Mike Trout is unanimous AL Rookie of the Year winner

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There’s plenty of room for debate when it comes to this year’s BBWAA awards, but there was one certainly; despite an historically awesome crop of competitors, Mike Trout would win American League Rookie of the Year honors in a landslide.

The official announcement came Monday, with Trout claiming the top spot on all 28 ballots. Yoenis Cespedes finished second, followed by Yu Darvish in third.

Left out of the mix were pitchers Jarrod Parker (13-8, 3.47  ERA), Wei-Yin Chen (12-11, 4.02 ERA), Tommy Milone (13-10, 3.74 ERA), Ryan Cook 2.09 ERA, 14 Sv), Matt Moore (11-11, 3.81 ERA) and Scott Diamond (12-9, 3.54 ERA), all of whom would have strong threats to finish in the top three most years.

Trout hit .326/.399/.564 with 30 homers and 83 RBI last season despite spending most of the first month in the minors. He finished second in the AL to Miguel Cabrera in both average and OPS. He led the league with 129 runs scored and 49 steals.

It would have been a much more intriguing vote had MLB not restored Trout’s rookie eligibility after it was originally ruled to have expired. Trout spent 38 non-September days on the Angels’ active roster in 2011, which is under the 45-day limit for rookies, but he was credited with an extra 17 days of service time because of a quick recall from the minors following a demotion. MLB correctly decided that the extra service time, while officially part of his record, shouldn’t count against his rookie status.

Next up for Trout is a likely second-place finish to Cabrera in the AL MVP balloting. That announcement got a whole lot more interesting today with the news that the BBWAA will be releasing the individual ballots for each award.

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Update: The BBWAA has released the ballots.

Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel lead 19 newcomers on the 2018 Hall of Fame ballot

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Hall of Fame ballots for the 2018 induction class have been mailed out to the Baseball Writers Association of America voters and the names on the ballot were released to the public this morning. Among the top newcomers: Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel, Andruw Jones, Kerry Wood and Jamie Moyer . There are 19 new candidates in all. There are, of course, several holdovers too.

The newcomers, in alphabetical order:

Chris Carpenter
Johnny Damon
Livan Hernandez
Orlando Hudson
Aubrey Huff
Andruw Jones
Chipper Jones
Jason Isringhausen
Carlos Lee
Brad Lidge
Hideki Matsui
Kevin Millwood
Jamie Moyer
Scott Rolen
Johan Santana
Jim Thome
Omar Vizquel
Kerry Wood
Carlos Zambrano

Chipper Jones, the 1999 MVP, one of the best switch-hitters of all time and the unparalleled offensive star of the great Braves teams of the 1990s and early 2000s seems like a shoe-in. His case is boosted above his fantastic offensive numbers in the eyes of many voters by virtue of playing for the same team for his entire career.

Jim Thome is probably going to get a very large vote total and possibly will be inducted, having hit over 600 homers in his career. A challenge to his first-year induction is presented by the very large backlog of deserving candidates, which we’ll discuss in a moment, and by the fact that Thome’s career corresponded with baseball’s home run boom of the 1990s. Unlike other passed-over candidates of his era, Thome was never implicated in performance enhancing drug use, but it is the case that homers became cheaper for everyone during his career, and some may consider him a one-dimensional candidate. I suspect he’ll be in Cooperstown soon, be it this year or next year.

Omar Vizquel will receive a lot of support but his candidacy will also draw a lot of controversy. His backers will cite his defense and his longevity. His detractors will note that his defense was nowhere near as good as other defense-first inductees in the past such as Ozzie Smith, and that it was in no way good enough to make up for his below average bat. Complicating all of this will be fact that two superior defensive candidates who happened to have outstanding offensive numbers to go with them — Andruw Jones and Scott Rolen — are unlikely to receive anything approaching the level of support Vizquel will get, leading to . . . a lot of arguing.

And now the holdovers from last year’s ballot and ballots past, with last year’s percentage of the vote in parenthesis. Candidates need 75% of the vote in order to be inducted:

Barry Bonds (53.8)
Roger Clemens (54.1)
Vladimir Guerrero (71.1)
Trevor Hoffman (74.0)
Jeff Kent (16.7)
Edgar Martinez (58.6)
Fred McGriff (21.7)
Mike Mussina (51.8)
Manny Ramirez (23.8)
Curt Schilling (45.0)
Gary Sheffield (13.3)
Sammy Sosa (8.6)
Billy Wagner (10.2)
Larry Walker (21.9)

We’ve talked about all of these guys before, of course. Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero seem likely to be elected given how close they came to induction last year. Many quite worthy candidates such as Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling will likely continue to receive less support than they deserve. PED-associated candidates Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens each received a boost in their previously-flagging candidacies last year, getting over 50% of the vote for the first time, but it’s unlikely that they’ll jump 22 and 21 points, respectively. Lesser PED-associated candidates such as Sammy Sosa and Manny Ramirez will likely forever remain on the outside looking in.

The results of the election will be announced by Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson at 6 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, live on MLB Network.