Yordan Álvarez may have gotten a late start to his rookie season, but the Houston Astros slugger left no doubt that he belongs at the head of his class.
Álvarez, a 21-year-old designated hitter with game-changing power, was named the AL Rookie of the Year on Monday by a unanimous vote of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Baltimore Orioles pitcher John Means ended second in the voting. Tampa Bay Rays infielder Brandon Lowe was third.
The American League did not feature a particularly strong crop of rookies beyond Álvarez. He established his superiority almost instantly upon his call up on June 9, launching a rookie-record four home runs in his first five MLB games. He would go on to establish several landmark records for his home run and RBI production, besting legends such as Ted Williams and Albert Pujols.
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Álvarez ended his rookie season with a .313/.412/.655 batting line, 27 home runs and 78 RBIs in just 87 games.
That was after he hit .343/.443/.742 with 23 homers and 71 RBIs in 56 games at Triple-A. That is outrageous production.
Lowe, 25, had a rock-solid campaign for the Rays, hitting 17 home runs in 327 plate appearances while slashing .270/.336/.514. He certainly played a role in their clinching of the AL’s second wild card. Means, 26, was the lone All-Star and bright spot on the Orioles last-place squad. He posted a respectable 3.60 ERA versus tough competition, all while the pitching staff around him put up historically futile numbers.
Both deserve a nod, but neither would win the award even without a dominate candidate like Álvarez. Álvarez is now the third Astros player to acquire the Rookie of the Year award, joining Jeff Bagwell (1991) and Carlos Correa (2015).