The Rookie of the Year award was first handed out in 1947 to Jackie Robinson, after he broke baseball’s color barrier and went on to have a great first season of what would become a Hall of Fame career. Given out to a single player again in 1948, the award was expanded in 1949 to include a player from each league, and has been that way ever since.
Voting for the award is fairly straightforward.
Two writers from each city of both the American League and National League make up the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) voters for the Rookie of the Year award, making a total of thirty voters for each league (fifteen teams, with two voters per city). A first place vote earns a player five points, a second place vote gets three points, with a third place vote receiving one point. Once added up, the player with the highest overall total wins.
The 2016 Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year award winners for both the American League and National League were announced Monday night on MLB Network. Here are the winners, along with my thoughts on each:
AMERICAN LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Original Pick: Gary Sanchez
Finalists: Tyler Naquin, Gary Sanchez and Michael Fulmer
Winner: Michael Fulmer
Thoughts On Michael Fulmer Winning
There may have been three finalists for the American League Rookie of the Year, but in the end there were truly only two frontrunners for the award, being Michael Fulmer and Gary Sanchez. Despite Tyler Naquin having blasted 14 homers in his first season, he didn’t compare statistically to the two aforementioned rookies.
But despite narrowing the running down to two star players, that’s where the easy decisions ended. No one seemed to agree upon whether the R.O.Y. should go to Sanchez or Fulmer, but there truly was no bad choice. They each were very deserving.
However, it was Fulmer who ended up winning the award. Earning 26 of the 30 first-place votes, Fulmer tallied 142 points, and was the only player named to every single ballot cast. Sanchez placed second with his 91 points (earning the other 4 first place votes), leaving Naquin in third with 20 points.
Although Fulmer began to tail off a bit towards the end of the season, his 3.06 season long ERA over the course of 159 innings pitched proved to be more impressive to the BBWAA than Sanchez’s 20 HR in just 53 games. That larger sample size was likely what helped push Fulmer over the edge, joining him with the likes of Justin Verlander — the last Tigers’ pitcher to win the Rookie of the Year.
Only time will tell if Michael Fulmer will turn out to have the same level of success as his Tigers teammate.
NATIONAL LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Original Pick: Corey Seager
Finalists: Kenta Maeda, Trea Turner and Corey Seager
Winner: Corey Seager
Thoughts On Corey Seager Winning
Unlike the American League side, the National League portion wasn’t all that difficult of an award to predict the winner of. The heavy favorite to win the Rookie of the Year before the season even began, Seager took home the honor in unanimous fashion, following in the footsteps of Kris Bryant, who did so in 2015.
Seager becomes just the 21st player in history to receive all thirty first-place votes to win the R.O.Y. award, earning him a total of 150 points. The runner up for the award was Trea Turner, who racked up 42 points, followed by Kenta Maeda, who received 37.
Despite Turner hitting .342 on the season, and Kenta Maeda posting a good 3.48 ERA in his rookie campaign, no one could come close to stopping Seager from making his name as the 17th Rookie of the Year winner all-time for the Dodgers, who now have a R.O.Y. winner at every position except third base.
Seager’s 26 home runs and 72 RBI’s this season, in which he played in all but five games, made him the easy choice for Rookie of the Year. His 193 hits also mark the most for a rookie since 2001, adding yet another standout statistic to his rookie campaign.
But while his rookie season was unbelievable, many see Corey Seager only improving.