Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani has been voted American League Rookie of the Month for April, and San Diego Padres third baseman Christian Villanueva has been voted National League Rookie of the Month for the first month of the 2018 season.In 16 games as designated hitter for
Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani has been voted American League Rookie of the Month for April, and San Diego Padres third baseman Christian Villanueva has been voted National League Rookie of the Month for the first month of the 2018 season.
In 16 games as designated hitter for the Angels, Ohtani batted .341 (15-for-44) with six runs scored, one double, a triple, four home runs and 12 RBI. Across four starts on the mound, the rookie two-way sensation went 2-1 with 26 strikeouts, nine walks and a 4.43 ERA over 20.1 innings pitched. With a minimum of 20 at-bats, Shohei finished his historic month among AL rookies first in slugging percentage (.682); second in home runs; tied for second in RBI; fourth in on-base percentage (.383) and runs scored; and tied for fourth in extra-base hits (6). On the mound, the Japanese native paced the Junior Circuit in strikeouts and matched Carson Fulmer of the Chicago White Sox for the second-most wins.
In his first career start at Angel Stadium on April 8th against the Oakland Athletics, Ohtani turned in one of the best pitching performances of the season thus far, taking a perfect game into the seventh inning. Registering 12 punchouts in the 6-1 victory, the 23-year-old generated 24 swings and misses. In addition, the right-handed pitcher became just the third hurler in AL history to record at least 12 strikeouts in one of the first two starts of his career, joining Hall of Famer Juan Marichal (1960) and Steve Woodard (1997). Ohtani also became the second pitcher in Club history to record 12 strikeouts, one walk and yield just one hit in a single outing, joining Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan (1972). Moreover, from April 3rd-6th, the left-handed-swinging slugger homered in three consecutive contests. Ohtani is just the third player in MLB history to log a pair of wins as a pitcher and record three round-trippers in his team's first 10 games of a season, and the first since Jim Shaw in 1919. Moreover, Shohei became the third player in history to homer in three straight games and post more than 10 strikeouts in a single outing during the same season, a feat he accomplished in just one week. Hall of Famer Babe Ruth (1916) and Ken Brett (1973) previously accomplished the feat. The hard-throwing 23-year-old established a new Angels record with 26 punchouts through his first four career games as a pitcher, eclipsing the previous mark of 24 punchouts set by Bo Belinsky (1962) and Tim Fortugno (1992).
Others receiving votes for AL Rookie of the Month included third baseman Miguel Andújar (.289, 10 R, 12 2B, 12 RBI) and first baseman Tyler Austin (.290, 12 R, 11 XBH, 15 RBI) of the New York Yankees; second baseman Joey Wendle (.329, 13 R, 8 XBH, 9 RBI) of the Tampa Bay Rays; and pitcher Hector Velázquez (4-0, 2.05 ERA, 22.0 IP, 15 SO) of the Boston Red Sox.
Villanueva posted a slash line of .321/.411/.692 with 15 runs scored, 25 hits, five doubles, eight home runs, 19 RBI and eight walks over 23 games to earn monthly honors. Christian is the first Padre to win NL Rookie of the Month since Ryan Schimpf took home rookie honors in July 2016. Among his qualified NL rookie counterparts, Villanueva finished his strong month first in runs scored, home runs, RBI, extra-base hits (13), batting average and slugging percentage; second in on-base percentage; tied for second in hits; and tied for third in walks.
On April 3rd against the Colorado Rockies at Petco Park, Villanueva batted 3-for-3 with four runs scored, three home runs and five RBI. The right-handed slugger became the second Padres rookie ever to club three homers in a single game, joining his teammate Hunter Renfroe, who accomplished the feat on September 20, 2017 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Villanueva became just the third player in MLB history to post a three-homer game within his first 14 career contests, joining Bobby Estalella and Jarrett Parker. Following a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 16th in which he went 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI, San Diego's rookie third baseman homered for the third time in as many games. Christian became the fifth hitter in Club history to accomplish the feat, and the first since Alex Dickerson, who homered in four consecutive games from July 24-27, 2016. In a home tilt against the New York Mets on April 28th, Villanueva batted 1-3 with a pair of runs scored, one home run and two RBI to lead the Padres to a 12-2 victory. The productive outing extended the rookie's hitting streak to 11 games, dating back to April 13th. The 26-year-old's streak of 11 contests was the longest by a Padres rookie since Jesus Guzman, who recorded a streak of 12 games from July 30 - August 11, 2011. Over the course of his hot stretch at the plate, the Guadalajara, Mexico native slashed .472/.578/.972 with 11 runs scored, 17 hits, three doubles, five homers and 12 RBI.
Others receiving votes for NL Rookie of the Month included Christian's teammates, outfielder Franchy Cordero (11 R, 6 HR, 13 RBI, .552 SLG) and starting pitcher Joey Lucchesi (3-1, 2.78 ERA, 32.1 IP, 35 SO), as well as third baseman Brian Anderson (.265, 13 R, 8 XBH, 16 RBI) of the Miami Marlins.
In recognition of their Rookie of the Month Awards, Shohei Ohtani and Christian Villanueva will each receive a specially designed trophy, suitably engraved, for their accomplishments.