Miley deserves NL Rookie of the Year honors
If Arizona's Wade Miley doesn't win the National League Rookie of the Year Award, there should be an investigation.
There's always a strong argument among Baseball Writers' Association of America voters that a pitcher, who works every fifth day, shouldn't receive the attention of a player who's on the field every day.
That's the strong case for the Nationals' Bryce Harper and the Reds' Todd Frazier -- the other finalists. They had impressive seasons, but fell short of Miley's accomplishments. He should win the award named when results are announced on Monday.
2012 Rookie of the Year finalists
|American League||National League|
|Mike Trout, LAA||Todd Frazier, CIN|
|Strong AL field||Bryce Harper, WAS|
|Wade Miley, ARI|
"He may not be the popular choice, but he's the right choice," said his manager, Kirk Gibson. "He just attacks the zone. You might expect veteran guys like Cliff Lee to do that, but Wade's a rookie who does it. How many rookies do that? If you look at his season, it's unmatched."
The 25-year-old left-hander, who pitched in eight games after being summoned from the Minor Leagues late in 2011, solidified the D-backs' 2012 pitching staff that was in a state of disarray when 16-game winner Daniel Hudson was lost for the season with an injury after just nine outings.
Miley, however, stepped up. He led all D-backs pitchers with 16 victories and gave his team 18 quality starts.
"He was fantastic, and clearly our most consistent starter," said D-backs president Derrick Hall. "I am biased, but I strongly believe he deserves Rookie of the Year. He was dominant most of the season, which is difficult to accomplish as a rookie."
Among NL rookie pitchers, Miley was first in five categories -- ERA (3.33), wins (16), winning percentage (.593), innings pitched (194 2/3) and strikeouts (144). Those 16 wins tied the Rangers' Yu Darvish for the Major League lead for rookies, and the 3.33 ERA led all rookie starters.
Miley walked just 37 batters; his strikeout-to-walk ratio was 10th in the Major Leagues and first among rookie pitchers.
"With Hudson going down, he was a pleasant surprise," said Arizona general manager Kevin Towers. "We always liked him a lot, but he really developed into one of the best left-handers in our league. He's very aggressive, a quick-tempo pitcher who keeps opposing hitters off-balance. He has no fear."
Miley possesses a fastball that reaches 95 mph, which he used about 75 percent of the time, complementing it with a slider, curve, cutter and changeup.
Scouts told me Miley's obvious key to effectiveness was his outstanding command, and his ability to keep his pitches down in the strike zone. Left-handed hitters struggled against him.
"If you look how Miley's pitching stacks up against the whole league as a rookie -- peers who have been in the game for years -- that's why he should be Rookie of the Year," argued Gibson.
Miley is almost nonchalant about the prospects of winning the award.
"It's whatever," he said. "I don't put too much thought on that stuff. If it happens, it happens. If not, I'm going to wake up the next morning and do whatever. It's not going to break my heart or anything."
Actually, the way Miley's 2012 season evolved was somewhat of a surprise. He was 4-2 with a 4.50 ERA in 2011's late-season games, which did not affect his rookie status for this year.
"I was a little star struck getting to the Major Leagues," Miley said. "I just didn't feel comfortable. I believe my early-season success this year helped. I just got rhythm and built a great relationship with the catchers.
"I kind of expected to be in the bullpen, but I've always been a starter. I like doing it, so when I got an opportunity, I didn't want to lose it."
Miley made his first start of 2012, filling in for the injured Hudson, on April 23 against Philadelphia.
"I didn't know I was starting until the night before," said Miley, who stifled the Phillies on two hits through six scoreless innings, and struck out seven in a 9-5 Arizona win. "I wasn't real sure what was going on. It really doesn't matter [starting or relieving].
"Whenever you get to pitch, just go out and pitch."
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was impressed with the poise of the young left-hander.
"He was aggressive and had good stuff," Manuel remembered. "Against us, he had a good fastball and his command was good. I think he's going to get a lot better with experience."
Prior to that start, Miley had pitched out of the bullpen in three games.
"Building confidence and having success early out of the bullpen helped me out a lot," he said.
Miley earlier was named the Sporting News NL Rookie of the Year, an award chosen by the vote of 203 Major League players.
"It's an honor coming from the players," he said after that announcement.
After winnings nine of 14 decisions and compiling a 3.04 ERA, Miley was the D-backs' lone representative at the All-Star Game.
He started the ninth inning, allowed a single to Minnesota's Joe Mauer, but got the Rangers' Elvis Andrus to ground into a force out for his night's work in the NL's 8-0 victory.
Now, Miley should add the BBWAA's NL Rookie of the Year to his season's accomplishments.
Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.