Most people aren’t aware of this fact but it is true. The Sporting News began giving out awards to Major League Baseball rookies who had exceptional seasons a year before MLB officially began handing out its own Rookie of the Year Award.
The awards handed out by the Sporting News are voted upon by the rookies’ fellow players in their respective leagues. At the beginning of season it would have been fairly easy to guess which two rookies it would have come down to in the American League.
By July, however, when New York Yankees’ rookie ace Masahiro Tanaka went down with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, it was pretty clear that as long as he kept up hitting the ball out of the yard at such a rapid rate that the Chicago White Sox Cuban phenom, first baseman Jose Abreu, would be the one to take home the Rookie of the Year honors regardless of which organization was handing them ou
Of course Major League Baseball, whose awards are voted on by the members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA), have yet to given out but the players of the American League have spoken and the Sporting News’ A.L. Rookie of the Year Award for 2014 has indeed gone to Abreu.
In a landslide win Abreu recieved 149 votes. The runner up Los Angeles Angels’ starting pitcher Matt Shoemakerrecieved four votes. There was a tie for third between Tanaka and another Yankees’ pitcher reliever Dellin Betanceswho each got three votes a piece and another member of the White Sox, the multi-faceted infielder Marcus Semien got a single vote.
Abreu put up some incredible power numbers hitting 36 home runs and driving in 107 runs over the course of the season. Of course, no one really expected that on top of those numbers he would also hit .317 on the season with a .383 on-base percentage.
In essence he did not strike out as much as many power hitters are known to do. He hit the ball often whether it stayed in the yard or not and was able to draw walks when he needed to. Hitters who are that well-rounded do not come along very often.
As he learned to be more patient at the plate he became even more dangerous to his opponents being able to get on base, move the runners over or put the ball into play at any given time. He even spent a stint on the disabled list with an injured ankle and when he returned his numbers didn’t decline but got even stronger.
The vote may have been closer had Tanaka not ended up being out of the game from July until mid-September as he already had 12 wins before being forced onto the disabled list but even still, in my opinion, I think Abreu would have run away with the award anyway. The numbers don’t lie and his were out of this world.