ROY from the AFL
Another feather in the AFL’s cap. We’ve talked about all the alumni (close to 1,200) who have made it to the bigs. We’ve blogged about the 2005 sliver sluggers (7) who played here. And I mentioned on the radio show that nine gold gloves honed their craft in the AFL.
Now we can add two more Rookies of the Year to the ever-growing list of accomplishments. Not only did both winners this year — Huston Street and Ryan Howard — play in the AFL, they were here last year. Think their experiences in Arizona prepared them for the bigs? Especially for Street, who didn’t spend much time in the Minors, getting to face the advanced competition of the AFL had to be very important not only for his development, but for the organization to be sure he was ready at least to compete for a big league job (I’m proud to say I featured Howardi n a Spring Training story about prospects who were stuck behind veterans and didn’t have a place to play even though they were ready for the bigs. Also on that list were Dan Johnson, Casey Kotchman, Andy Marte — who’ll face that fact again next year — and Eric Duncan, who has begun the move to first base to become unstuck. But I digress).
Street and Howard join a pretty impressive list of 11 other AFL alumni who went on to win Rookies of the Year. Here’s a list, with the year each player played in the Fall League and the year they took home top rookie honors:
AL — Bobby Crosby (2002, won 2004); Eric Hinske (2000/2001, won 2003); Ben Grieve (1996, 1998); Nomar Garciaparra (1994, 1997); Derek Jeter (1994, 1996); Marty Cordova (1994, 1995); Bob Hamelin (1992, 1994)
NL — Albert Pujols (2000, won in 2001); Scott Williamson (1998, 1999); Todd Hollandsworth (1993, 1996); Mike Piazza (1992, 1993)
As you can see, it’s not every day that a player goes straight from the AFL to the big leagues the next year and wins Rookie of the Year. It’s happened to four other players; fans of the Phillies and A’s better hope Street and Howard turn out more like Piazza and Pujols and not Cordova or even Hollandsworth.
I’ll be back tomorrow with more on rookies. perhaps looking into my crystal ball at which 2005 AFL performers may have a shot at some 2006 hardware.