2018 Players Choice Awards Outstanding Rookie Finalists
These six rookies began their major league careers with such stellar performances that their fellow players selected them as finalists for 2018 Players Choice Awards Outstanding Rookie of the Year.
Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andújar and Shohei Ohtani make up the AL finalists for the award, and Ronald Acuña Jr., Jack Flaherty and Juan Soto are the NL finalists. They received the most votes in balloting by the players in their respective leagues.
Courtesy of the Major League Baseball Players Trust, winners and the finalists will receive a grant to donate to a charity of their choice. The Outstanding Rookie award was introduced in the 1994 awards and players such as Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones and Mike Trout have since earned the honor.
Finalists for the top Comeback Player were announced earlier this week. The finalists for the Players Choice Awards for AL and NL Outstanding Pitcher and Outstanding Player will be announced in the coming weeks, as will the finalists for the two most prestigious awards – the overall Player of the Year and Marvin Miller Man of the Year.
All winners will be announced on Nov. 27.
AMERICAN LEAGUE OUTSTANDING ROOKIE FINALISTS
MIGUEL ANDÚJAR - New York Yankees
Miguel Andújar, from San Cristóbal in the Dominican Republic, took over at third base early in the season for the Yankees and never looked back, becoming a productive force in the middle of an already-powerful lineup. The solidly built 23-year-old slashed .297/.328/.527 with 27 home runs and 92 RBIs while hitting 47 doubles to break Joe DiMaggio’s 1936 Yankees rookie record (44).
SHOHEI OHTANI - Los Angeles Angels
Shohei Ohtani, who just turned 24 in July, made his way to the United States from Japan in 2018 and joined Babe Ruth as the only players to pitch at least 50 innings and hit 15 home runs in the same MLB season. Ohtani had a 3.31 ERA with 63 strikeouts over 10 starts 51 2/3 innings before an ulnar collateral ligament ended his pitching season. As a left-handed hitter, he batted .285 with a .925 OPS, 22 home runs, 61 RBIs and 10 stolen bases in 367 plate appearances.
GLEYBER TORRES - New York Yankees
One of baseball top prospects entering 2018, 21-year-old Gleyber Torres lived up to his advance billing, slashing .271/.340/.480 to help the 100-win Yankees reach the postseason. The native of Caracas, Venezuela, was brought to the majors in the third week of April and took over at second base, where he played 109 of his 123 games, and hit 24 home runs with 77 RBIs.
NATIONAL LEAGUE OUTSTANDING ROOKIE FINALISTS
RONALD ACUÑA JR. - Atlanta Braves
Twenty-year-old left fielder Ronald Acuña Jr. didn’t join Atlanta until April 25 and missed time due to a knee injury, but he still put up a season full of star-level stats (3.7 fWAR). Possessing a rare combination of power, speed and defensive ability, the Venezuelan left fielder batted .293 with a .366 on-base percentage and hit 26 home runs, including a stretch in which he hit one in five consecutive games. He also stole 16 bases.
JACK FLAHERTY - St. Louis Cardinals
A former first-round pick (34th overall) from Southern California, 23-year-old Jack Flaherty led all rookie pitchers with 182 strikeouts (11th in the NL) and just 59 walks over 151 innings in 28 starts for the Cardinals in 2018. Offsetting a four-seam fastball with a slider and sinker, the 6-foot-4 right-hander held opposing batters to a .199 average and 1.11 WHIP as he solidified St. Louis’ rotation and helped the Cardinals remain in the NL Central race until the final weekend.
JUAN SOTO - Washington Nationals
Only 19, Juan Soto joined the Nats on May 20 to fill a gap in an injury-depleted outfield and his production kept him in the lineup the rest of the season. The left fielder from Santo Domingo posted the highest on-base percentage (.406) and OPS (.923) ever by a teenager in the majors and his 22 homers tied him with teammate Bryce Harper as the second-highest total for a teenager behind Tony Conigliaro’s 24 in 1964. Soto hit .292 and had 70 RBIs.
The winners of each of the 10 Players Choice Awards will be announced on the evening of Nov. 27.
About the Major League Baseball Players Trust
Through the Players Trust, Major Leaguers contribute their time, money and celebrity to call attention to important causes. Each year the Players Trust distributes more than $1.5 million in annual grants and programs. For additional information, please visit www.PlayersTrust.org, @MLBPlayersTrust.