Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger was named the 2017 National League Rookie of the Year Award victor on Monday, as voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America. He didn't earn his spot on the Yankees' roster until the final days of spring training, but by July - after winning the Home Run Derby and starting in the All-Star Game - he was being discussed as the new face of baseball, thanks to his marketable mixture of prodigious power, extreme size (6-foot-7, 280 pounds) and humble personality.
Judge, 25, is the first Yankee since Derek Jeter in 1996 to capture the Rookie of the Year award - also on a unanimous ballot.
The Dodgers, of course, could not finish the job in the World Series. None of the three came from a division champion, and two came from teams with losing records: Giancarlo Stanton, who hit a league-high 59 home runs for the Miami Marlins, and Joey Votto, who led the league with a 1.032 OPS for the Cincinnati Reds. That comes after a brief 2016 Major League Baseball debut in which Judge struck out 42 times in 84 at-bats.
And that mindset served Judge well, when he slumped after a scorching first half and when he encountered difficulty during an October stretch. "To have this award to top it off ... is really special for me".
Now the question is whether Judge can also take home the AL MVP, which will be announced Thursday. From that point on, he smashed 39 homers in only 132 games, exceeding the NL mark of 38 by Wally Berger (1930) and Frank Robinson (1956), while leading a 104-win Dodgers team in homers, RBI (97) and slugging percentage (.581).
As well as his home run exploits, Judge made 128 runs and 114 RBIs. "He covers a lot of ground and makes a lot of big plays". But he rebounded with a huge September when NY really needed it, leading the AL in homers (15), RBI (32), runs (29), on-base percentage (.463) and slugging percentage (.889).
Now, Judge will have to wait a couple more nights to find out whether or not he wins the MVP award and becomes the first Yankee to do that since Alex Rodriguez in 2007.
And Judge's 33 home runs at Yankee Stadium were the most by a Yankee in a single season at home, surpassing Babe Ruth's total of 32 in 1921.
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