Evan Longoria on Monday was named American League Rookie of the Year by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The news was hardly surprising, as Longoria, a unanimous selection, had by far the most impact of any rookie in the league. The 23-year-old third baseman batted .272/.343/.531, with a rookie-leading 27 homers and .874 OPS and 85 RBIs. He also provided outstanding defense at third base, playing a major part in the Rays’ dramatic improvement in run prevention.
Longoria collected 60 extra-base hits, which led all rookies in the majors, in only 448 at-bats, solidifying the Tampa Bay offense in the middle of the order. A 2006 first-round selection out of Long Beach State, he became the first player in franchise history to win a national award from the BBWAA after receiving all 28 first-place votes.
Chicago White Sox second baseman Alexei Ramirez finished second in the voting, with 18 second-place votes and 59 points total overall. Ramirez had a fine season in his own right, as he belted 21 home runs, including a rookie record five grand slams, while driving in 77. The second baseman exceeded all expectations in his first year in Chicago by batting .290/.317/.475 overall, but leaves a lot to be desired with his poor on-base skills.
Boston Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and Kansas City Royals infielder Mike Aviles also garnered second-place votes, finishing in third and fourth place, respectively.
Ellsbury, following an excellent World Series in 2007, was the pre-season favorite. The Boston center fielder struggled a bit, though, finishing the year with a disappointing .336 OBP and .394 slugging percentage. While he played exceptional defense in a number of outfield positions, he lost his starting job to Coco Crisp down the stretch.
Aviles had a fine debut campaign for the Royals, batting .325//354/.480, with 10 home runs and 53 RBIs in 419 at-bats. In fact, he provided one of the few offensive bright spots in Kansas City. At 27, he is obviously old for a rookie and is unlikely to turn into a superstar, but his .834 OPS was exceptional for a shortstop.
Manager Joe Maddon is expected to be named Manager of the Year later this week, as the Rays are beginning to cash in and reap the benefits of their magical worst-to-first season.
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