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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.

Royals acquire Brian Goodwin from Nationals

Brian Goodwin
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The Royals have acquired outfielder Brian Goodwin from the Nationals, the teams announced Sunday. The Nationals received minor league right-handed reliever Jacob Condra-Bogan in the deal.

Goodwin, 27, was working through his third campaign with the Nationals in 2018. He saw limited playing time in the outfield (mostly due to the trifecta of talent the club already had in Bryce Harper, Adam Eaton, and Juan Soto), and finished the first half of the season with a .200/.321/.354 batting line, three home runs, three stolen bases and a .674 OPS in just 79 plate appearances. The Royals, who appear thin on compelling center field options at the moment, are expected to utilize him on a more frequent basis once he’s added to the active roster.

The 23-year-old Condra-Bogan has yet to break into the majors with any team so far. He got his start in pro ball in 2017 with the independent Washington WildThings of the Frontier League and issued three runs, three walks and 15 strikeouts over 15 1/3 innings before signing on with the Royals as a free agent. This season, he pitched to an impressive 2.08 ERA, 0.7 BB/9 and 13.5 SO/9 through 26 innings in Single-A Lexington before getting transferred to High-A Wilmington for a single appearance. The Nationals have not announced where he’ll be assigned for the remainder of 2018.