team on opening day.
“I wasn’t planning on being in the big leagues,” he said.