Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager and Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Michael Fulmer took home honors as MLB’s top rookies for the 2016 season on Monday. Seager was voted National League Rookie of the Year, and Fulmer got the nod for the American League.
Seager earned every single NL first-place vote to run away with the tallying from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. He beat out teammate Kenta Maeda and Nationals center fielder Trea Turner to become the second straight unanimous NL ROTY after Kris Bryant a year ago.
It’s no surprise that the Los Angeles shortstop won the trophy given his spectacular debut. Seager recorded 40 doubles, 26 home runs, and 105 runs scored with a .308 batting average and .365 on-base percentage in 157 games last season. With 6.1 wins above replacement, per Baseball-Reference, he easily outpaced Turner (3.5 WAR) and Maeda (2.4 WAR).
In the AL voting, Fulmer beat out Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez and Indians center fielder Tyler Naquin. He’s the first Detroit pitcher to win Rookie of the Year since Justin Verlander ran away with the award in 2006.
Fulmer recorded a 3.06 ERA in 26 starts with the Tigers in 2016. He struck out 132 and walked just 42 in 159 innings, and his performance was valued at 4.9 wins above replacement by Baseball-Reference. The pitcher is an interesting character who spends his offseasons working as a plumber for the uncle of a good friend, which shows the kind of work ethic he has.
Sanchez (3.0 WAR) and Naquin (0.9 WAR) also had strong debut seasons, but neither could match the performance of Fulmer. Sanchez in particular has a bright future after clubbing 12 doubles and 20 home runs in just 229 plate appearances, although his ability to stick at catcher long-term will help determine just how valuable he can be.