Neftali Feliz wins AL Rookie of the Year

Texas Rangers closer Neftali Feliz was named American League Rookie of the Year Tuesday. That makes it back-to-back years in which the AL Rookie of the Year is a relief pitcher.

Neftali Feliz

FelizFeliz finished third in the AL with 40 saves, setting the major league record for saves by a rookie. He tied for the fourth-most saves in a season in Rangers history and more than doubled the Baltimore Orioles’ Alfredo Simon, who was the next closest AL rookie with 17.

Feliz is the second Ranger to win the award, joining Mike Hargrove, who won it playing first base in 1974.

Detroit Tigers centerfielder Austin Jackson, who finished second, led AL rookies with 27 stolen bases and was second with a .293 batting average. He also played great defense, including a spectacular catch in the ninth inning of Armando Galarraga’s near-perfect game.

100 Runs Scored, 20 SB
AL Rookies since 1980

Plus-Minus measures a fielder’s ability to turn batted balls into outs, comparing how he fared to others at his position. No outfielder had a better rating in 2010 than Jackson did. He rated a +18, meaning that had Jackson and an average major league centerfielder been hit the same balls to the same spots, Jackson would have made 18 more plays.

Jackson does join a pretty good list of AL rookies to score 100 runs and steal 20 bases since 1980. But Jackson struck out 170 times, the fourth-highest single-season total ever for a rookie.

The only rookie to hit for a higher average was Minnesota Twins third baseman Danny Valencia, who finished third in the voting. Valencia hit .311 in 85 games this season, and according to Baseball Reference, finished fifth in the league in fielding percentage at his position.

With Buster Posey winning in the National League, the Rookies of the Year faced each other in the World Series for just the third time in baseball history. In 1981, the New York Yankees and Dave Righetti faced Fernando Valenzuela and the Los Angeles Dodgers. And in 1951, Gil McDougald and the Yankees faced the New York Giants and Willie Mays.