There wasn’t much drama to be had in this year’s Rookie of the Year awards in baseball. We knew the American League award would go to the New York Yankees’ home-run swatting star Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers would take home the NL award. The question was whether both would be unanimous.
The answer: Yes.
That was confirmed Monday, as the Baseball Writers Association of America revealed the winners and the ballots. Judge and his rookie record 52 homers were unanimous. So were Bellinger and NL rookie record 39 homers. It’s the first time in 20 years that both Rookie of the Year winners were unanimous and fourth time it’s happened in MLB history.
With Judge in first place, Andrew Benintendi of the Boston Red Sox finished second with 23 second-place votes and Trey Mancini of the Baltimore Orioles finished third with five second-place votes. Matt Olsen of the Oakland Athletics finished fourth and Yuli Gurriel of the Houston Astros finished fifth.
In the NL, Paul DeJong of the St. Louis Cardinals finished second with 15 second-place votes and Josh Bell of the Pittsburgh Pirates finished third with 10 second-place votes. Rhys Hoskins of the Philadelphia Phillies finished fourth and German Marquez of the Colorado Rockies finished fifth.
At least the voting could provide some drama, because Judge and Bellinger had their respective awards all sewn up by July 1, as both of them homered at historic rates and played big parts in their teams’ success.
Judge, 25, was the biggest no-brainer of any awards category this year. He broke the rookie home run record by blasting 52 of them. He hit 284/.422/.627 on the season and is a strong finalist for the MVP award too. He was an integral part of the Yankees’ surprising run to the postseason in 2017. So Judge not winning this award would have been the most dumbfounding thing to happen in sports this decade.
You can knock Judge for his strikeouts, which were plentiful and record-setting in a different way, and his post-All Star game slump, which got pretty ugly around August. But his September was a return to form, hitting 15 homers with 32 RBIs and helping the Yankees to the postseason. Now that it’s official, Judge is the ninth Yankees player to win the Rookie of the Year award and second to win it unanimously. Derek Jeter was the other. Not bad company.
Bellinger, 22, gives the Dodgers back-to-back Rookie of the Year winners, following Corey Seager’s award in 2016. Like Seager, Bellinger wasn’t even a question. His 39 homers set an NL rookie record. That they came in just 132 games is even more impressive. Bellinger also hit .267/.352/.581 for the Dodgers and played above-average defense.
Like Judge, Bellinger struck out a good amount — enough to earn some critics, but not nearly enough to consider giving this award to anyone else. Now Bellinger is the 18th Dodgers player (no, that’s not a typo) to win Rookie of the Year, including Jackie Robinson, for whom the award is named.
Here’s a look at the full rundown of AL and NL Rookie of the Year vote-getters:
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