Street wins AL Rookie of Year; Howard wins NL

NEW YORK -- Huston Street kept the AL Rookie of the Year award in-house.

Oakland's poised closer became the second consecutive winner from the Athletics, and Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard won the NL award on Monday.

Street hardly had to look far for inspiration. The previous AL winner was his roommate this season, A's shortstop Bobby Crosby.

"Maybe he rubbed off," Street said.

Street, who took over as Oakland's closer in May, got 15 of 28 first-place votes in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America and finished with 97 points. New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano came in second with 57 points, followed by Tampa Bay Devil Rays designated hitter Jonny Gomes with 39.

Called up from the minors for good on July 1, Howard replaced injured star Jim Thome at first base and led all rookies with 22 home runs. He received 19 of 32 first-place votes and 109 points to beat out Houston Astros outfielder Willy Taveras, who got 78 points. Atlanta Braves right fielder Jeff Francoeur was third with 60.

Both top rookies only got a chance to play in the big leagues this season because teammates got injured.

"Things just started falling in," said Howard, surprised by his comfortable margin of victory. "You never want to see anyone hurt or injured, but I just came up and tried to make the most of my opportunity."

Street is the son of former Texas quarterback James Street, who led the Longhorns to a national title in 1969. The 22-year-old righty became Oakland's closer when Octavio Dotel went down May 20 with a season-ending elbow injury and went 5-1 with 23 saves in 27 chances and a 1.72 ERA -- second among AL closers to the Yankees' Mariano Rivera.

"It's a tremendous honor. Coming into the season my goal was just to stay, one day at a time. Coming out of spring training it didn't even look like I had a chance to make the team," Street said. "Rookie of the year, it's something that's pretty cool -- you've got one chance to get it done."

Street had 72 strikeouts in 78 1/3 innings, and opponents batted only .194 against him.

"He worked hard," James Street said. "The biggest thing is he got lucky with the Dotel situation, but he went out and got the job done. I'm awful proud of him, his mom and I both are. I told him, 'In sports they give you awards for things you've already done, so what are you going to do next year?' He still got the job done. They can't ever take that away from him."

Now the family has another prize to put in the crowded trophy room at home.

"It's dominated by dad right now," the pitcher said, adding that he plans to give the plaque to his parents. "Made my mom cry this morning. It's obviously a pretty big deal if my mom is crying."

One day early in the season, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel compared Howard to a young Willie Stargell, the Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer. Howard had long been a touted slugger in the minors, but his path to the majors appeared blocked until back and elbow injuries sidelined Thome.

Howard was called up from Triple-A twice this year. Finally given a chance to play regularly, he took full advantage and quickly became one of the most dangerous hitters in Philadelphia's lineup, batting .288 with 63 RBI in 88 games.

"There were probably times, yeah, when I did get frustrated," he said.

Howard, who turns 26 next week, had 11 homers and 27 RBI in September and October, helping Philadelphia come within one game of a wild-card berth.

Now, new general manager Pat Gillick and the Phillies have a difficult decision to make at first base. They might try to trade Howard or Thome, who is owed at least $43.5 million over the next three seasons, or Howard could be asked to shift to the outfield.

"I'm getting tired of hearing people say it's a good problem to have. We've got to find out how we're going to use him," Manuel said.

Howard flashed a wide smile as he watched video highlights of his season during a news conference at Citizens Bank Park. He is the fourth Phillies player to win the award, joining Scott Rolen (1997), Dick Allen (1964) and Jack Sanford (1957).

Street is the fifth Oakland player honored, joining Crosby, Ben Grieve (1998), Walt Weiss (1988), Mark McGwire (1987) and Jose Canseco (1986). Pitcher Harry Byrd also won for the A's in 1952, when they still called Philadelphia home.

Just a year removed from college at Texas, Street was impressive in spring training -- but he wasn't guaranteed a spot on the big-league team. He made the opening day roster after reliever Chad Bradford needed back surgery.

Street provided stability at the back of the bullpen and helped the A's stay close in the AL West race all summer before they finished second to the Angels.

"It's quite an accomplishment to step in as a closer and do the job that he did when you're in a pennant race," Athletics manager Ken Macha said. "He was one of the main guys who helped turn around our season after Dotel went down. He was amazing."