A star is born in Seattle.
Outfielder Kyle Lewis, whose combination of power, speed and excellent defense provided a much-needed source of optimism for Mariners fans, was named the American League Rookie of Year on Monday following a unanimous vote by the Baseball Writers Association of America. He’s the first Mariners player to win the award since Ichiro Suzuki in 2001 and the franchise’s fourth winner overall. Amazingly, that list doesn’t include Ken Griffey Jr.
Lewis received all 30 first-place votes to beat out Chicago White Sox outfielder Luis Robert and Houston Astros pitcher Cristian Javier. Robert finished second with 27 second-place votes. Javier was third, followed by Sean Murphy of the A’s and Willi Castro of the Tigers.
Here are the full standings, via the BBWAA. You can find individual ballots on their site.
Lewis, 25, established himself quickly at the plate, collecting 25 hits, four home runs and eight walks over his first 17 games. Though his average dipped significantly from that point on — he finished with a .262/.364/.437 batting line — all other aspects of his game continued to measure up well. When the dust settled, Lewis finished tied with Robert for the lead among all rookies with 11 homers.
He also swiped five bases and provided one of the defensive plays of the season when he robbed Oakland’s Ramón Laureano of a grand slam.
Plays like that helped Lewis fend off some worthy challengers.
Robert, 23, had a similar season in Chicago and had a lot more hype too after signing a six-year, $50 million contract before making his MLB debut. Robert started red hot, hitting .298/.348/.612 with 10 homers and eight doubles over his first 33 games. He slowed down considerably in September, hitting just .136 with one homer, but he still led all rookies with 31 RBIs. Robert was also tremendous defensively, as evidenced by his Gold Glove award.
Javier, 23, stepped into a key role for Houston after Gerrit Cole left in free agency and Justin Verlander suffered a season-ending elbow injury. He answered the call, posting a 3.48 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 10 starts and two relief appearances. Javier finished with 54 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings.
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