Did Sho-Time Steal the RoY?

Photo Credit: Shinya Suzuki | Flikr

By: Eric Boston 

New York Yankee fans may not be happy with me on this one. Stick with me please and let me make my case.

When the American League Rookie of the Year Award was announced and Shohei Ohtani claimed the hardware, the Evil Empire expressed their frustration.

Even Sir Didi Gregorius got in on the shade tossing:

Do not get me wrong, Miguel Andujar had an amazing year.

The rookie third baseman slashed .297/.328/.527 with 27 HRs, 92 RBIs, and 47 doubles in 573 at-bats. 

In black and white those numbers are more than worthy of the RoY award. If this start continues, the Yankees have yet another star player in their loaded lineup. Andujar and his New York squad are also going to find themselves in the championship conversation for the foreseeable future.

So how did Ohtani end up with the award?

First, let's compare Sho-Time's offensive output to that of Andujar.

The most obvious thing to notice is that Ohtani amassed only 326 at-bats compared to Andujar's 573. That, of course, was due to an elbow injury that eventually led to Tommy John surgery for the two-way prospect once the Angels season came to an end. In a smaller sample size, Ohtani still slashed .285/.361/.564 while launching 22 HRs, 61 RBIs, and 21 doubles.

Are we starting to see why Ohtani was a perfectly acceptable choice for RoY?

If not, then let us take it a step further.

If we keep his slash line the same and use his peripheral percentages to adjust those totals for 573 at-bats, equalling Andujar, these are the totals we end up with. In the same number of at-bats Ohtani would have finished with 38 HRs, 107 RBIs, and 36 doubles.

The only category that Andujar would have bested Ohtani would have been doubles and that is not taking into account Ohtani's performance on the mound yet.

Ohtani started 10 games for the Angels going 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA. He struck out 63 batters and walked 22 in 51.2 IP.

With this type of two-way performance, there was simply no way that any other player was going to win the RoY in the American League without a historic season. 

The small sample size argument does not apply with Ohtani either.

I know @AndrewwM_ attempted to compare Ohtani to another Yankee, Gary Sanchez.

While Sanchez had an incredible power output during 53 games in 2016, the fact remains that it was still roughly a third of a season. That was not enough games to take home an award based on a year-long performance.

Ohtani, on the other hand, appeared in 104 games (around two-thirds of a season) which is much more on par with a full rookie year. Especially if you account for the fact that many top prospects are held in the minors for the purpose of service time.

If we want to compare Ohtani to another Japanese star in Hideki Matsui, we can do that as well. 

Yes, both Ohtani and Matsui played professional baseball in Japan. In arguably the second best baseball league in the world. Even so, there is a big difference here as well.

Matusi was 28 when he came to the MLB and had spent a decade playing pro-ball in Japan. Ohatani came to the states at 23 years of age putting him clearly in the age range of most top prospects when they get their call to the bigs. (For reference Andujar is 23 as well, National League RoY Ronald Acuna is 20) 

Matusi was clearly in his prime as he made his transition. Ohtani is still developing. Based on the performance he showed in 2018, he could develop into one of the game's elite.

One thing that we know for sure is this, award voting is not always perfect. Most years there are not clear, runaway winners for any award. There are often multiple worthy players in each category. 

As fans, it is easy to feel robbed when "our guys" don't get the nod. However, as fans of the game itself, we need to appreciate these incredible performances as they come. They equal long-term success for the greatest game there is. 

Oh, and to the Yankee fans...if your team is holding a championship trophy next season I doubt you will be busy thinking about how Andujar was robbed of this award. Trust me, as it stands that is a more likely outcome than it is for Ohtani.


What are your thoughts on the AL RoY voting? Did Ohtani deserve the award over Andujar? Leave your thoughts in the comments here or reach out to us on our Social Media accounts. If you are looking for a place to have your voice heard, we are always looking for contributors and guest contributors as well. Check out our Join Us page for info!

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