The only major question was whether it would be unanimous — and it was.
Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger are baseball’s Rookies of the Year, after their record-setting home run binges left no need for any dissenting opinions. Judge led the American League with 52 homers, the most ever by a rookie. Bellinger hit 39 and had to settle for the National League’s rookie record.
Judge and Bellinger received every first-place vote available from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Judge became the first New York Yankees player to receive this award since Derek Jeter in 1996. Bellinger gave the Dodgers a record 18th Rookie of the Year winner.
"Watching him from the West Coast, what he did on the East Coast, was awesome," Bellinger said. "I was a big fan of his, and met him during the All-Star game, and he’s a humble dude. I think we’re both reflecting, now that the season’s over, on the kind of seasons that we’ve had."
This was the first time both Rookie of the Year awards were unanimous since 1997, when Nomar Garciaparra of Boston and Scott Rolen of Philadelphia won.
This season’s votes were announced Monday night. Boston outfielder Andrew Benintendi finished second in the AL, followed by Baltimore slugger Trey Mancini. St. Louis infielder Paul DeJong was the NL runner-up, with Pittsburgh first baseman Josh Bell finishing third.
Judge is also an MVP finalist.
"Obviously it was an amazing, remarkable year that no one would have predicted," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "When you drop 52 — I think he really should have had 53, one that instant replay didn’t protect. … It should be a higher number. It was just an incredible year."
Ichiro Suzuki in 2001 and Fred Lynn in 1975 are the only players to win the AL MVP and Rookie of the Year awards in the same year.
The Yankees entered this season with marginal expectations by their standards, but the prodigious power of Judge and catcher Gary Sanchez transformed them almost overnight into an exciting young team with tremendous potential. They made the post-season as a wild card.
"It’s exciting times right now to be wearing pinstripes," Judge said. "To come up through the minor leagues with a lot of these guys, watch them develop, and now to see what they’re doing at the major league level is really impressive."
Judge’s 495-foot shot on June 11 was the longest home run in the major leagues this season, according to Statcast . Although he struck out 208 times in the regular season and 27 more in the post-season, the 25-year-old outfielder is one of a handful of reasons why the Yankees suddenly seem to have one of the brightest futures of any team in baseball.
New York came within a victory of the World Series this year, losing to Houston in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series. Bellinger’s team made it to that final step, but Los Angeles fell to the Astros in a seven-game World Series.
Bellinger is the second straight Dodgers player to win Rookie of the Year. Shortstop Corey Seager did it last year.
"The future is bright in L.A.," Bellinger said. "I know that I’m excited, as well as the other teammates. Obviously, we didn’t have the end goal this year, but we’re going to try and take it to the next level next year."
Bellinger made his big league debut in late April. By the time he turned 22 on July 13, he had 25 home runs. The 6-foot-4 first baseman is an appropriate counterpart to the powerful Judge. They even hit from opposite sides of the plate: Judge is a righty and Bellinger swings left-handed.
"He’s not just a guy that went up there and hit home runs," Judge said. "He was a guy that played high-calibre first base for them. He could go out there and roam centre field, left field, right field, wherever they needed him. To have that type of versatility and produce the numbers he did is something that you don’t find too often." ORLANDO, Fla. — For sale: 28-year-old chiseled slugger who led the major leagues with 59 home runs, the most in 16 years.
Price: $295 million over a decade.
Complication: He only goes where he wants to, since he has a full no-trade provision.
Now under a new ownership group that put former New York Yankees star Derek Jeter in charge of baseball and business operations, the Miami Marlins have concluded their payroll-paring regime is willing to explore trades of Stanton and other highly priced stars.
"I think over the next few days I’ll get a feel for what the marketplace is for our players," Marlins president of baseball operations Mike Hill said Monday, the opening day of the annual general managers’ meetings.
Miami had a $116 million payroll on Aug. 31, up from $81 million at the end of last year. Bruce Sherman’s group bought the team on Oct. 2 from Jeffrey Loria and is exploring trades for players who contributed to the team’s eighth straight losing season. The Marlins have not made the playoffs since winning the 2003 World Series, the second-longest post-season drought behind Seattle.
Stanton’s salary jumps from $14.5 million this year to $25 million next season. It peaks at $32 million annually from 2023-25.
When he spoke Oct 25 at the World Series while receiving an award, Stanton said "I don’t have stamped-out ideas" whether he would want to stay in Miami during a rebuild. The Marlins seem to know which teams he would accept a trade to.
"I do have a sense, and we’ll keep that internal, and at the appropriate time we’ll discuss whatever we need to discuss," Hill said. "We work internally. We do what we need to do, and then if we need to present him with something, we’ll do so at the appropriate time."
Among other costly Marlins next year are third baseman Martin Prado ($14 million), right-hander Edinson Volquez ($13 million), centre fielder Christian Yelich ($7 million, with $37.5 million more guaranteed over the following three years) and second baseman Dee Gordon ($10.5 million, with $27.5 million guaranteed over the following two seasons).
Given a penurious approach, the Marlins may find trades make sense.
"It’s tough to be competitive if you’re overly concentrated in two or three players," New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. "I think we experienced some of that last year."
High-revenue teams would be the most likely matches. The New York Yankees do not appear to be a probable destination, Right fielder Aaron Judge won the AL Rookie of the Year award unanimously after hitting 52 homers, centre fielder Aaron Hicks played well when he wasn’t hurt, and Clint Frazier is competing for playing time among a group that includes veterans Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury.
"We have a lot of good players signed, so we’re not in a situation where we have to be pressured into moving fast on anything," general manager Brian Cashman said. "It gives us a little bit of a chance to be patient and engage the market and see if there’s any value to be had via trade or free agencies for us because we have a lot pieces currently in place and more pieces coming."
New York does figure to be interested in 23-year-old Japanese right-hander and outfielder Shohei Otani, a two-way player who wants to sign with a major league team. But the Major League Baseball Players Association does not seem close to an agreement on a new posting deal with MLB management and Nippon Professional Baseball. That could push off Otani negotiations for weeks or months.
Teams are having trade discussions and agents also are the hotel, pitching their clients to teams.
Cashman is not meeting with manager candidates during the GM session. Yankees bench coach Rob Thomson and former Cleveland and Seattle manager Eric Wedge were interviewed last week, and Cashman would not deny reports that San Francisco bench coach Hensley Meulens will be interviewed.
Former Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran, who announced his retirement Monday after 20 big league seasons, could be a contender.
"He’s played the game a long time. He knows the game inside-out. He’s obviously got respect of his peers and bilingual," Cashman said. "He brings a lot to the table in terms of someone that’s played the game the right way and had a great career and goes out with a world championship ring and is highly respected I would say across all environments of our industry."