Judge, Bellinger unan­i­mous picks as Rook­ies of the Year

Lodi News-Sentinel - - Sports - By Noah Trister

The only ma­jor ques­tion was whether it would be unan­i­mous — and it was.

Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger are baseball’s Rook­ies of the Year, af­ter their record-set­ting home run binges left no need for any dis­sent­ing opin­ions. Judge led the Amer­i­can League with 52 homers, the most ever by a rookie. Bellinger hit 39 and had to set­tle for the Na­tional League’s rookie record.

Judge and Bellinger re­ceived ev­ery first-place vote avail­able from the Baseball Writ­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica. Judge be­came the first New York Yan­kees player to re­ceive this award since Derek Jeter in 1996. Bellinger gave the Dodgers a record 18th Rookie of the Year win­ner.

“Watch­ing him from the West Coast, what he did on the East Coast, was awe­some,” Bellinger said. “I was a big fan of his, and met him dur­ing the All-Star game, and he’s a hum­ble dude. I think we’re both re­flect­ing, now that the sea­son’s over, on the kind of sea­sons that we’ve had.”

This was the first time both Rookie of the Year awards were unan­i­mous since 1997, when No­mar Gar­ci­a­parra of Bos­ton and Scott Rolen of Philadel­phia won.

This sea­son’s votes were an­nounced Mon­day night. Bos­ton out­fielder Andrew Ben­in­tendi fin­ished sec­ond in the AL, fol­lowed by Bal­ti­more slug­ger Trey Mancini. St. Louis in­fielder Paul DeJong was the NL run­ner-up, with Pitts­burgh first base­man Josh Bell fin­ish­ing third. Judge is also an MVP fi­nal­ist. “Ob­vi­ously it was an amaz­ing, re­mark­able year that no one would have pre­dicted,” Yan­kees gen­eral man­ager Brian Cash­man said. “When you drop 52 — I think he re­ally should have had 53, one that in­stant re­play didn’t pro­tect . ... It should be a higher num­ber. It was just an in­cred­i­ble year.”

Ichiro Suzuki in 2001 and Fred Lynn in 1975 are the only play­ers to win the AL MVP and Rookie of the Year awards in the same year.

The Yan­kees en­tered this sea­son with mar­ginal ex­pec­ta­tions by their stan­dards, but the prodi­gious power of Judge and catcher Gary Sanchez trans­formed them al­most overnight into an ex­cit­ing young team with tremen­dous po­ten­tial. They made the postseason as a wild card.

“It’s ex­cit­ing times right now to be wear­ing pin­stripes,” Judge said. “To come up through the mi­nor leagues with a lot of these guys, watch them de­velop, and now to see what they’re do­ing at the ma­jor league level is re­ally im­pres­sive.”

Judge’s 495-foot shot on June 11 was the long­est home run in the ma­jor leagues this sea­son, ac­cord­ing to Stat­cast . Al­though he struck out 208 times in the reg­u­lar sea­son and 27 more in the

postseason, the 25-year-old out­fielder is one of a hand­ful of rea­sons why the Yan­kees sud­denly seem to have one of the bright­est fu­tures of any team in baseball.

New York came within a vic­tory of the World Se­ries this year, los­ing to Hous­ton in Game 7 of the AL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries. Bellinger’s team made it to that fi­nal step, but Los An­ge­les fell to the Astros in a seven-game World Se­ries.

Bellinger is the sec­ond straight Dodgers player to win Rookie of the Year. Short­stop Corey Sea­ger did it last year.

“The fu­ture is bright in L.A.,” Bellinger said. “I know that I’m ex­cited, as well as the other team­mates. Ob­vi­ously, we didn’t have the end goal this year, but we’re go­ing to try and take it to the next level next year.”

Bellinger made his big league de­but in late April. By the time he turned 22 on July 13, he had 25 home runs. The 6-foot-4 first base­man is an ap­pro­pri­ate coun­ter­part to the pow­er­ful Judge. They even hit from op­po­site sides of the plate: Judge is a righty and Bellinger swings left-handed.


The Yan­kees' Aaron Judge hits a dou­ble against the Astros in Game 5 of the Amer­i­can League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries at Yan­kee Sta­dium in New York on Oct. 18.

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