There is no denying that J.A. Happ had a great rookie season for the Phillies. The 27 year old left-hander started the year in the Phillies bullpen, having narrowly lost the battle for the fifth spot in the rotation to Chan Ho Park.
Then, as Park proved once again that he's better suited for relieving than for starting, Happ moved into the rotation and his season really took off.
Happ went 10-4 with a 2.99 ERA as a starter, making 23 starts and averaging just over six innings per start for the Phillies. Overall, Happ was 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA during the regular season.
For a chunk of the season, the Rookie of the Year battle figured to be waged by Happ and Atlanta's Tommy Hanson. By the end of the season, the two had posted very similar stat lines, with Hanson going 11-4, 2.89 in 21 starts with Atlanta.
When all was said and done though, Florida's Chris Coghlan rose to the top of the rookie ranks in the National League. Coghlan, who moved to left field from his usual second base, hit .321 in 128 games for the Marlins. Prior to making his major league debut with Florida, Coghlan had played at second and third base in the minors and had just one minor league game in left field to prepare him for playing the position in the majors. Even with little time in left field, Coghlan made just five errors and finished with a .977 fielding percentage [the National League average for a left fielder was .982 in 2009.]
Coghlan led all NL rookies in batting average (.321), runs (84), hits (162), total bases (232) and on-base percentage (.390).
Happ, who was at the center of trade rumors during the season, figures to be in the starting rotation from opening day on in 2010, unless the trade rumors resurface and come true over the off-season. Happ could be the centerpiece of a deal to acquire Toronto's Roy Halladay.
The final voting had Coghlan receiving 17 first place votes and a total of 105 points, while Happ received eight first place votes and a total of 94 points. Hanson finished a distant third with just two first place votes and 37 points. Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen and Milwaukee's Casey McGehee rounded out the top five.
Oakland reliever Andrew Bailey picked up the AL Rookie of the Year honor, with the Rangers Elvis Andrus and Detroit's Ricky Porcello finishing second and third.
J.A. Happ vs. Tommy Hanson