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Julio Rodriguez and Michael Harris Win Rookie of the Yr Awards

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One made his team’s opening day roster. The opposite was not in the foremost leagues until late May. But once October got here around, Julio Rodríguez of the Seattle Mariners and Michael Harris II of the Atlanta Braves weren’t only the starting center fielders for his or her playoff teams, but each also had signed contract extensions that promised to maintain them in place into the 2030s.

On Monday, Rodríguez and Harris, each 21, won Major League Baseball’s Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Yr Awards, that are presented annually by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

For Rodríguez, who spoke boldly before the season about his ability to search out personal and team success with Seattle, which had not made the playoffs since 2001, the award seemed predestined. He struggled to hit in his first month, but ended up batting .284 with a .345 on-base percentage, 28 home runs and 25 stolen bases.

Mike Trout, for the 2012 Angels, and Chris Young, for the 2007 Diamondbacks, are the one other major leaguers to record a season of 25 home runs and 25 stolen bases as a rookie.

“I went through some shaky times originally of the 12 months, but I used to be in a position to keep on with myself, trust myself,” Rodríguez said in an interview on MLB Network. “All of the doubts I had all year long, I understand it’s going to serve me well along my profession.”

Along with his big personality and exciting mix of speed and power, Rodríguez was the American League’s rookie of the month in May and June before being named to the All-Star team in July. His popularity soared after he launched 81 home runs over three rounds within the Home Run Derby, losing within the finals to Juan Soto.

“It’s like a dream,” Rodríguez told reporters after his All-Star selection. “It’s like a dream that I had as a child, and with the ability to receive that without delay, in my first 12 months, I’m definitely excited in regards to the work that I’ve done.”

The accolades continued, and the Mariners placed an unlimited bet on Rodríguez’s future in August by agreeing to an enormous (and complex) contract extension that guarantees him $210 million over 12 years but may very well be price as much as $470 million if he hits certain benchmarks.

Rodríguez’s charmed season culminated with the Mariners snapping their 20-season playoff drought, which was the longest in the foremost men’s American team sports leagues. Seattle beat the Toronto Blue Jays within the wild-card round, but lost to the Houston Astros in a division series.

With 29 of 30 first-place votes, Rodríguez held off the A.L.’s other two finalists, Baltimore catcher Adley Rutschman and Cleveland outfielder Steven Kwan, in addition to Astros shortstop Jeremy Peña, who was not a finalist for his work within the regular season — he finished fifth behind the three finalists and Kansas City’s Bobby Witt Jr. — but who was the most useful player of the American League Championship Series and the World Series.

Harris, a third-round pick in 2019, didn’t arrive with the identical hype as Rodríguez — MLB.com ranked him because the Sixty fifth-best prospect within the minor leagues before the season — but he continued an extended tradition of Atlanta’s finding gems in its own backyard: He once starred at Stockbridge High School, about 40 miles south of Truist Park in suburban Atlanta.

“It’s crazy,” Harris said in an interview on MLB Network. “Being in Atlanta, growing up here and just even with the ability to stick with the house team and playing for a team I grew up rooting for and going to games for on a regular basis. It’s a extremely crazy moment, but I definitely didn’t have this one as certainly one of my goals.”

After batting .305 with an .878 on-base plus slugging percentage over the primary two months of the season at Class AA Mississippi, Harris was promoted to the majors. He proved he could help the team together with his bat, legs and glove: He was the National League’s rookie of the month in June, August and September.

Despite playing only 114 games, Harris hit .297 with 19 home runs, stole 20 bases and scored 75 runs. In the sector, he tied for the fourth-most defensive wins above substitute amongst center fielders, in response to Baseball Reference, but he played far fewer games than the players ahead of him on the list.

Continuing a recent trend of aggressively pursuing long-term deals with its young stars, Atlanta locked up Harris in August with an eight-year, $72 million extension that has him under contract through 2030 with club options for 2031 and 2032.

With 22 of 30 first-place votes, Harris held off the N.L.’s other two finalists: his Atlanta teammate Spencer Strider, a right-handed starting pitcher who also signed a lengthy contract extension with the team, and Brendan Donovan, a utility player for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Awards season will proceed this week with the Manager of the Yr Awards on Tuesday, the Cy Young Awards on Wednesday and the Most Precious Player Awards on Thursday.

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