Buster Posey, Neftali Feliz are baseball's rookies of the year

Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants waves to the crowd during the team's victory parade Nov. 3. He was named National League rookie of the year by a wide margin. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants waves to the crowd during the team's victory parade Nov. 3. He was named National League rookie of the year by a wide margin. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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By Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 16, 2010; 12:19 AM

Two young players who occupied crucial roles for teams that ultimately met each other in the World Series - San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey and Texas Rangers closer Neftali Feliz - were named rookies of the year for the National and American leagues, respectively, on Monday.

Posey and Feliz saw less action than they anticipated in 2010. Posey, who spent the first two months of the season in the minors, didn't arrive in San Francisco until May 29, while Feliz, a converted starter, accumulated only 69 innings out of the Rangers' bullpen. The fact that each prevailed over talented rookie classes in their respective leagues speaks to the brilliance of their performances in those limited opportunities.

Posey hit .305 with 18 homers and 67 RBI, and gradually became arguably the Giants' most indispensable player after his arrival, eventually sliding into the cleanup spot in their lineup and gaining the trust of a star-laden pitching staff that ranked as the best in the majors.

Posey, who received 20 of the possible 32 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, won by a comfortable margin over Atlanta Braves right fielder Jason Heyward, who received eight first-place votes.

"I'm just extremely humbled to have won this award," Posey said during a conference call with reporters Monday. "It wasn't something I necessarily thought about when I got called up, but it's surreal to have won this award."

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jaime Garcia (one) and Florida Marlins left fielder Gaby Sanchez (two) received the remaining first-place votes and finished third and fourth, respectively.

Although nine different players received at least one first-, second- or third-place vote, none were members of the Washington Nationals - as the team's talented crop of 2010 rookies, which included pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen and shortstop Ian Desmond, was shut out.

Feliz, who set a rookie record with 40 saves this season (in 43 save opportunities), received 20 of the possible 28 first-place votes in the AL balloting, with Detroit Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson taking the other eight. Lefty Brian Matusz of the Baltimore Orioles received three third-place votes to finish seventh out of the seven players who were named on ballots.

Feliz went to spring training expecting to be a part of the Rangers' starting rotation but was converted to a closer during the spring.

"Things didn't work out [in the rotation], but of course I'm always willing to help the team and I tried to do my best as closer," Feliz said through a translator. "Our focus was to win it all."

Feliz and Posey faced off only once in the 2010 World Series, with Posey reaching on an infield single in the eighth inning of the Giants' win in the decisive Game 5.


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