Rookies of the Year: Acuña & Ohtani
Both of this year's Rookies of the Year were what most people expected: Ronaldo Acuña of the Atlanata Braves and Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels. Ohtani, the 24-year old "Japanese Babe Ruth" who excels at both pitching and slugging, received 25 of 30 first-place votes on the AL side. (Both other finalists were Yankees: Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres.) At the plate, Ohtani batted .285 with 22 home runs, and on the mound he had a 3.31 ERA with 63 strikeouts. Even if he didn't fully live up to the sky-high preseason hype, he proved he is a top-notch player.
On the National League side, Ronaldo Acuña received 27 of 30 first-place votes, with only two going to Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals. In third place was Dodgers' pitcher Walker Buehler. Given the fact that most of their statistics were very close to each other, I was surprised that the voting wasn't closer. For much of the summer, I thought that Juan Soto would be a heavy favorite as NL Rookie of the Year, but then I started hearing about Acuña, who was very impressive in many ways. I was disappointed in the voting, but I'm not upset. The numbers below (see MLB.com and/or Washington Post) provide only part of the story.
|Ronaldo Acuña||Juan Soto|
Three non-batting factors weighed in Acuña's favor: base-running, defense, and the fact that his team won the division. Acuña began playing in April, a full month before Soto debuted in the majors, yet even so, Soto ended up playing more games (116 to 111).
For his part, Soto tied, came a close second, or set several records for teenage major league players. He beat Mel Ott for the most number of teen walks (since 1900), and tied Bryce Harper for second-most teen home runs (22), behind Tony Conigliaro. (Six years ago, Bryce Harper was named the National League Rookie of the Year.) Even though he didn't win, Soto proved himself extremely valuable to his team. He was extremely poised for such a young player, working long counts and repeatedly getting clutch hits that his faltering team desperatedly needed. Having turned 20 just last month, he has a very promising future ahead of him in Washington, while Bryce Harper is presently an enigma...