MLB's Nos. 1 and 2 prospects win ROY for only second time

November 14th, 2023

Orioles infielder and D-backs outfielder ended the 2023 season the same way they started: as the top rookies.

After entering the year as the top two prospects in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline, each player took home Rookie of the Year honors in his respective league on Monday.

Carroll was the sport's best rookie wire-to-wire, coming out of the gates hot and finishing with 6.0 WAR. Henderson overcame a slow start to slash .276/.322/.534 from June on and net 4.6 WAR on the season. As such, it's no surprise that they rank as the 2023 rookies with the most long-term value.

But how rare is it for baseball's two top prospects to finish the season with Rookie of the Year Awards?

As it turns out, quite rare. MLB Pipeline's rankings go back to 2003, and No. 1 and 2 came back with hardware just one time before: Shohei Ohtani and Ronald Acuña Jr. in 2018.

Of course, some years it's not possible for the top prospects to both win Rookie of the Year. In half of the past 20 seasons, both players hailed from the same league. Sometimes the top prospects didn't even appear in the Majors -- including 2005 when Delmon Young and Ian Stewart both spent the entire year in the Minors.

But in plenty of seasons, another prospect exceeds expectations and just performs better than the top names, which speaks to Carroll and Henderson's ability to live up to their tremendous hype.

To further the point, there have only been two other instances of both Rookie of the Year Awards going to top-five prospects. Kris Bryant (No. 2) and Carlos Correa (No. 3) ranked just behind Byron Buxton in 2015, while Bryce Harper (No. 2) and Mike Trout (No. 3) trailed top-ranked Matt Moore in 2012. Using Baseball America's rankings, which go back to 1990, Ben Grieve (No. 1) and Kerry Wood (No. 4) took home honors in 1998.

Past Rookie of the Year winners and their preseason overall rankings (UR indicates the player was not ranked overall):
AL: Gunnar Henderson (1)
NL: Corbin Carroll (2)
AL: Julio Rodríguez (3)
NL: Michael Harris II (65)
AL: Randy Arozarena (34)
NL: Jonathan India (UR)
AL: Kyle Lewis (9)
NL: Devin Williams (UR)
AL: Yordan Alvarez (44)
NL: Pete Alonso (51)
AL: Shohei Ohtani (1)
NL: Ronald Acuña Jr. (2)
AL: Aaron Judge (45)
NL: Cody Bellinger (13)
AL: Michael Fulmer (53)
NL: Corey Seager (1)
AL: Carlos Correa (3)
NL: Kris Bryant (2)
AL: José Abreu (UR)
NL: Jacob deGrom (UR)
AL: Wil Myers (4)
NL: José Fernández (7)
AL: Mike Trout (3)
NL: Bryce Harper (2)
AL: Jeremy Hellickson (2)
NL: Craig Kimbrel (UR)
AL: Neftali Feliz (7)
NL: Buster Posey (4)
AL: Andrew Bailey (UR)
NL: Chris Coughlan (UR)
AL: Evan Longoria (2)
NL: Geovany Soto (UR)
AL: Dustin Pedroia (UR)
NL: Ryan Braun (17)
AL: Justin Verlander (5)
NL: Hanley Ramirez (25)
AL: Huston Street (UR)
NL: Ryan Howard (30)
AL: Bobby Crosby (23)
NL: Jason Bay (40)