The outcome of the American League Rookie of the Year voting wasn’t a surprise to anyone who actually watched a decent amount of baseball this year.
Angels super phenom Mike Trout ran away with the award, receiving all 28 first-place votes for 140 total points.
If there was suspense, it was around second place in the voting: A’s outfielder Yoenis Cespedes or Rangers starter Yu Darvish both of whom helped their teams reach the playoffs.
Any drama ended Monday afternoon, when it was announced that Cespedes finished ahead of Darvish, receiving 19 of the 28 2nd place votes and finishing with 63 total points. Darvish finished with 46 total points.
Trout and Darvish were named on all 28 ballots, but Cespedes was left off three ballots. Voters were only allowed to name three players on their ballot.
Cespedes battled minor injuries all season, but played in 129 games. While he’s a natural center fielder, he played more games in left field (56) than he did in center (46).
In those 129 games, Cespedes showed off all the skills scouts had raved about. He continually awed fans with his impressive power, crushing home runs into the second tier of bleacher seats at O.co Coliseum. He finished his first season with 23 home runs and a staggering .505 slugging percentage.
Many scouts wondered if Cespedes would be able to come to America, skip the minor leagues, jump right to the majors and not look overmatched. And for the first month, they may have been right. The rookie was hitting .245 with five home runs when he hurt his hand during batting practice on May 8. In those 28 games, he had 29 strikeouts and only nine walks.
But when he came back from his injury on June 1, he was a different player. In 19 games in June, Cespedes hit .343 with four home runs and just 13 strikeouts. In July, he was even better, hitting .344 with five home runs and 19 RBI.
And when the A’s needed him most, Cespedes really stepped it up. In September and intof October, he hit .261 with seven home runs and 19 RBI. He also walked 15 times and scored 19 runs, by far his highest totals of the season.
Cespedes finished the season with a .292 batting average, 23 home runs, 82 RBI and 16 stolen bases. And he wasn’t too shabby on defense, committing just three errors and piling up nine outfield assists.
While he didn’t win the Al Rookie of the Year, Cespedes was probably the A’s MVP. In his 129 games, the A’s went 82-47. Without him, the A’s went 12-21.
Clearly, Cespedes is a difference maker and the A’s are lucky to have him in the middle of their lineup for the next three seasons. He’s just getting started and is going to get a lot better.