Shohei Ohtani of the Angels and Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Braves were named Baseball Digest's American League and National League Rookie of the Year Award winners on Wednesday, as named by a seven-vote panel.Ohtani and Yankees third baseman Miguel Andujar had been considered the front-runners for the AL Rookie
Shohei Ohtani of the Angels and Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Braves were named Baseball Digest's American League and National League Rookie of the Year Award winners on Wednesday, as named by a seven-vote panel.
Ohtani and Yankees third baseman Miguel Andujar had been considered the front-runners for the AL Rookie of the Year Award, and in Baseball Digest's tally, the Angels' two-way phenom edged Andujar by a significant margin, collecting six of the seven first-place votes. Ohtani, 24, is the sixth Angels rookie to receive the honor, joining Mark Clear, Brian Harvey, Tim Salmon, Garret Anderson and Michael Trout.
Unsurprisingly, the 20-year-old Acuna received all seven of the first-place votes in the NL following his record-breaking season in which he hit eight leadoff homers to set the Braves' single-season mark. He hit .293/.366/.552 with 26 homers, 26 doubles and 16 steals, and he became the fifth Atlanta rookie to win the award, joining Craig McMurtry, David Justice, Rafael Furcal and Craig Kimbrel.
Ohtani joined Babe Ruth as the only players to hit 15 homers and pitch 50 innings in a season, hitting .285/.361/.564 with 22 homers and 10 steals in 82 games as designated hitter while going 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA in 10 starts in an injury-shortened season on the mound. Though he didn't pitch enough innings to qualify for the ERA title, Ohtani's 11.0 K/9 was second among AL rookie starters, while his 152 OPS+ was sixth among all AL hitters with at least 350 plate appearances.
Ohtani successfully underwent Tommy John surgery on Oct. 1 to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, which will likely limit him to hitting for the 2019 season.
Though Acuna and Washington's Juan Soto were the presumed favorites in the NL for most of the season, Acuna separated himself from the pack with a memorable August in which he became the youngest hitter since at least 1908 to homer in five straight games, at 20 years, 239 days old. During that stretch, three of his six homers came as his team's first hitter of the game.
Andujar finished second in AL voting, with Tampa Bay's Joey Wendle and Yankees teammate Gleyber Torres tied for third. Rays infielder Willy Adames also received a third-place vote. Soto received six second-place votes to finish as the runner-up in the NL, with Dodgers starter Walker Buehler and Miami third baseman/outfielder Brian Anderson rounding out the voting.
Do-Hyoung Park is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark.