If teammates finishing first and second in Rookie of the Year Award voting sounds like a rarity, that’s because it is. In 2022, the Braves’ Michael Harris II and Spencer Strider became the eighth pair to accomplish the feat.
It makes sense, given that we’ve come to expect that teammates who excel in the same year may “split the vote,” preventing either from winning an award. But sometimes, two teammates produce enough that even that doesn’t stand in the way.
While there have been eight instances of teammates finishing first and second for Rookie of the Year, some additional context is helpful. Prior to 1980, writers’ ballots consisted of listing just one choice for the award in their league (or MLB-wide, for the first two years) – since then, writers have ranked a top three. This is worth noting because it has lengthened the list of names receiving votes, added variation and significantly changed the way results look for second place and beyond. Four of the instances were since ‘80, and four prior.
Here’s a look at the eight instances of teammates finishing first and second in Rookie of the Year Award voting in the same year. The winner is listed first in each pair.
2022 NL: Michael Harris II & Spencer Strider, Braves
This Braves duo is one of two on this list to have been on a team that made the playoffs the year prior, with the 2011 Braves pair of Craig Kimbrel and Freddie Freeman. That’s notable, since we tend to expect rookies on up-and-coming teams, not ones that are in the midst of sustained success. To that end, the ‘22 Braves are the only reigning World Series champion to have players finish top two in Rookie of the Year voting.
In fact, Harris is only the eighth player to win the award while on the reigning champ. Before him, the last was Steve Sax on the 1982 Dodgers, so it’s been awhile. The others: Pat Zachry (1976 Reds), Tom Tresh (1962 Yankees), Frank Howard (1960 Dodgers), Tony Kubek (1957 Yankees), Bob Grim (1954 Yankees) and Gil McDougald (1951 Yankees).
2011 NL: Craig Kimbrel & Freddie Freeman, Braves
Kimbrel won unanimously, sweeping all 32 first-place votes. He led the NL with 46 saves, sporting a 2.10 ERA and 1.04 WHIP across 79 outings. Kimbrel was an All-Star and received votes for Cy Young and MVP as well. Freeman hit 21 homers, tied for the most among NL rookies, while hitting .282 with a .795 OPS. Third place belonged to the Phillies’ Vance Worley, who had a 3.01 ERA in 25 games, 21 of them starts.
1989 NL: Jerome Walton & Dwight Smith, Cubs
Walton received 22 of the 24 first-place votes, with Smith getting the other two. Walton snagged 24 bases in 116 games, hitting .293. He received MVP consideration as well. His teammate Smith played in seven fewer games, hitting .324 with a .382 on-base percentage while slugging .493. The Mets’ Gregg Jefferies finished third, playing in 141 games and notching 131 hits.
1984 AL: Alvin Davis & Mark Langston, Mariners
Davis received 25 of 28 first-place votes, and his teammate Langston got the other three. Davis hit .284 with a .391 on-base percentage and slugged .497 in 152 games, hitting 27 homers and driving in 116 runs. He was an All-Star and received MVP votes, too. Langston threw 225 innings, leading the AL with 204 strikeouts. Next after the teammates was Kirby Puckett, who hit .296 in 128 games for the Twins.
1975 AL: Fred Lynn & Jim Rice, Red Sox
In the earlier voting format, Lynn and Rice were the only players to receive votes – with the former getting 23 1/2 and the latter that other half. Lynn is one of just two players to win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season, along with 2001 Ichiro Suzuki. He led the American League in runs scored with 103 and led the Majors in slugging at .566, while hitting .331 with 21 home runs and 105 RBIs. Rice hit .309 and slugged .491 with 22 homers and 102 RBIs.
1963 AL: Gary Peters & Pete Ward, White Sox
Peters received 10 of the 20 available votes, with his teammate Ward getting six. Peters led the AL with a 2.33 ERA in 243 innings, winning 19 games. He received MVP votes, too. After arriving in an offseason trade from the Orioles that sent Luis Aparicio to Baltimore, Ward hit .295 with 22 homers in 157 games, getting MVP consideration as well. The lone non-White Sox vote recipient in third was the Twins’ Jimmie Hall.
1960 AL: Ron Hansen & Chuck Estrada/Jim Gentile tied, Orioles
Hansen received 22 of 24 votes, with his teammates Estrada and Gentile tying for second with one vote apiece. Hansen hit 22 homers and drove in 86 runs, finishing fifth for MVP as well. Estrada led the AL with 18 wins and Gentile hit .292 with a .403 OBP and slugged .500. All three were All-Stars, marking the only time a team has had three rookies at the Midsummer Classic -- actually Classics then with two games -- in the same year.
Hansen would later be traded from Baltimore to Chicago in the aforementioned 1963 deal that sent Ward on the same route.
1957 NL: Jack Sanford & Ed Bouchee, Phillies
Sanford received 16 of 24 votes, with his teammate Bouchee getting four to finish second. Sanford led the Majors in strikeouts with 188 and received MVP consideration as well as being named an All-Star. Bouchee, also an All-Star, hit .293 in 154 games. Cubs pitcher Dick Drott finished third with three votes, and the Braves’ Bob Hazle was fourth with one.