After winning BBWAA hardware, Bryant and Correa joined by strong field
By Doug Miller
Astros shortstop Carlos Correa and Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant stormed onto the Major League scene in 2015, tortured opposing teams and continued their astounding success when they were announced as the Baseball Writers' Association of America Rookie of the Year Award winners for the American and National Leagues, respectively, on Monday night.
Only one can win the Esurance MLB Award, which is not league-specific and rewards the best of the best from Opening Day through the end of the World Series. Given those parameters, Correa and Bryant will be up against stiff competition from both leagues.
Awards season will come to a dramatic and fitting close on Friday night with the first edition of the Esurance MLB Awards, broadcast live on MLB Network and MLB.com at 8 ET and hosted by Brian Kenny and Dan Plesac.
In the case of Best Rookie, the honor will once again recognize that baseball's youth movement has been one of the biggest stories in the game in 2015. More than ever, it seems, rookies are impacting rosters and electrifying fans with a level of play that far exceeds their service time.
This year, we've seen highly touted prospects become Major League stars almost overnight.
In the American League alone, the MLB Esurance Best Rookie Award nominees include two spectacular shortstops in Correa and Cleveland's Francisco Lindor. If you like pure sluggers, you're covered with Bryant of the Cubs and Minnesota's Miguel Sano. Joc Pederson of the Dodgers and Billy Burns of the A's are speedy outfielders with different offensive skill sets; Pederson slugs and Burns does what his last name suggests all over the basepaths.
Matt Duffy of the Giants and Jung Ho Kang of the Pirates shored up their respective clubs' infields and added plenty of punch to their lineups upon their arrival in the big leagues. Catcher Kyle Schwarber of the Cubs and outfielder Randal Grichuk of the Cardinals also provided power.
The Esurance MLB Awards annually honor Major League Baseball's greatest achievements as part of an industry-wide balloting process that includes five components, each of which accounts for 20 percent of the overall vote: media, front-office personnel, retired MLB players, fans at MLB.com and Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) voters.
Individual awards will go to the Best Major Leaguer in addition to the winners in the following categories: Best Everyday Player, Starting Pitcher, Rookie, Defensive Player, Breakout Player, Bounceback Player, Manager, Executive, Social Media Personality and Postseason Performer.
Winners will also be recognized for the year's Best Offensive Play, Defensive Play, Moment, Single-Game Performance, Social Media Post, Celebrity Fan, Fan Catch, Interview, TV Call, Radio Call, Player-Fan Interaction, Video Board Moment and Trending Topic.
Correa, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 Draft, didn't arrive on the Major League scene until early June, but it didn't stop him from hitting 22 homers, driving in 68 runs, stealing 14 bases and putting up an OPS of .857. Lindor, who made it to the bigs six days after Correa, put up an OPS of .835, hit 12 homers, drove in 51 runs and stole 12 bases while playing excellent shortstop.
Meanwhile, Sano (18 homers, 68 RBIs, .915 OPS) did a lot after coming up to the Majors on July 2, and Bryant, who arrived on April 17, hit 26 homers and drove in 99 runs while slashing .275/.369/.488 en route to his Rookie of the Year honor.
Bryant's teammate, catcher Schwarber, wasn't promoted until June 16 but had 16 homers and 43 RBIs in 232 regular-season at-bats before becoming a homer-hitting machine in the postseason.
"It's pretty remarkable," Chicago starter Kyle Hendricks said of the Cubs duo. "You'd think they'd take a step back, but they keep hitting. It's fun to watch, especially for how young they are -- just coming up, to produce like this is unbelievable. It's fun to come to the ballpark every day and watch that."
The same is being said about Pederson (26 homers), Burns (.294 batting average, 26 stolen bases), Duffy (.295, 77 RBIs), Kang (.816 OPS, 15 homers) and Grichuk (.877 OPS, 17 homers).
And on the mound, one has to wonder where the Mets, Astros and Blue Jays would be without their star rookie pitchers.
Syndergaard (9-7, 3.24 ERA, 166 strikeouts in 150 regular-season innings, plus two postseason wins) has become a vital cog of a young New York rotation that made it to the World Series. McCullers (3.22 ERA, 129 strikeouts in 125 2/3 innings) helped power the Astros to the postseason, and Osuna (20 saves, 2.58 ERA) solidified the back end of a Blue Jays bullpen that came within two games of the Fall Classic.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.