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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).

Watch: Christian Yelich continues to make a case for NL MVP repeat

Christian Yelich
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Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.

The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.

While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.

Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.

It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.