This coming Monday evening on the MLB Network, baseball’s official National League Rookie of the Year Award winner will be announced.
It says here that if the voters get it right, not only will they give the honor to Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager, but they will give him that award with a unanimous vote.
There was a time when this award seemed to be owned by the Dodgers organization. Between 1992-96, five straight Dodgers players captured the award.
Dodgers ROY History
In that stretch, Eric Karros (’92), Mike Piazza (’93), Raul Mondesi (’94), Hideo Nomo(’95) and Todd Hollandsworth (’96) received the NL honors.
Just over a decade earlier, four straight Dodgers rookies took home the hardware. Rick Sutcliffe (’79), Steve Howe (’80), Fernando Valenzuela (’81) and Steve Sax (’82) each won the award in succession.
Going back through history, seven more Dodgers have won the NL Rookie of the Year Award. Ted Sizemore (’69), Jim Lefebvre (’65), Frank Howard (’60), Jim Gilliam (’53), Joe Black (’52) and Don Newcombe (’49) finished atop the voting.
The first-ever winner of the NL Rookie of the Year Award was, in fact, a Dodgers player. Jackie Robinson took home those honors for his work in the 1947 season when he broke the MLB color barrier.
Seager Actually Broke in End of 2015
Seager actually received substantial playing time in the 2015 season. He received a September promotion, and quickly replaced Jimmy Rollins as the Dodgers’ starter at the shortstop position.
In 2015, Seager received 113 plate appearances and 98 at-bats. A player retains official rookie eligibility until reaching 130 at-bats. He received another 16 ABs during the 2015 NLDS.
This year’s stats are what he will be judged on by the voters, and he was nothing short of spectacular. Seager hit for a .308/.365/.512 slash line with 26 homers, 72 RBI, 71 extra-base hits, and 105 runs scored. He was also named to the first of what should prove to be numerous NL All-Star Game appearances.
Other 2016 NL ROY Candidates
One of the three finalists for the award is Seager’s teammate, Japanese import pitcher Kenta Maeda. The other is Washington Nationals infielder/outfielder Trea Turner.
Maeda is a worthy nominee after going 16-11 with a 3.48 ERA in tossing 175.2 innings over 32 starts. The 28-year-old was in his first MLB campaign after eight seasons in the Japanese Central League.
Turner was promoted for a couple of games in early June, then brought back for good just before the All-Star break by the Nats. He hit for a .342/.370/.567 slash line with 13 homers, 40 RBI, 53 runs, and 33 steals over 324 plate appearance while splitting time between center field and second base.
My IBWAA Ballot
On my IBWAA ballot, my selections for the NL Rookie of the Year were Seager as the winner with Maeda getting my third place vote. I chose St. Louis Cardinals reliever Seung-hwan Oh for my second place vote.
Oh is a 34-year-old from South Korea who split the last 11 years playing professionally in Korea and Japan. In his first big league season with the Cards he appeared in 76 games, registering 19 saves. He had a 1.92 ERA and 0.916 WHIP, with a 103/18 K:BB ratio while allowing just 55 hits in 79.2 innings.
In any other season, the other two official nominees and my runner-up Oh might each be the favorite for the NL Rookie of the Year Award. Certainly an argument could be made by someone who might want to toss them a first place vote on their ballot.
However, it says here that Seager was clearly the best first-year player from start to finish. In fact, he was one of the best all-around players in the game this season. He deserves a first place vote from everyone, and should be the unanimous NL Rookie of the Year.