Judge, Bellinger unan­i­mous picks as Rook­ies of the Year

The Garden Island - - Morning Briefing - 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 for 2017 af­ter their record-set­ting home run binges elim­i­nated any rea­son­able com­pe­ti­tion for the hon­ors. 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.

Bos­ton out­fielder Andrew Ben­in­tendi fin­ished sec­ond in the AL vote, 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 a fi­nal­ist for the MVP award. 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 sea­son.

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. 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-yearold 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.

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.

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

Bellinger Judge

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