When it comes to the 2017 American League Rookie of the Year Award, unanimously won by New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge last night, it’s OK to swing and miss.
Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi whiffed when he finished second to Judge, who received all 30 first-place votes. Benintendi earned 23 second-place votes and six thirds.
Whiffing is usually Judge’s thing.
Judge will stay in the spotlight in New York, where he hit 52 homers and led the Yankees to within one game of the World Series.
In the National League, first baseman Cody Bellinger became the second straight Los Angeles Dodgers player to win Rookie of the Year and 18th overall when he was the unanimous pick like Judge, with St. Louis Cardinals infielder Paul DeJong a distant second. Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager won the honor in 2016.
This is the first time both Rookie of the Year awards were unanimous since 1997 (Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra and Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Scott Rolen).
Benintendi is already a fan favorite in Boston after a 20-20 season.
“The cool thing about that is if you look around the league, there are a lot of young faces that can be the face of MLB,” Judge said last night on a conference call. “You look at a lot of the rookies we had this year, a lot of the younger guys in their early-to-mid 20s and how they’ve impacted the game, we have a special group here in Major League Baseball.”
Benintendi looked like a spark plug with some pop, a player who should hit near the top of the order while showing the ability to come through in the clutch (he hit .350 with runners in scoring position).
“Well, he had a good year,” president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said yesterday. “When you looked at Benintendi, if you would have said before the year he’d produce what he did — 20 home runs and 90 RBIs and played solidly for us every day, and swung the bat — I think very good job by a rookie. I think this year it gets a little overshadowed just because of Judge’s year. I don’t remember anybody . . . I know that never happened, a guy hit 52 home runs as a rookie. So, it gets a little overshadowed, but Benintendi had a fine year for us. He was a really good player and looks like he could be a good player for a long time.”
The Sox believe there is untapped power in Benintendi’s bat. Similar to Sox right fielder Mookie Betts, a simple change in hitting philosophy has the potential to unlock the…