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Jose Abreu wins American League Rookie of the Year

White Sox first baseman becomes ninth unanimous selection in award's history

Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Once Jose Abreu made it clear that a second (or third, or fourth) trip around the league wasn't going to slow him down, it was readily apparent that he was going to win Rookie of the Year going away.

The only question was whether he would win it unanimously, and the Baseball Writers Association of America answered that affirmatively.

Abreu became the ninth unanimous winner in the award's history, earning the first-place vote on all 30 ballots (150 points). Matt Shoemaker of the Los Angeles Angels finished second (40 points), and Yankees reliever Dellin Betances finished third (27 points).

The White Sox first baseman definitely earned it with his performance, as he hit .317/.383/.581 with 36 homers and 107 RBIs for one of the best offensive rookie seasons in baseball history. However, voters have a history of discriminating against foreign professionals -- more so with Japanese ballplayers -- with a faction of the electorate arguing that kind of experience makes them more than a "rookie," even though they meet MLB's rulebook criteria.

Abreu and the voters had no such problems this year. Abreu also had no competition. It might have been a spirited race had Masahiro Tanaka kept up his strong pace. They each exceeded their own outsized expectations through the first half:

  • Abreu: .292/.342/.630, 29 HR, 73 RBI
  • Tanaka: 12-4, 2.51 ERA, 129.1 IP, 19 BB, 135 K

But elbow pain limited Tanaka to just two outings over the rest of the season, while Abreu put his hit tool in the spotlight. He only hit seven homers over the second half, but he compensated by hitting .350/.435/.513 after the break.

As a result, he set a White Sox rookie record with homers (36), and his OPS+ of 169 is the second-highest ever for a rookie in baseball history (Shoeless Joe Jackson posted a 193 OPS+ in 1911).

Abreu also became the sixth White Sox to win the award, joining Luis Aparicio (1956), Gary Peters (1963), Tommie Agee (1966), Ron Kittle (1983) and Ozzie Guillen (1985).

The BBWAA named Jacob deGrom the National League's Rookie of the Year, and that race was only slightly closer. The Mets starter earned 26 of 30 first-place votes, with Reds speedster Billy Hamilton picking up the other four.