HOUSTON -- The expectations of being a former No. 1 overall pick in the Draft and the pressure of batting third in the lineup during a pennant race didn't bother Astros shortstop Carlos Correa. Being the youngest position player in the big leagues didn't faze him.
Correa handled his rookie season in the big leagues like a veteran on and off the field, and on Monday, he was named the American League Rookie of the Year in voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. He edged Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor, 124-109, garnering 17 first-place votes to Lindor's 13. Miguel Sano of the Twins was a distant third.
Correa hit .279 with 22 doubles, 22 home runs, 68 RBIs, 14 stolen bases and an .857 OPS in only 99 games. Among AL rookies, he ranked first in homers, slugging (.512) and OPS, while ranking second in RBIs and on-base percentage (.345) and third in batting average.
"It's like a season I thought would only happen in a dream," Correa said. "If you told me before the season started this was going to happen, I would not believe you. I started the year in Double-A. A few years back, in 2012, they drafted me with the first pick overall, and everybody was saying I was not supposed to be the first pick and was not the best player, but the hard work came through and I've been working hard all these years to be able to get to this level and be able to accomplish some things."
Correa is the second Astros player to win Rookie of the Year, joining Jeff Bagwell, who won it in the National League in 1991. The shortstop accepted the award from his native Puerto Rico, with his family by his side and a throng of fans cheering for him.
"It's an unbelievable feeling," Correa said. "Right now there's thousands of people out there and celebrating with me this accomplishment. People are really passionate about baseball here in Puerto Rico. For me to be able to bring this award back home and celebrate with them, it means a lot for them, but for me as well."
Lindor, who's also from Puerto Rico, said he was happy for Correa.
"He had a great season and I'm glad the award is staying in Puerto Rico," he said. "He deserved it. He had a great season and hopefully he'll have a lot more seasons to come like that."
Correa, 21, set the franchise rookie record for homers and the club record for homers by a shortstop in a single season. His 18 homers prior to his 21st birthday were the second most in Major League history, behind only Alex Rodriguez. Correa's 4.1 WAR (wins above replacement) ranked as the second-highest total in history prior to his age-21 season.
Since making his debut, Correa led the Astros in homers, RBIs, extra-base hits, go-ahead RBIs, game-winning RBIs (eight) and slugging percentage during that span, while ranking second in hits (108) and steals (14). And he did it during a pennant race
"He exceeded expectations on how he handled the spotlight and the pressure on hitting in the middle of the order at such an early part of his career and his overall impact on his teammates," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I'm so proud of how he is as a teammate and how he interacts with the guys on the team. And really, he has an uncanny singular focus on winning today's game when he shows up at the ballpark, and for a manager, that's all I can ask out of our players."
Correa hit .359 with 11 homers and a 1.097 OPS with two outs, ranking second in the AL in both batting average and OPS with two outs, trailing Lorenzo Cain and Mike Trout, respectively. He hit .395 with four homers, 19 RBIs and a 1.240 OPS in 44 plate appearances with runners in scoring position and two outs.
"I got to see firsthand the impact he had on our team and then in every aspect of the game," Hinch said. "Always a lot of deserving candidates in these awards, but I think Carlos is as deserving as anybody."