Shohei Ohtani wins American League Rookie of the Year
Both leagues had very interesting Rookie of the Year races to watch this year, and the American League was perhaps the most unique of our time. In one corner there was Miguel Andújar, a fairly straight-forward candidate. The Yankees third baseman does not provide much value defensively, but he was a consistent presence in the middle of a playoff lineup. New York dealt with injuries this year, and at times Andújar carried them when they needed it most. He ended the year hitting .297/.328/.527 for a 128 wRC+. In the other corner there was Shohei Ohtani. We’ve never seen anything like Shohei Ohtani. The Angels rookie pitched like an ace and was also one of the best hitters in the game. At least in terms of talent, he lived up to the hype. He would be an easy choice for this award, except he missed some time. For as great as he was, Ohtani pitched only 51 innings and received 367 plate appearances. How does that match up with Anújar’s 606 plate appearances? That was the big question, and the answer was favorably. Ohtani won the vote by a little more than I expected and received 25 of 30 first-place votes. Andújar finished second with Joey Wendle of the Rays finishing third and Daniel Palka of the White Sox and Ryan Yarbrough of the Rays tying for fourth.
Ronald Acuña wins National League Rookie of the Year
The American League was an intriguing battle with the most unique player in a century, but the National League was arguably an even better race between two just straight-up amazing young players. Ronald Acuña was the slight favorite coming in, having a better overall season than his competitor while also playing on a playoff team. Acuña hit .293/.366/.552 for a 143 wRC+ with good defense and baserunning. He’s also 20 years old. Juan Soto, meanwhile, started the year in High-A but before too long the 19-year-old was in the Nationals lineup and he never looked back. Acuña was the better overall player, but Soto was the more exciting presence at the plate and the guy who looked like a legitimate monster in the middle of any lineup for the next 20 years. Soto hit .292/.406/.517 for a 146 wRC+. Ultimately, Acuña’s all-around skillset likely put him over the top, but these two are going to be battling for years to come in the National League East. Acuña received 27 first place votes. Soto finished second, while Walker Buehler of the Dodgers finished third, Brian Anderson of the Marlins finished fourth, Jack Flaherty of the Cardinals finished fifth, and Harrison Bader of the Cardinals, Yoshihisa Hirano of the Diamondbacks and Jeff McNiel of the Mets tied for sixth.
Six of Seven Qualifying offers were rejected
On Monday, we learned that Craig Kimbrel had officially rejected his qualifying offer, meaning he was now free to sign with whomever he pleased and the Red Sox would receive compensation whenever he agreed to a deal. Kimbrel wasn’t the only player to make that decision on Monday. The following five players also rejected their qualifying offers: Bryce Harper, Patrick Corbin, A.J. Pollock, Dallas Keuchel and Yasmani Grandal. So, if the Red Sox are interested in any of those players (Grandal is probably the most likely, but I’d be surprised if they seriously pursued any) they’d be forced to hand over their second and fourth round picks along with $1 million in international signing money.
With those six players rejecting the offer, that does leave one player who did not reject the offer. That was Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, who decided to sign the offer and will play on a one-year, $17.9 million contract in 2019. He was always the player who was most likely to accept the offer, and it makes sense that he did. The southpaw is coming off a great season, but injuries limited him to only 82 1⁄3 innings and he hasn’t pitched at least 150 innings since 2014. The talent is very clearly there, but between the durability concerns and the compensation attached (only the Nationals would have to pay the same steep compensation as the Red Sox, but it’s still not nothing for other teams), Ryu’s market would likely have been deflated. By signing the offer, he has a chance to show he can stay healthy and when he becomes a free agent again next year he can’t be extended the qualifying offer a second time. Plus, ya know, he gets almost $18 million.