Yesterday, the winners of the 2018 MLB Rookie of the Year winner were announced, and I’d like to say congratulations to the two winners; the Angels P/DH Shohei Ohtani and the Braves OF Ronald Acuna.
There was a TON of controversy regarding the American League winner, and I can understand it. Ohtani had a great year, don’t get me wrong, as he was dubbed “The modern-day Babe Ruth” before the season had even started.
Ohtani started 10 games on the mound, going 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA, a 11.0 K/9, and a 126 ERA+. That’s a pretty good year for a rookie pitcher, but then when you factor in that he was DHing on the side, then it becomes more impressive. In 326 at-bats, Ohtani had a .285 BA with a .926 OPS, and a 152 OPS+. He managed to pop 22 home runs and driving in 61 runs. It’s a shame that arm troubles cut his season as a pitcher short because he did seem like he could’ve cemented himself in baseball history while dominating on both sides of the ball. All in all, when you account for everything did in his rookie campaign, it’s pretty hard to pick against him for AL ROTY. However, even though I said in September that Ohtani could shock some people and beat out the Yankees Miguel Andujar (aren’t I the smartest?), this still feels like Miggy was robbed.
Andujar had a .297 batting average, set the rookie record for doubles in a season with 47, blasted 27 home runs, drove in 92 runs, and had an OPS+ of 126. That is an excellent season for anyone, let alone a rookie.
As a Red Sox fan, anytime the two teams were squaring off and Andujar came to the plate, he instilled fear in you. Whenever he was up, you knew he was going to do something to hurt you. Sure, he was absolutely pitiful in the field, but the offense made up for it. Maybe the voters really did put that much emphasis on Ohtani being a pitcher AND a hitter.
While I think that the right choice was made in Ohtani, I can understand why Yankee fans are losing their shit. Still, it’s fun to laugh at the Yankees.
Ohtani is only the 4th Japanese born player to win the rookie of the year, and the first since Ichiro in 2001 to do so.
Now onto the National League, where there was far less debate about who should’ve won. Although statistically, both players were incredibly close as far as production goes, you could’ve really flipped a coin and it would’ve made sense. The Braves Ronald Acuna barely edged out the Nationals Juan Soto for ROTY honors.
Both players came out hot, as Acuna burst onto the Major league scene by homering in his second big league game, to which Soto followed up by hitting a home run in his debut.
Acuna remained hot basically throughout the season, famously going through a stretch where he homered in 5 straight games, 3 of which were leadoff bombs. Acuna would finish the year with 26 home runs, a .293 batting average, a .917 OPS, and an OPS+ of 144. Like Andujar, that’s a great season for anyone, but the fact he was a rookie makes it that much crazier. Soto’s numbers were far off, as he hit .292 with 22 home runs, drove in 77 runs, had an OPS of .923 and an OPS+ of 142.
I think what separates the two players was that Acuna was a driving force behind the Braves resurgence and them ultimately usurping the Nationals, and Soto, for the NL Division title. And I know that if you apply the logic to the AL Rookie of the year race than Andujar should’ve won but I don’t know dude, baseball is confusing.
Anyways, congratulations to Ohtani and Acuna on terrific seasons. Hopefully, there are many more to come.
Photo by Loren Elliot/ Getty Images