Major League Baseball awards season has started. On Monday, New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge was named the American League Rookie of the Year, becoming the first Yankees player since Derek Jeter in 1996 to win the award.
Judge was the unanimous winner in the voting. The win by the 6-foot-7 slugger was highly predicted after he belted 52 home runs to lead the AL and helped his teammates to reach the 2017 postseason. Judge is a finalist as well for AL MVP.
Judge called winning the award a dream come true and an amazing feeling. He told an interviewer that just being mentioned with two other candidates is an honor as they had tremendous seasons as well.
Fred Lynn in 1975 and Ichiro Suzuki in 2001 are the only other players to win both Rookie of the Year and AL MVP award during the same season.
Andrew Benintendi an outfielder with the Red Sox was second in voting for rookie of the year behind Judge, while Trey Mancini a slugger for the Orioles was third.
The home runs hit by Judge broke the record for rookies of 49 held by Mark McGwire and set in 1987 with the Oakland A’s. Judge was first in runs in the AL with 128 and in walks with 127.
New York entered the season without high expectations by their own standards, but the power of Judge and second year catcher Gary Sanchez turned them into a strong, young club with great potential.
Judge added that it was exciting now to wear pinstripes and to move through the minors with several of the players, watching them develop with him and now seeing their accomplishments on the field at the major league level is impressive.
The one knock or the 208 knocks against the Yankees slugger was strikeouts. Yes, he struck out 208 times and only five times has a MLB player fanned more during one season.
However, following a slump during part of July and all of August following the All-Star break, Judge rebounded in September leading the league in home runs that month with 15, in RBIs with 32, in runs with 29, on base percentage at .463 and in slugging at .889.
The National League announced its winner for Rookie of the Year on Monday as well and that was won unanimously by Dodgers’ rookie Cody Bellinger.