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Is Paps the 2006 AL Rookie of the Year?

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There are four candidates for this year's AL ROY. Who are they? I know you know, but let's still save what little suspense there is for another paragraph or two.

First, is it going to be a pitcher? Yes. Yes it is. There are a number of great Rookie position players this year, but all of them are in the National League. In fact, the top 7 rookies in VORP are all in the NL. (They are: Han-Ram, Dan Uggla, Andre Ethier, Ryan Zimmerman, Josh Barfield, Josh Willingham, Chris Duncan.) The 8th best rookie is an AL player, and it's none other than Nick Markakis of the O's. He's got a solid VORP of 22.4 and a downright great EqA of .295, but that ain't good enough to win the award. Not this year. In the AL, this is the year of the pitcher.

As I stated in the opening paragraph, there are basically four candidates for the trophy. Their names are Liriano, Verlander, Weaver and Papelbon. Let me put some stats before you to give you an overview. All important stats step forward! Appappapp... not so fast, "Wins"!

F-Liro: 49.2 VORP, 2.19 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 2.42 BB/9, 10.74 K/9 (119 IP)
J-Ver: 47.3 VORP, 3.27 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 2.84 BB/9, 6.11 K/9 (165 IP)
J-Wea: 40.1 VORP, 2.16 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 2.25 BB/9, 7.41 K/9 (96 IP)
J-Pap: 38.3 VORP, 0.92 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 1.71 BB/9, 9.88 K/9 (68.3 IP)

(Please take special note of the wicked cool A-Rod-style nicknames I gave them. It's not at all because I don't know how to html-code a table and that the rows would get even more uneven and odd with their names having different number of letters. I promise. It's because nicknames are fun. The extra "o" in Liriano's nickname, you wonder? Just be quiet!)

Anyway, this is where I usually decide where I stand. On this topic, however, I'm not entirely sure what to think. All four of them are excellent candidates in their own right. Liriano has some insane numbers (10.74 K/9?!), but he's been hurt for the stretch run. Should that matter? Verlander has been the best starter on a team with awesome pitching. He's also amassed more than 150 IP. He clearly has the worst ERA and WHIP of the four candidates, though. Weaver has been as good as anyone else, but he was called up late so he only has 96 IP. Still, he has the lowest ERA and WHIP of the three starters. Paps has the lowest ERA, WHIP and BB/9 rate of all four and strikes out almost 10 per nine innings. He is a closer, though, so he only has 68.3 IP. Still, where would the Red Sox be without him? Five more games behind? Even more than that?

I'm gonna take the coward's way out and pose the question to you lads. I fully seriously can't decide.

Who is the 2006 AL Rookie of the Year?