Revisit the big 'firsts' for 2018 Rookies of the Year Shohei Ohtani and Ronald Acuna Jr.
The future of the game is bright indeed -- and in 2018, few first-year players shined as brightly as Shohei Ohtani of the Angels and Braves phenom Ronald Acuna Jr.
On Monday, the pair of young stars were named the American League and National League Jackie Robinson Rookies of the Year, with Ohtani becoming the fourth Japanese-born player to win the award:
Shohei Ohtani is just the fourth Japanese-born player to earn Rookie of the Year honors. pic.twitter.com/mGD3pDISAj- MLB Stat of the Day (@MLBStatoftheDay) November 13, 2018
While Acuna mashed his way as a prolific offensive force in Atlanta's lineup:
With both players established as can't-miss impact guys now, it's time to look back to when they hadn't done anything in the big leagues yet ... back to a time when they were each in search of some big "firsts." Moments like ...
Ohtani's first hit
The 24-year-old didn't wait very long to get his first hit out of the way, cracking a single to right field on March 29 against the A's in Oakland:
Acuna's first hit
Acuna made his Major League debut on April 29, and in his fourth at-bat of the night he ticked that milestone off his to-do list:
Ohtani's first home run
Demonstrating a flair for the dramatic, Ohtani stepped up in his first at-bat at Angel Stadium on April 3 against the Indians, and ... you know the rest:
Acuna's first home run
Like Ohtani, Acuna seems to enjoy getting these things out of the way in a hurry. In his second MLB game (the day after the game of his first base hit), he crushed a no-doubter deep into the left-field seats at Great American Ball Park for his first dinger:
Ohtani's first strikeout
The A's didn't have much of a chance against Ohtani when he took the mound in Oakland for his first start as a pitcher with the Angels. He was simply brilliant in the 'video-game pitches' sort of way throughout the afternoon, and it was apparent right off the bat (sorry) against shortstop Marcus Semien, strikeout victim No. 1 of Ohtani's career:
Acuna's first stolen base
Since Acuna isn't a pitcher, he doesn't have a cool "first strikeout" clip to pull out for his list of accomplishments, but he did nab his first stolen base on April 29 in Cincinnati:
Ohtani's first "oh wow" moment
Again with that flair for the dramatic, Ohtani hit homers in each of his first three games at Angel Stadium -- and he did it with three precise, perfect swings of the bat. This was a definite "that guy's the real deal" moment, for sure.
Acuna's first postseason hit
Led in part by Acuna's presence in the lineup as part of a strong core supplanted by Ozzie Albies, the Braves won the National League East -- a surprise to some, sure. But what wasn't much of a surprise, given his precipitous rise all season, was Acuna's mammoth grand slam (his first postseason hit) off the Dodgers' Walker Buehler in Game 3 of the Division Series:
With all those "firsts" out of the way, we can't wait to see what these two are able to do for a sequel in 2019.