As the race for the American League and National League Rookie of the Year Awards reaches the final stretch, the favorite for each honor -- Yankees third baseman Miguel Andjuar and Braves left fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. -- made a strong case for their candidacy with stellar showings in August.
As the race for the American League and National League Rookie of the Year Awards reaches the final stretch, the favorite for each honor -- Yankees third baseman Miguel Andjuar and Braves left fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. -- made a strong case for their candidacy with stellar showings in August. For their efforts, Andujar and Acuna were named the AL and NL Rookies of the Month, respectively, on Tuesday.
Acuna made history last month during a record homer streak in which he became the youngest player (20 years, 239 days old) since at least 1908 to homer in five straight games, including three straight from the leadoff spot -- a feat that had been matched by only the Orioles' Brady Anderson in 1996. In August, Acuna hit an impressive .336/.405/.698 -- all bests among the first-place Braves last month -- and his 11 homers tied Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich for the MLB high.
• Past winners:AL | NL
Acuna, MLB Pipeline's former No. 1 overall prospect, has been as advertised since breaking into the Majors in April, displaying the raw tools with a seemingly seamless transition from the Minors.
As the Braves have emerged from their multiyear rebuild and find themselves in the thick of the NL pennant race -- Atlanta entered Tuesday with a four-game lead over the Phillies for first place in the NL East -- Acuna has been a critical cog at the top of Atlanta's lineup. Since moving to the leadoff spot full time on July 20 (including one game as a defensive substitution), Acuna is hitting .335/.407/.701 with 16 homers over 189 plate appearances.
Andujar has been just as important for the Yankees as they look to reach the postseason for the second straight season. In August, the 23-year-old tied the Rangers' Rougned Odor for the MLB high with 29 RBIs, while hitting .320/.344/.623 to go with 10 homers, tops among Yankees.
Andujar has been arguably the Yankees' most consistent bat this season, hitting .299/.333/.527 with 23 homers and 76 RBIs over 127 games. And perhaps just as paramount is that he's helped carry the club since it lost Aaron Judge to a right wrist fracture on July 26, hitting .310/.344/.593 with 11 homers and 35 RBIs in the 37 games since.
Andujar and teammate Gleyber Torres have long been considered among the handful of favorites for the AL Rookie of the Year Award -- Andujar was also named AL Rookie of the Month in June, and Torres took home the hardware for May -- though Torres' torrid pace from early in the season was slowed as he battled a right hip injury.
Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.