Shohei Ohtani and Ronald Acuña Jr. Are Rookies of the Year

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Shohei Ohtani and Ronald Acuña Jr. Are Rookies of the Year

Tue Nov 13, 2018 2:33 pm

Shohei Ohtani and Ronald Acuña Jr. Are Rookies of the Year

American League :
On the day he learned he would need reconstructive elbow surgery, temporarily halting his dynamic pitching career, the Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani turned to his other extraordinary talent. That night in early September, against the Texas Rangers, Ohtani went 4 for 4 with two home runs.

That kind of response to grim injury news would have been unfathomable for almost everyone else who has pitched for a living. But Ohtani proved this season that he could be a two-way star, with skills that translated seamlessly from Japan to to Major League Baseball, even if his injury limited him to 10 starts on the mound.

Ohtani won the American League Rookie of the Year Award on Monday, a reward for becoming the first player since Babe Ruth in 1919 to hit 20 home runs while also pitching at least 50 innings.

Ohtani, 24, hit .285 with 22 homers, 61 R.B.I. and 10 steals. On the mound, he was 4-2 with a 3.31 E.R.A. and 11 strikeouts per nine innings. After having Tommy John surgery on Oct. 1, he said that his recovery was going well — “maybe even ahead of schedule,” he said — although there are no plans for him to pitch in 2019.
National League :
Outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr., whose power and speed helped the Atlanta Braves to a surprise playoff berth, took the National League award.

Acuña, who is from Venezuela, became the sixth Braves player to win the award and the first since reliever Craig Kimbrel in 2011. The Braves traded Kimbrel before the 2015 season, part of a roster teardown that led to three consecutive seasons of at least 90 losses as the team gathered prospects for the future.

Acuña, who turns 21 next month, has emerged as the best of the bunch. When the Braves clinched their first N.L. East title on Sept. 22, it was fitting that the final out landed in his glove in left field.

“At 20, I was still in college,” catcher Kurt Suzuki said late in the regular season. “It’s pretty incredible what he’s doing now. The passion, the energy, the talent are all undeniable.”

Acuña arrived in Atlanta for his first home game with a .382 average and two home runs. His average had dipped to .248 by May 25, but he batted .309 thereafter, overcoming a knee injury and adapting quickly to major league pitching.

“What has impressed me the most about Ronald is his ability to learn,” outfielder Ender Inciarte said. “He’s shown he can mature and learn with the league, and he’s made the needed adjustments quickly.”

Acuña hit .293 for the season, and while his 26 home runs and 16 stolen bases led all N.L. rookies, the runner-up, Soto, had a slightly better on-base plus slugging percentage (.923 to .917).
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