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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).

Giants sign Darin Ruf to minor league contract

Darin Ruf
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The Athletic’s Jayson Stark reports that the Giants have signed 1B/OF Darin Ruf to a minor league contract.

Ruf, 33, played parts of five seasons in the majors with the Phillies from 2012-16, enjoying occasional offensive success. He spent the last three seasons in the KBO League in South Korea with the Samsung Lions, reigniting his career. Ruf hit an aggregate .313/.404/.564 with 86 home runs and 350 RBI over 1,756 plate appearances.

Ruf joins an ever-increasing list of players whose major league careers fizzled out, then found new life overseas — Eric Thames and Miles Mikolas are a couple of examples. Ruf will hope to prove himself as a big leaguer once more in spring training with the Giants.