Archive for Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Street, Howard win rookie honors

Oakland produces second straight rookie of the year and sixth overall with former Texas standout

November 8, 2005

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— 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 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 outfielder Willy Taveras, who got 78 points. Atlanta 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 because of a season-ending elbow injury and went 5-1 with 23 saves in 27 chances and a 1.72 earned-run average - second among AL closers to New York's 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 781â3 innings, and opponents batted only .194 against him.

One day early in the season, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel compared Howard to a young Willie Stargell, the Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer. Howard long had been a touted slugger in the minors, but his path to the majors appeared blocked until 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 RBIs 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 RBIs in September and October, helping Philadelphia come within one game of a wild-card berth.

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