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Shohei Ohtani, Ronald Acuña, Jr. named 2018 Rookies of the Year

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Angels P/DH Shohei Ohtani and Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. were named the Rookies of the Year in their respective leagues by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Ohtani, 24, had a tremendous debut in Major League Baseball after spending five seasons playing in Japan. He both pitched and hit quite well, batting .285/.361/.564 with 22 home runs, 61 RBI, 59 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 367 plate appearances. On the mound, he went 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA and a 63/22 K/BB ratio in 51 2/3 innings. Ohtani’s season was marked by adversity as he was diagnosed with a sprained UCL. Ohtani did not undergo Tommy John surgery immediately. Instead, he simply stopped pitching and worked mostly full-time as a DH. He finally underwent Tommy John surgery after the season and will likely not pitch again until 2020.

Ohtani is the first Angel since Mike Trout in 2012 to win the Rookie of the Year Award, and the third player in franchise history along with Tim Salmon in 1993.

Ohtani received 25 of 30 first-place votes. Yankees third baseman and second baseman Miguel Andújar and Gleyber Torres finished in second and third place, respectively. Andújar got the other five first-place votes. Also receiving votes were Joey Wendle of the Rays (three second-place, eight third-place), Daniel Palka of the White Sox (one third-place), and Ryan Yarbrough of the Rays (one third-place).

Acuña, 20, entered the season as baseball’s No. 2 overall prospect behind Shohei Ohtani. His debut was delayed slightly as the Braves played games with his service time in order to gain another year of team control over him. But following his April 25 debut, he was in the big leagues to stay, batting .293/.366/.552 with 26 home runs, 64 RBI, 78 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 487 plate appearances. Acuña was also an above-average defender according to the various defensive metrics.

Acuña is the first member of the Braves to win the Rookie of the Year Award since Craig Kimbrel in 2011. He’s the eighth Brave in club history to win the award, joining Alvin Dark (1948), Sam Jethroe (1950), Earl WIlliams (1971), Bob Horner (1978), David Justice (1990), and Rafael Furcal (2000) along with Kimbrel.

Acuña received 27 of 30 first-place votes. Second-place finisher Juan Soto of the Naitonals got two first-place votes and Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler, who finished in third place, got one. Those receiving third-place votes included Brian Anderson of the Marlins (4), Jack Flaherty (2) and Harrison Bader of the Cardinals (1), Yoshihisa Hirano of the Diamondbacks (1), and Jeff McNeil of the Mets (1).

The Cubs played under protest after Joe Maddon disputed an ‘illegal’ pitching motion

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The Cubs found themselves in a disadvantageous position toward the end of their 5-2 loss to the Nationals on Saturday. Down by three in the ninth, they were finally looking to gain some ground against closer Sean Doolittle after wearying themselves against Stephen Strasburg for the first eight innings of the game. Instead, the game ended under protest when Cubs skipper Joe Maddon took umbrage with Doolittle’s delivery:

The issue appeared to stem from the motion Doolittle made with his left foot, a kind of “toe-tapping” gesture that Maddon believed had previously been made illegal. The official rules state that a pitcher may not take a second step toward home plate during his delivery, a stipulation that had previously been violated by Cubs’ pitcher Carl Edwards Jr.:

Comparing the two motions, however, one would be hard-pressed to characterize Doolittle’s tapping motion as a full step toward the plate. Maddon clearly didn’t see it that way, and emerged from the dugout to dispute the pitcher’s delivery twice. Following Doolittle’s first-pitch strike to Albert Almora, the manager informed home-plate umpire Sam Holbrook that the Cubs would play the remainder of the game under protest.

An official decision has not yet been announced regarding the illegality of the delivery and the validity of the Cubs’ protest. According to league rules, “the game will not be replayed unless it is also determined that the violation adversely affected the protesting team’s chances of winning.”

During the inning in question, however, the umpiring crew allowed Doolittle to continue his delivery. He helped secure the Nationals’ 5-2 win after inducing a groundout from Almora, striking out Kyle Schwarber, and getting a game-ending pop-out from Kris Bryant.

After the game, both Holbrook and Doolittle took issue with Maddon’s protest.

“In that moment, he’s not trying to do anything other than rattle me,” Doolittle told reporters. “And it was kind of tired. I don’t know, sometimes he has to remind people how smart he is and how much he pays attention to the game. So he put his stamp on it, for sure.”

Holbrook, meanwhile, said Doolittle did “absolutely nothing illegal at all.”