Rangers’ closer Neftali Feliz wins AL Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year

Texas Rangers righthander Neftali Feliz, who set a major league record for saves by a pitcher in his first major-league season with 40, was voted the American League winner of the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award.

Feliz, 22, was listed first on 20 of the 28 ballots submitted by two writers in each league city, second on seven and third on one to amass 122 points, based on the 5-3-1 tabulation system. Voting was conducted before the start of the postseason.

Feliz’s saves total broke the previous rookie mark of 37 by 2000 winner Kazuhiro Sasaki of the Seattle Mariners.

Feliz, who had a 4-3 record with a 2.73 earned run average in 70 relief appearances, is the first Dominican pitcher to win the award and the third winner from the Dominican Republic overall, joining Alfredo Griffin and Angel Berroa. Dominican-born winners in the National League were Raul Mondesi, Rafael Furcal, Albert Pujols and Hanley Ramirez.

A closer has won the AL award three times in the past six years. Oakland’s Andrew Bailey won in 2009 and Huston Street in 2005. Feliz is the fifth closer honored. The first was the Baltimore’s Gregg Olson in 1989. New York Yankees pitcher Dave Righetti was a starter when he won the award in 1981.

Detroit Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson, who received the other eight first-place votes, was the runner-up in the balloting with 98 points. Jackson led all AL rookies in runs (103), hits (151), doubles (34), triples (10), extra-base hits (48), stolen bases (27) and total bases (247).

Feliz is the second Rangers player to win the award. The other was first baseman Mike Hargrove in 1974.

The voting:

2010 AL Rookie of the Year

Neftali Feliz, Texas Rangers2071122
Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers819198
Danny Valencia, Minnesota Twins1912
Wade Davis, Tampa Bay Rays1111
John Jaso, Tampa Bay Rays13
Brennan Boesch, Detroit Tigers33
Brian Matusz, Baltimore Orioles33