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Happ falls just shy of top NL rookie

Happ falls just shy of top NL rookie

PHILADELPHIA -- J.A. Happ had one of the best rookie seasons for a Phillies pitcher in franchise history, so he knew he had a good chance to be named National League Rookie of the Year.

But Happ learned Monday that he fell just short. He finished 11 points behind Florida Marlins left fielder Chris Coghlan, 105-94, making it the third-closest NL Rookie of the Year vote this decade. Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Ryan Braun beat Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki by two votes, 128-126, in 2007. Florida Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez beat Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman by four votes, 105-101, in 2006.

"It was definitely nice to be in the mix," Happ said Monday in a telephone interview. "It was hard to say how it would stack up when comparing a hitter and a pitcher, but I was very confident with the entire season I had. But second place is second place, and that's really no consolation for me. I was really hoping to win, so it's definitely disappointing. But I'm still proud of the way the year went."

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Coghlan led NL rookies in average (.321), runs (84), hits (162), doubles (31), total bases (232), multihit games (51) and on-base percentage (.390). Coghlan also posted back-to-back 47-hit months -- becoming the first NL player with 94 hits in a two-month span since 1978 -- and finished sixth in the NL in batting average. Happ was 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA and topped NL rookie pitchers in innings (166), strikeouts (119), complete games (three) and shutouts (two). He had the most wins for any Phillies rookie since Tom Underwood had 14 in 1975. Happ's ERA ranks 11th in franchise history among rookies, and was the lowest since Ben Tincup had a 2.61 ERA in 1914.

"In general I think I met a couple goals this season," Happ said. "First, make the team and establish myself. And I think the biggest one for me was try to do something special. I think this season is something to build off. It's going to be a challenge to try to repeat that success."

Coghlan got 17 first-place votes, but was missing completely from seven of 32 ballots. Happ was the only pitcher to get a vote on every ballot. Coghlan placed second on six ballots and third on two. Happ got 11 second-place votes and 11 third-place votes. 

Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson received two first-place votes and finished third with 37 points. Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen finished fourth with 25 points. The other first-place vote went to Brewers infielder Casey McGehee.

Happ's second-place finish was the highest for a Phillies player since Ryan Howard won the award in 2005.

"Maybe this Rookie of the Year thing will give me more motivation," Happ said. "Not that I needed it. But I'll make sure I'm in great shape coming into Spring Training."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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