Monday, November 10, 2008

Longoria & Soto Win AL & NL Rookie of Year Honors

Not surprisingly, Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria and Chicago Cubs catcher Geovany Soto captured 2008 Rookie of the Year honors in the AL and NL, respectively.

Longoria was not with the Rays on Opening Day in 2008 but would be called up in mid-April. He hit .272 with 27 homeruns and drove in 85 runs. Although only 22 years old, only Carlos Pena put up better offensive numbers for the Rays who won their franchise's first American League championship in 2008. The Rays quickly signed Longoria to a 6-year contract worth $17 million - a bargain in this day and age.

Longoria was a unanimous selection of the Baseball Writers Association of America. He was the first rookie to receive a unanimous since 1997 when Nomar Garciaparra won the AL Rookie of the Year with the Boston Red Sox. Longoria is the first Ray to win this honor.

Geovany Soto was a key part of the Cubs NL Central Division championship team. Soto became the first catcher to win NL Rookie of the Year honors since Mike Piazza did so with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1993. After getting cups of coffee with the Cubs in 2005, 2006 and 2007, Soto finally stuck with the big league club in 2008 hitting .285 with 23 homeruns and 86 runs driven in. He also played stellar defense behind the plate. Soto is the first Cub to win NL Rookie of the Year honors since 1998 when teammate Kerry Wood earned that distinction.

Some rookies of the year go on to Hall of Fame careers (i.e. Mike Piazza, Derek Jeter, Carlos Beltran and Albert Pujols) while others fade into obscurity (i.e. Pat Listach, Bob Hamelin, Marty Cordova and Ben Grieve). Will Longoria and Soto be superstars or have they reached the peak of their careers? Only time and good health will tell.

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