Wally Joyner has recovered nicely from the shoulder injury that reduced his effectiveness during the final two months of the regular season.
He has rebounded from the blood infection that forced him to miss the Angels’ final four games of the American League playoffs against the Boston Red Sox.
Tuesday, however, he seemed to be hurting in another way.
He found it hard to accept the vote by a 28-member committee of the Baseball Writers Assn. of America that gave the American League’s Rookie of the Year Award to Jose Canseco, the Oakland A’s left fielder.
Said Joyner, the Angel first baseman: “In a nutshell, I’m a little disappointed. I don’t think anyone can ever tell me that he had a better year. We both deserved it, but I felt I had the edge. I felt I helped my team out more than he did. Day in and day out, I played a more important role than Jose Canseco did.”
In a stunning year for American League rookies, only Canseco and Joyner were named on all 28 ballots. Canseco received 16 first-place votes, 9 second-place votes, 3 third-place votes for 110 points based on five for first, three for second and one for third. Joyner received 12 first-place votes, 11 second-place votes, 5 third-place votes for 98 points.
Toronto relief pitcher Mark Eichorn was third with 23 points followed by Cleveland’s versatile Cory Snyder with 16, Seattle second baseman and soon-to-be right fielder Danny Tartabull with 4 and Texas right fielder Ruben Sierra with 1.
How tough was the competition?
Texas left fielder Pete Incaviglia, who hit 30 home runs and drove in 88 runs, failed to get even one vote.
Canseco, a defensive liability who batted .240 and struck out 175 times as the A’s tied for third in the Western Division, obviously swayed the electorate by slugging 33 homers to finish fourth in the league and driving in 117 runs, second only to 121 by Cleveland’s Joe Carter.
“I thought I had the edge because I had so many more home runs and runs batted in (than Joyner),” Canseco told Oakland reporters. “Then again, he’s playing in Anaheim where they have more media attention and he helped his team win.”
In winning the West, the Angels finished 16 games ahead of the A’s.
A stylish fielder, Joyner batted .290, hit 22 homers and drove in 100 runs. He had a significant impact in the first half when the Angels opened a lead. He hit .313 with 20 homers and 72 RBIs before the All-Star break, then, burdened with the sore shoulder, hit only .257 with 2 homers and 28 RBIs after the break.
Of the injury and the impact of his second half on the vote, Joyner said, “It’s kind of hard to swallow knowing the reason for my slow second half and knowing it probably (cost him the award). I think my first half was almost forgotten after his great finish and the terrible finish I had. Going into the All-Star break the Angels were in first place and I felt I had a lot to do with that. I didn’t carry anyone, but with the slow start some of our guys had, it was imperative I had a start like that.”
Visiting his in-laws in Kensington, Md., Joyner was connected by conference call to four writers at Anaheim Stadium. If perplexed by a vote that seemed to disregard his impact on a division winner and his better overall statistics, he was confused by the fact that he had finished far ahead of Canseco in voting for the Most Valuable Player Award. Joyner was eighth with 74 votes. Canseco was 20th with only three.
On Tuesday, Joyner sought the views of the four writers and was given the consensus opinion that the Rookie of the Year, as differentiated from the MVP, is looked on basically as an individual honor based on one or two statistical categories.
Said Joyner: “I thought we were close enough (statistically) that the voters would have looked for something else, but all that a Rookie of the Year has to do, I guess, is put some numbers on the board. I don’t think my impact on the team was considered at all. I was surprised there was as much difference in the MVP voting and I was surprised again by this.
“He beat me in home runs and RBIs and had a small edge in runs (85-82). I beat him in batting average and on-base average (.348 to .318) and we tied in slugging percentage (.457). There was a big difference in strikeouts, of course (Joyner had only 58).
“Offensively, I thought it was even, a tossup. Defensively, there was no comparison. I played the infield, he played the outfield. I made 15 errors, he made 14. That’s quite a lot for an outfielder. I helped my team win, his team finished last (the only statistic Joyner had wrong). He didn’t contribute to that, but you also can’t say he helped the A’s that much either.”
Canseco, as stipulated in his contract, received a $5,000 bonus for winning the award. Joyner would have received $10,000. Despite his disappointment, Joyner said that close friends took the vote harder than he did.
He said it would have been great to win but he didn’t want to say anything that could be construed as sour grapes.
“Jose is a friend. I’m happy for him,” Joyner said. “He deserved to win as much as I did. He put up some great numbers and I’m sure it was hard for him considering where his team finished.
“My only regret is that I couldn’t play in the last four games of the playoff, but I have that year under my belt now and I expect to learn from it, grow from it and continue to improve.”