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11/15/09 3:12 PM EST

NL ROY Award in offing for Happ?

Phils lefty produced 12 victories in first big league season

PHILADELPHIA -- J.A. Happ had a successful but sometimes stressful rookie season with the Phillies.

It culminates Monday when the Baseball Writers' Association of America announces the National League Rookie of the Year Award. Happ is a candidate after he went 12-4 with a 2.94 ERA for the NL champions, but Marlins outfielder Chris Coghlan could be considered the the favorite, with Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson and Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen also top candidates.

Happ's 12 wins were the most for a Phillies rookie since Tom Underwood won 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.

But it wasn't easy. Happ competed with right-hander Chan Ho Park in Spring Training for the final spot in the rotation, but Park got the job. Happ started the season in the bullpen, pitched well and took Park's place in the rotation in May.

Everything went smoothly until the Phillies started talking with the Blue Jays about a trade for Roy Halladay. The Jays wanted Happ in the deal. Happ had to hear about the talks for weeks until the Phillies acquired Cliff Lee from the Indians on July 29.

Happ then had to wonder where he would fit on the postseason pitching staff. He started Game 3 of the NL Division Series against the Rockies, but spent the rest of the time in the bullpen.

However, Happ proved capable of getting big league hitters out, and his spot in the Phillies' rotation in 2010 is already penciled in.

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