Awards week continues as the Managers of the Year will be named tonight.
With last night’s win of the AL ROY by Shohei Ohtani, it once again begs the question of when a Japanese player comes to the U.S. and MLB, what is and what isn’t a rookie?
Ohtani won because of his two-way play, not only hitting .285-22-61, 10 SB, OPS+ 152 in 104 games, but also going 4-2, 3.31, ERA+ 126 in 10 starts before his elbow blew out. That was enough to beat out the Yankees’ Miguel Andujar, who hit .297-27-92, OPS+ 126, but who had defensive liabilities.
The vote wasn’t as close as maybe it should have been. 25 first place votes to 5. (The Yankees’ Gleyber Torres finished third, but received no first place votes).
Because of his two-way status, I really feel that as long as Ohtani didn’t fall flat on his face, and he didn’t, that the novelty of being the first true two-way player since Babe Ruth almost 100 years ago would win him the award, and it did.
Ohtani had spent five years in the “Japanese major leagues” though. Other Japanese players have won the Rookie of the Year Award after coming over to the U.S., notably Ichiro Suzuki, who won both the AL ROY and AL MVP in 2001.
But what about 2003, when Hideki Matsui was denied the award in part because people felt he wasn’t a “rookie”, because he had spent 10 years in the “Japanese majors”?
The inconsistency of the BBWAA is still astonishing.
Of course, in a couple of months, some members will prove their ignorance in how they voted in the HOF voting.