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Armed with a mid-90s fastball and a devastating circle-change, Edinson Volquez burst on the scene in 2008 as one of baseball's best young pitchers. After finishing his first season in Cincinnati with a 17-6 record and 3.21 ERA, the 25-year-old right-hander placed fourth in this year's NL Rookie of the Year voting.
Only one problem: Volquez was not a rookie.
According to this "official info" on MLB.com, "A player shall be considered a rookie unless, during a previous season or seasons, he has (a) exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues."
Well, that's interesting, because prior to that now-famous Volquez-for-Josh Hamilton trade, Volquez had already logged 80 innings for the Rangers from 2005-07. Remember, the 50-innings barrier refers to "a previous season or seasons."
To make sure I hadn't lost my mind, I placed a call to the MLB offices. The governing body of our nation's pastime confirmed it: Volquez definitely wasn't a rookie in 2008.
With this knowledge in hand, I contacted the folks who actually hand out this award: The Baseball Writers' Association of America. BBWAA secretary/treasurer Jack O'Connell graciously admitted the oversight: "It was a mistake. It slipped through the cracks."
Turns out three writers incorrectly filled out ballots with Volquez in second place, and BBWA didn't catch the error. Although BBWAA usually picks off flawed ballots before they are counted, O'Connell disclosed that this has happened "multiple times" in the past. BBWAA will not correct the mistake because it would not change the winner (Chicago's Geovany Soto).
"Luckily it didn't affect the outcome," O'Connell said. "Consider it the missing chad."
Even though he had absolutely nothing to do with this award or its voting, one man is going to take some unnecessary heat for this embarrassing gaffe: America's favorite whipping boy, Bud Selig.