The rookie of the year winners were announced today. It’s a no brainer in the American League as Mike Trout took home the award and Bryce Harper narrowly won in the National League. This got me thinking of past winners for our Royals. The Royals have won four rookie of the year awards since their inception in 1969.
In the organization’s very first season, Lou Piniella received the award after hitting .282 and belting 11 home runs while driving in 68 runs. He played four more seasons for the Royals and was an All-Star in 1972. He is most known for his managerial resume as he has been named manager of the year three times and has done so in both leagues. He’s also won three world championships, two as a player and one as a manager. He finished his career with 1705 hits and received two votes for the Hall of Fame in 1990.
The next Royals player to win the award would be Bob Hamelin, 25 years later. “The Hammer” mashed 24 home runs while hitting .282 and driving in 65 runs during his award-winning season. Hamelin played two more seasons for the Royals after 1994 and ended his major league career in 1998 with the Milwaukee Brewers. Hamelin battled vision and leg problems throughout his career which played a part in his decision to call it quits during the middle of the season for the Tigers Triple-A affiliate in 1999. Hamelin is back in baseball as of 2012 as a scout for the Boston Red Sox.
The next winner is one of the most notable names in Royals history. Carlos Beltran hit .293 with 22 home runs, drove in 108 runs and stole 27 bases to garner his recognition as the best rookie in the AL. Beltran went on to have several great seasons after his rookie year with the Royals. In 2004, he was traded to the Astros where he went on to tie Barry Bonds‘s single postseason record of 8 home runs. Beltran has a very impressive resume to date. He is a seven time All-Star and three time Gold Glove winner and he has also won two Silver Sluggers. I would think he has a shot at being inducted into the Hall of Fame in the future. He could certainly end up with over 2500 hits to go along with his 300+ home runs and 300+ stolen bases.
Four years later, in 2003, Angel Berroa brought back some hardware as he won the award with a .287 batting average, 17 home runs, 73 RBI, and 21 stolen bases. He had a lot of stiff competition that year as Rocco Baldelli, Jody Gerut, and Hideki Matsui all had deserving seasons as well. Unfortunately, 2001 would be the high point in Berroa’s career. The low point would likely be in 2006, where he was dead last among all American League qualifiers in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. He is now playing for the New Jersey Jackals in the Canadian-American Association after a few brief stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, and New York Mets.
Who knows, maybe the Royals have the next rookie of the year winner as Wil Myers should undoubtedly get his chance to shine next year in the big leagues. He will be a front runner in most peoples minds as we head towards the spring.