In what was always billed to be a tight race, Washington Nationals rookie Juan Sot ended up convincingly behind Ronald Acuña Jr. as NL Rookie of the Year.
On Monday evening, MLB announced it’s American League and National League Rookies of the Year. Unfortunately, for Washington Nationals fans, Juan Soto missed out on the award to fellow rookie sensation Ronald Acuña Jr. of the Atlanta Braves.
Surprisingly, Acuña actually won in a landslide with 27 first-place votes to Soto’s two. LA Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler, who could’ve easily won the award in another year, came a fairly distant third with just one first-place vote.
Unfortunately, there was no reaction from either Soto or Acuña due to the time difference with the two playing with the MLB All-Stars in Japan. But given their newfound friendship, there’s sure to be a fun announcement tomorrow.
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Nobody can begrudge Acuña as even though he missed a chunk of time through injury, he still hit an impressive .293 with 26 home runs, 64 RBI, 16 stolen bases, and a .917 OPS. One of the deciding factors may have been the Braves’ outfielder’s defense, in which he displayed great range and a good arm in left field, where he primarily plied his trade.
Juan Soto finished the year with a slash line of .292/.406/.517 to go with 22 home runs, 70 RBI and an impressive 79 walks to just 99 strikeouts. Being such an advanced hitter for a player of his age is unheard of, and almost certainly would’ve been a unanimous RoY winner in most other years.
In the end, the voters may well have picked the right winner in the vote, but it really is stunning how the young Brave won by such a wide margin. Soto had a slight edge in hitting, and Acuña had the edge in the fielding and baserunning, which meant a tight race seemed in store. Perhaps people in baseball didn’t mention the fact Juan Soto was 19 enough, or not enough voters watched him play to see how truly special his plate discipline is already. We’ll never know what it was that made it such a landslide.
Meanwhile, in the AL, Shohei Ohtani took home the award over the New York Yankees duo of Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar. This just goes to show that the rookie class across all of baseball was exceptional this year, and felt like one of the best classes in recent memory.
Despite the award result, Juan Soto has set himself up for a fantastic Washington Nationals career after a great rookie year. And who knows, perhaps Soto and Acuña will be competing for MVP awards in the not too distant future.