As expected, Jose Abreu was unanimously voted as the 2014 American League Jackie Robinson (Rookie) of the Year. However, for fans of the Los Angeles Angels, another name was the primary suspect of the award.
Matt Shoemaker put together a field 2014 campaign, one of the best by a first year player for the Angels. Shoemaker finished with 16 wins, the most by an Angels rookie ever, a 3.04 ERA, 1.074 WHIP, and 124 strikeouts in 136 innings pitched. Shoemaker ranked in the top five all-time for Angels rookies in wins (most ever), ERA (4th), WHIP (2nd), strikeouts (5th), and strikeouts per nine (2nd).
Shoemaker's impact on the field was far beyond the numbers though, coming into the 2014 season as a long reliever and landing in Triple-A after the first month of the season. The Angels suddenly lost pitching depth as the season went on, and he turned himself into a guy to be reckoned with, taking over what looked like the ace role at the end of the season.
In his final ten starts of the season, Shoemaker put together a seven quality starts, and maintained a 1.55 ERA over that span, with a 0.895 WHIP, while holding opposing batters to a .211/.247/.295 slash.
Shoemaker, joined the Angels as an undrafted free agent, and worked his way through the minor league system until making his debut late in the 2013 season.
"There was definitely a little extra drive factor," Shoemaker told MLB Network, about going undrafted. "Just keep going and doing what I can do."
Shoemaker finished second in voting for the award, receiving 12 second place votes and four third place votes, gaining 40 points in the final voting, 13 points ahead of third place, Dellin Betances of the New York Yankees.
"It’s a blessing to be here every day. It’s definitely an honor to be even nominated in this category."