Monday, November 10, 2008

Longoria and Soto Capture Rookie Honors

Evan Longoria, who helped the Rays to their first playoff appearance and catcher Geovanny Soto of the NL Central champion Cubs have been named the 2008 AL and NL Rookies of the Year.

Longoria was the guy that came with all the hype this year and our pre-season prediction. Alexei Ramirez was an unknown, a Cuban defector not expected to make an impact. Joba Chamberlain, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Clay Buchholz were all hyped up by the media based on the prior year's impact.

Of the rookies not named Longoria, Ramirez made the biggest splash, helping drive the White Sox to the AL West division crown. The 27-yr old finished at .277-21-90 and hit .333 from June 1st thru August 31st. Ramirez was clutch, hitting .398 with runners in scoring position and was versatile in the field, playing 121 games at second base, 16 games at shortstop, 11 games in center field, and 1 at third base.

Joba Chamberlain enjoyed a good season between the bullpen and starting rotation, though he didn't blow everyone away as a starter. Jacoby Ellsbury had a good season as well, stealing 50 bases, but he went through a prolonged slump before finishing at .280. Buchholz was a major disappointment. After throwing a no-hitter last September, Buchholz was hammered over 15 starts to the tune of a 6.75 ERA and some trips to the minor leagues where he finished the season.

But it was the superstar in the making, Longoria, who captured the baseball nation's attention. He hit .272-27-85 in 122 games and made the All-Star team in July. Longoria added 31 doubles, 2 triples, 7 stolen bases, and an .874 OPS. His glove work at third base was also solid.

2008 AL Rookie of the Year Voting
Player, Club 1st 2nd 3rd Points
Evan Longoria, TB 28

Alexei Ramirez, CWS
18 5 59
Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS
7 5 26
Mike Aviles, KC
2 3 9
Armando Galarraga, DET

9 9
Joey Devine, OAK
Denard Span, MIN

3 3
Nick Blackburn, MIN

1 1
Joba Chamberlain, NYY

1 1
Brad Ziegler, OAK

1 1

The Cincinnati Reds' young stud outfielder Jay Bruce and the Cubs Japanese import, and our pre-season prediction, Kusoke Fukodome, both came with even more hype than Soto, and Bruce's Cincy teammates Johnny Cuerto and Homer Bailey were also highly thought of (as it turned out another Red, Joey Votto, had a better year than all of them).

But Soto's impressive rookie season was made even more impressive by the position he plays. In addition to taking his daily swings, he had to call and manage the team's pitchers, including the always volatile Carlos Zambrano. The Cubs starters had a good season and that reflected well on Soto's defensive game.

The 25-yr old hit .285-23-86 in over 500 plate appearances. He added 35 doubles, 2 triples, and an .872 OPS. (His numbers were remarkably similiar to Longoria's). Behind the plate Soto threw out 26.5% of all base stealers and put up a .995 defensive mark.

2008 NL Rookie of the Year Voting
Player, Club 1st 2nd 3rd Points
Geovany Soto, CHC 31 1
Joey Votto, CIN 1 21 8 76
Jair Jurrjens, ATL
6 16 34
Edinson Volquez, CIN*
Jay Bruce, CIN

7 7
Kosuke Fukudome, CHC
1 1 4

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