PHOENIX (AP) — Baltimore’s Gunnar Henderson and Arizona’s Corbin Carroll were the types of exciting players Major League Baseball hoped for when it tweaked its rules to encourage athleticism.
The young stars were rewarded Monday by being voted unanimous winners of the sport’s Rookie of the Year awards.
Henderson won the American League honor and Carroll the National League award after they both used used power, speed and defense to help their teams reach the playoffs just two years after 110-loss seasons.
MLB made a series of rules changes during the offseason, including a pitch clock, bans on extreme infield defensive shifts and limits on the number of times a pitcher can disengage from the rubber. Henderson and Carroll were among several young players who took advantage of the emphasis on athleticism, providing value all over the field.
Some big-league players were skeptical of the rules changes before the season. Carroll and Henderson — who had played with them in the minors — embraced them.
“My perspective, having played with them, was just let people see,” Carroll said. “I think people are going to enjoy it. I think this athletic brand of baseball is going to be good for the game. And it was.”
It was just the fifth time both the AL and NL selections were unanimous, the first since the New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger in 2017.
The 22-year-old Henderson split time between third base and shortstop, providing above-average defense at both spots, while batting .255 with 28 homers, 82 RBIs, 100 runs, 29 doubles and 10 stolen bases. The numbers were strikingly similar to Orioles Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr.’s first full season — another shortstop who won the award in 1982.
“I just tried to go out there and play as hard as I can,” Henderson said. “And I felt like that showed.”
Henderson received all 30 first-place votes and 150 points. Cleveland pitcher Tanner Bibee was second with 20 second-place votes and 67 points. Boston slugger Triston Casas was third with 25 points.
Texas third baseman Josh Jung finished fourth while Houston catcher Yainer Diaz was fifth.
Carroll’s season ended with a surprise appearance in the World Series, where the Diamondbacks fell to the Rangers in five games. The 23-year-old hit .285 with 25 homers and 54 stolen bases during the regular season, making the All-Star team and becoming the first rookie to join the 25-50 club.
The D-backs had been the last of the current 30 teams without a Rookie of the Year winner. He was pegged as a future star by the organization even before this season started, signing a $111 million, eight-year deal during spring training.
Mets pitcher Kodai Senga finished second with 22 second-place votes and 71 points. Dodgers outfielder James Outman was third, Colorado slugger Nolan Jones was fourth and Cincinnati infielder Matt McLain was fifth.
Henderson and Carroll both earned $750,000 from the pre-arbitration bonus pool for their wins. Bibee and Senga both get $500,000 for finishing in second.
The Baseball Writers’ Association of American votes on its awards before the postseason begins.
Henderson and Carroll were part of a superb MLB rookie class — particularly for hitters. According to FanGraphs data, the advanced metric Wins Above Replacement total for all rookie hitters in 2023 (68.5) was the second-best since 1900, behind only the 2015 group (75.1) headlined by Kris Bryant, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa and others.
The Orioles and D-backs both get an extra selection after the first round of July’s amateur draft, part the prospect promotion incentive added to the collective bargaining agreement that began last year. The provision was included to discourage teams from delaying arbitration and free-agent eligibility.
Bibee, 24, was 10-4 with a 2.98 ERA over 25 starts.
The 23-year-old Casas shook off a slow start to the season, hitting .263 with 24 homers. The 6-foot-5, 244-pounder was much better after the All-Star break, batting .317 with 15 homers and 38 RBIs, giving the Red Sox hope that they have a future star.
Outman hit .248 with 23 homers and 16 stolen bases while playing center field for the NL West champion Dodgers. The 30-year-old Senga — who pitched in Japan for 11 seasons before coming to MLB — had a 12-7 record with a 2.98 ERA, providing a bright spot in a rough season for the disappointing Mets.
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