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Top 25 Baseball Stories of 2017 — No. 3: Rookie Sensations Judge and Bellinger splash onto the scene

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We’re a few short days away from 2018 so it’s a good time to look back at the top 25 baseball stories of 2017. Some of them took place on the field, some of them off the field and some of them were more akin to tabloid drama. No matter where the story broke, however, these were the stories baseball fans were talking about most this past year.

Every year we get two Rookies of the Year. Rare is it that we get two Rookies of the Year like Aaron Judge of the Yankees and Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers.

Bellinger, who was not called up until late April and who did not have a set position until a couple of weeks after making his debut, went on to lead the NL Champion Dodgers in home runs with 39, RBI with 97 and slugging percentage at a hefty .581. He trailed only Giancarlo Stanton in homers in the senior circuit, setting a new rookie record for homers in the NL as well. The previous mark — 38 — was held by Frank Robinson (1956) and Wally Berger (1930). He finished in the top ten in the NL in slugging (6th), adjusted OPS (9th), extra base hits (8th), intentional walks (6th), and at bats per homer (2nd). He was the NL Player of the Week twice. He didn’t turn 22 until the dang All-Star break.

Judge’s rookie resume was even more impressive. It not only earned him the Rookie of the Year Award, but placed him second in MVP honors as well.

Judge led the American League with 52 homers, breaking Mark McGwire’s record of 49 rookie homers, set in 1987. He also led the American league in walks and runs. He was second in bWAR, second in on-base percentage, second in slugging, third in total bases, second in RBI, first in OPS, second in adjusted OPS, fourth in extra base hits, second in intentional walks, first in at bats per homer, and fourth in putouts for a right fielder. He was likewise in the top 3-5 in a host of other, more esoteric sabermetric categories. He won the Silver Slugger Award. He was the June and September AL Player of the Month. He led the league in strikeouts too, but given how no one cares about strikeouts anymore we’ll let that slide.

Bellinger and Judge — who, I assume, Major League Baseball is quite happy play for the leagues two most storied franchises in the two largest markets in the game —  each won their Rookie of the Year Awards unanimously. It was the first time both winners won the award unanimously since 1997, when Scott Rolen and Nomar Garciaparra did so. That’s some pretty good company to keep.

Ronald Acuna tops Keith Law’s top-100 prospect list

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ESPN’s Keith Law has released his annual top-100 prospects list. According to Law, Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna is the number one prospect in baseball.

After blazing through High-A and Double-A ball last season, Acuna was the youngest player in Triple-A in 2017. He was 19 years-old all season long and put up a fantastic line of .335/.384/.534 in 486 plate appearances at Double and Triple-A. He then went on to star in the Arizona Fall League, leading that circuit in homers. Law, who is not one to throw hyperbolic comps around, says, “if Acuna stays in center and maxes out his power, he’s going to be among the best players in baseball, with a Mike Trout-ish profile.”

Acuna, who is 20 now, is likely play the bulk of the season in Atlanta, even if he’s kept down at Triple-A for the first couple of weeks of the season to manipulate his service time, er, I mean to allow him to develop his skills more fully. Or something. Given the presence of reigning Gold Glove center fielder Ender Inciarte, Acuna is not likely to man center for the Braves this year, but Law says he’d be a plus right field defender, which could make the Braves outfield Death to Flying Things in 2018. At least when Nick Markakis is not playing.

Number two on the list: Blue Jays third base prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. As law notes, the name may be familiar but he’s not very much like his old man. Mostly because young Vlad can take a walk. Which is better, even if it’s nowhere near as fun as swinging at balls that bounce in the dirt first.

For the other 98, you’ll have to click through.