Mets’ Alonso, Astros’ Ál­varez named Rook­ies of the Year

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS - By Jake Seiner AP Sports Writer

NEW YORK (AP) >> Young slug­gers known for their prodi­gious power, Pete Alonso and Yor­dan Ál­varez knocked the Rookie of the Year vot­ing out of the park.

In a rar­ity for the ma­jor league home run leader, Alonso didn’t land the big­gest blow.

Alonso, a star first base­man with the New York Mets, got 29 of 30 first-place votes for NL Rookie of the Year. Braves right-han­der Mike Soroka got the other first­place vote and fin­ished second in bal­lot­ing by the Base­ball Writers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica re­vealed Mon­day night.

“To just win the award, doesn’t mat­ter if it’s unan­i­mous or not,” Alonso said. “It’s still such a bless­ing.”

Ál­varez, a hulk­ing des­ig­nated hit­ter from the Hous­ton Astros, earned all 30 first-place votes to be­come the 24th unan­i­mous se­lec­tion since the award was in­tro­duced in 1949.

“I was re­ally not ex­pect­ing it,” Ál­varez said through a trans­la­tor.

The 24-year-old Alonso led the ma­jors with 53 homers, one bet­ter than Yan­kees slug­ger Aaron Judge’s rookie record from 2017. “Po­lar Bear” Pete be­came the face of base­ball in Flush­ing, beloved

for his power, per­son­al­ity and phi­lan­thropy. He’s the sixth Met to win the award and first since team­mate Ja­cob deGrom in 2014.

Padres short­stop Fer­nando Tatis Jr. was third in NL bal­lot­ing. The only voter to place Soroka ahead of Alonso was An­drew Bag­garly of The Ath­letic. Alonso was the only NL player named on ev­ery bal­lot.

Ál­varez, a 22-year-old from Cuba, played 87 games after de­but­ing in June, fewest by any po­si­tion player to win AL Rookie of the Year. He hit 27 homers, bat­ted .313, drove in 78 and had a 1.067 OPS for the pen­nantwin­ning Astros. He strug­gled at times in the post­sea­son, but that was after vot­ing had con­cluded.

“My whole fam­ily was telling me I would be the win­ner of the award,” Ál­varez said. “And once I was se­lected as the win­ner, I was very ex­cited.”

He’s the third Hous­ton player to win, fol­low­ing team­mate Car­los Cor­rea in 2015 and Hall of Famer Jeff Bag­well in 1991.

Ál­varez eas­ily beat out the other AL fi­nal­ists, with Ori­oles left-han­der John Means second and Rays in­fielder Bran­don Lowe third.

The Mets ag­i­tated their fans by stash­ing Alonso at Triple-A through the end of the 2018 sea­son, cit­ing his in­ad­e­quate de­fense at first base. He went to spring train­ing this year bat­tling with buddy Do­minic Smith for the start­ing job, and Alonso wasn’t even cer­tain to crack the open­ing­day ros­ter un­til be­ing de­clared New York’s pri­mary first base­man a day be­fore the reg­u­lar sea­son.

Alonso said he was chal­lenged by first-year gen­eral man­ager Brodie Van Wa­ge­nen to “show up in shape and earn your spot.”

“I felt like I an­swered the bell,” Alonso said.

The for­mer Florida Ga­tor be­came an in­stant star in the Mets’ blue and or­ange. Wield­ing his hefty 34-inch, 32-ounce birch bat, Alonso hit .292 with nine homers, 26 RBIs and a 1.024 OPS over March and April, claim­ing the first of three NL Rookie of the Month hon­ors. He put on a power-packed show while win­ning the All-Star Home Run Derby, and then ce­mented his fan-fa­vorite sta­tus by do­nat­ing $100,000 of his $1 mil­lion derby prize to char­i­ties sup­port­ing injured sol­diers and 9/11 work­ers.

“Pete kept the same at­ti­tude that he came in spring train­ing with through the en­tire sea­son,” Van Wa­ge­nen said. “He was a good team­mate. He was a true pro­fes­sional. And ob­vi­ously, he was a light­ning in a bot­tle for all Mets fans.”

Alonso wore a hat read­ing “100%” on the broad­cast while be­ing named the NL win­ner, but his vote to­tal didn’t match. The up­beat slug­ger was all smiles as usual — just like when team­mates ripped off his jersey fol­low­ing a gameend­ing walk in Septem­ber.

“I’m not tak­ing my shirt off for this one,” Alonso joked.

With a left-handed swing rem­i­nis­cent of lon­g­legged Hall of Famer Wil­lie McCovey — another unan­i­mous Rookie of the Year pick — Ál­varez im­me­di­ately en­trenched him­self in the mid­dle of Hous­ton’s bat­ting or­der. He hit seven homers in his first 12 games, and his OPS ranked fifth in the ma­jors after he de­buted June 9.

ADAM HUNGER - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

FILE - In this Sept. 28, 2019, file photo, New York Mets’ Pete Alonso re­acts after hit­ting a home run dur­ing the third in­ning of a base­ball game against the Atlanta Braves, in New York.

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