Bryant, Correa win BBWAA Rookie of Year Awards
Cubs 3B is unanimous pick; Astros shortstop 2nd in club history to earn honor
Neither Kris Bryant nor Carlos Correa began his Major League career on Opening Day, but by the end of the 2015 season, neither could ever be forgotten.
And now, after both first-year sensations helped lead their young and exciting teams to postseason showings that many believed were far ahead of schedule, they've made history.
Bryant, the Chicago Cubs third baseman with seemingly limitless power, cruised to a unanimous victory as the winner of the National League Rookie of the Year Award, while Correa, the ultra-athletic, do-everything shortstop for the Houston Astros, was revealed as the American League Rookie of the Year Award winner, according to the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballots that were revealed on MLB Network on Monday night.
Both honors were representative of the recent trend of Major League greatness arriving at an early age, but neither was anything close to a surprise.
Bryant became the first unanimous Rookie of the Year Award winner since White Sox slugger Jose Abreu last year and only the sixth unanimous NL winner overall. The Cubs sensation is the first unanimous NL winner since then-Braves closer Craig Kimbrel in 2011 and the first Cubs player to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award unanimously. Bryant is the sixth Cubs player to win the honor and the first since Geovany Soto in 2008.
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR VOTING
|Kris Bryant, CHC||30||150|
|Matt Duffy, SF||22||4||70|
|Jung Ho Kang, PIT||4||16||28|
|Noah Syndergaard, NYM||3||7||16|
|Justin Bour, MIA||1||1||4|
|Joc Pederson, LAD||1||1|
|Stephen Piscotty, STL||1||1|
Giants third baseman Matt Duffy finished second in the voting, with 22 second-place votes, and Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang was third. Mets starter Noah Syndergaard was fourth and Marlins first baseman Justin Bour was fifth.
"It's awesome," Bryant said. "Obviously, Matt and Jung Ho had really good seasons and a lot of the other guys, too, a lot of the other rookies that I played with and against. So many people were deserving of this award, and it truly is an honor for me to win it.
"It's been just an incredible year for me."
It was also incredible for the Cubs, who won the NL Wild Card Game, beat the Cardinals in the NL Division Series and lost to the Mets in the NL Championship Series. Buoyed by Bryant, plus youngsters Addison Russell, Jorge Soler, Kyle Schwarber and Javier Baez, the Cubs figure to be around the top of the standings for a while.
"We just feed off each other," Bryant said. "Everybody struggled through the season, and we kind of leaned on each other as the young guys. We kind of brought ourselves together and learned from one another, and it really made the learning curve a lot easier for us."
Bryant was picked second overall in the 2013 MLB Draft and didn't reach the Major Leagues this year until April 17. He added the NL Rookie of the Year Award to his Players Choice Award as the NL's Outstanding Rookie.
It's far-fetched to think the Cubs could have gotten that far without Bryant, too. Chicago took off in the standings after Bryant's promotion, and the 23-year-old was a big reason why. Bryant hit 26 home runs and led all rookies in RBIs (99), doubles (31) and runs (87) while posting a .275/.369/.488 slash line.
"Things turned out great," Bryant said. "We won, we went really far in the playoffs, I think we surprised a lot of teams, and I think moving on from this season … the future is so bright for this team."
That team and MLB reacted quickly and decisively on Twitter in honoring one of the many youthful, charismatic and supremely talented pieces of what Chicago hopes will be a championship contender for years to come.
Correa was the victor in a much closer race that came down to a battle of Puerto Rican phenoms. Correa beat out second-place finisher Francisco Lindor, the shortstop for the Cleveland Indians, and Minnesota Twins slugger Miguel Sano, who finished third. Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna was fourth and Oakland A's outfielder Billy Burns finished fifth.
Correa received 17 first-place votes to Lindor's 13 to lock up the award, which was only the second in Astros franchise history. Jeff Bagwell won the first one when the Astros were in the NL in 1991.
Per his custom, Correa preferred to praise his family, which surrounded him in Puerto Rico as he received word of the honor, and his teammates. He started by mentioning his father, Carlos Sr., who stood to his left as he spoke with MLB Network.
"He means a lot to my baseball career," Correa said. "He's the one that paved the way for me. He taught me how to work hard every single day. … He's the guy that I look up to, and he's the guy that made me who I am today, not only as a player but as a human being as well."
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR VOTING
|Carlos Correa, HOU||17||13||124|
|Francisco Lindor, CLE||13||14||2||109|
|Miguel Sano, MIN||20||20|
|Roberto Osuna, TOR||2||2||8|
|Billy Burns, OAK||1||3||6|
|Eddie Rosario, MIN||2||2|
|Delino DeShields, TEX||1||1|
Correa did something truly remarkable after his June 8 callup, recording a .279/.345/.512 slash line, hitting 22 homers, driving in 68 runs, stealing 14 bases, scoring 52 runs and playing stellar defense -- all in 99 games and mostly at the age of 20 (until he turned 21 on Sept. 22). That made him the youngest position player in the big leagues.
And then Correa helped his team into the AL Division Series, where the Astros took the eventual World Series champion Royals to five games.
"The last couple months, obviously you're hitting third for a team that was competing for first place," Correa said. "There's a lot of things going on, a lot of emotion in the clubhouse when you're trying to win every game. But I tried to just go out and have fun every single time.
"I had a great team around me, guys like [Jose] Altuve and [George] Springer that taught me how to go about my business in the right way every single day. It was fun just to play with them and play around them with the fun team that is the Houston Astros."
It didn't take long for Correa's team and Major League Baseball to honor the former No. 1 overall Draft pick on social media.
And it didn't take long for Correa to recognize his countryman, Lindor, who also had a stellar season and gave him a serious run for the rookie honor.
"He's a great player as well," Correa said. "He could have beaten any of us to win this award, so I feel really honored to be able to win it.
"He plays the game with passion, and he's a fellow Puerto Rican player. He's bringing a lot of pride to the island here in Puerto Rico and he'll be a great player for the years to come. I'm really proud of what he's done this year."
Lindor also had high praise for Correa.
"I'm happy for him," Lindor said. "He had great season and I'm glad the award stayed in Puerto Rico. He deserved it, he had a great season, and hopefully he has a lot more seasons to come like that."