An unknown entering the year, Jaime Garcia made a name for himself by summer’s end. And the rookie’s name was among the top pitchers in baseball during the Year of the Pitcher.
Garcia finished fourth in the National League in ERA, his name surrounded by perennial All-Stars and Cy Young candidates Josh Johnson, teammate Adam Wainwright, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Tim Hudson.
If you take away the names and look solely at production, the St. Louis Cardinals lefty could have been mistaken for any of the above superstars. He compiled a 13-8 record with a 2.70 ERA in 163 1/3 innings. With a little bit of luck and a few more wins, he could have been a serious Cy Young contender.
And yet, despite all his achievements, Garcia’s name was not called when the Rookie of the Year award was announced today. Instead, Buster Posey was honored for his outstanding performance for the world champion San Francisco Giants this summer.
The young catcher didn’t even start the season in the big leagues, but when he arrived in late May, he made an immediate impact. Posey hit everything he saw in his first few weeks and maintained consistency all summer to hit .305 with 18 home runs and 67 RBIs in 108 games. He also played a critical role in the Giants World Series run. The 23-year-old looks like he has all the makings to be a star for a very long time behind the plate.
Heyward was perhaps the most hyped rookie coming into the year. He was the next big thing and the future face of the game. The Braves rookie wasted no time to display his talents by hitting a three-run bomb in his first major league at bat against the Chicago Cubs. He slowed down and struggled at times, but by season’s end, he batted .277 with 18 homers and 72 RBIs. It was a solid rookie campaign for a resurgent Braves team in Bobby Cox’s final season.
It was just a bad timing for Garcia as he had to compete with two special players for the award.
His case wasn’t helped when he had to shut it down in September. The club took the cautious route with his young arm after experiencing some pain in his left elbow. He had already had Tommy John surgery once in his career, and the Cards were out of the playoff picture so it was an easy call.
Despite the disappointing end, his season was one to remember in St. Louis. He was one of the few bright spots for the 2010 club and remains a big reason for its bright future. Teaming up with Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter in the rotation gives the Redbirds reason for optimism heading into next season.
Garcia showed great poise and feel for the game all season. He appears to have the mental make-up and physical ability to join the likes of Johnson, Halladay, Wainwright, and Oswalt for years to come.
“Jaime Garcia” might not be etched on a Rookie of the Year trophy, but 2010 will certainly remember the name.