Last year, there weren’t many good options for AL Rookie of The Year. Wil Myers had a decent rookie year, and was really the only player who stood out at all. This year is a completely different story. Two rookies have not only put themselves in prime position to win the award, but have been two of the best players in baseball two this point. Jose Abreu and Masahiro Tanaka have taken the league by storm and had two of the best rookie years in recent memory.
Masahiro Tanaka’s success comes to no surprise. He was the big target of this year’s free agent market, coming in from Japan on an amazing winning streak, he hadn’t lost a game in Japan in almost a year in a half. Some expected him to have a little bit of an adjustment period, but with how dirty his pitches were in Japan, most agreed he was going to make it in the MLB. Not only has he proved he deserves to be in the MLB, but he has put himself in a position to come away with the CY Young award. Only Fernando Venezuela has ever won both the CY Young and ROY awards in one year, he accomplished that feat in 1981. Tanaka currently boasts a 2.11 ERA, 119 K’s, and a 11-2 record.
Tanaka’s competition for ROY is 1B Jose Abreu, another foreign prospect, this time from Cuba. Abreu was not as well known coming over, and his signing with the White Sox did not make as much noise as Tanaka’s with the Yankees. Still those who did know about Abreu knew the type of power he had. Few expected him to burst onto the scenes as he has so far though, already hitting 22 homeruns in late June despite a 15 day DL-stint. He is on track to become only the second rookie to hit 40 homeruns, Mark McGwire hit 49 in his rookie year with the A’s. Abreu also has 60 RBI’s and a .274 avg. While his AVG may keep him from winning MVP in his rookie year, he definitely has a chance at winning ROY.
It will be tough to judge who deserves the award if both players keep up their current level of play. Abreu has a legit chance at winning the HR Title, and probably would be winning it now if he never went on the DL. Tanaka has already established himself as the best pitcher on the Yankees, and as said, he may come away with the CY Young as well. It’s not often that you see rookies come in and have success this early, Mike Trout being the only case otherwise in recent memory. Usually the ROY was good for a rookie, but these two are already elite players. Then again, these are not your typical rookies. Abreu and Tanaka are 27 and 25, and have already competed at high levels. They both played in the World Baseball Classic, and both showed their ability. Abreu hit 3 HR’s in 6 games, while Tanaka has an ERA under 2.5. The Show was never going to be too big for them.
As of now, Abreu probably is the favorite to win. Hitter play every day, and often get preference in awards like this. If his performance falls even a little though Tanaka will swoop, right in and take the award for himself. They will make teams for confident in the future when signing foreign prospects to big deals.