Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez was asked in mid-September about the race for the 2018 NL Rookie of the Year, which seemed likely at that point to come down to a battle between Atlanta Braves’ outfielder Ronald Acuña, Jr. and Nats’ outfielder Juan Soto, both of whom he had seen plenty of this season.
“You’re talking about two premier young players going at it, and they’re both good players,” Martinez told reporters. “Of course I’m biased to Soto after watching him play all year, every day, and what he does and what he brings to us, I mean, he’s unbelievable, he really is. And I’m sure they can say that about Acuña, but it’s going to interesting, like I said, they’re both having great years and they’re going to be fun to watch for a lot of years.”
Acuña, Soto, and Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher Walker Buehler were named finalists for the NL ROY last week, after the results of the voting, which took place at the end of the regular season, were officially announced.
Tonight on the MLB Network, the winner was announced, with Acuña getting the nod after a rookie campaign which saw the 20-year-old put up a .293/.366/.552 line, with 26 doubles, 26 home runs, 78 runs, 64 RBIs, 45 walks, 123 Ks, and 143 wRC+ in 111 games and 487 plate appearances, over which he was worth 3.7 fWAR.
Soto, who turned 20 in late October, finished the 2018 season with a .292/.406/.517 line, 25 doubles, 77 runs, 70 RBIs, 79 walks, 99 strikeouts, and 146 wRC+ in 116 games and 494 PAs, over which he too was worth 3.7 fWAR.
Acuña was ranked first among NL rookies (with a minimum of 400 PAs) in OPS (.917), SLG, HRs, AVG, and OPS+ (144), ranked second in OBP, wOBA (.388), wRC+, and in runs scored, third in RBIs, and fourth in BB% (9.2%).
Soto ended up ranked first among NL rookies in OBP, OPS (.923), RBIs, walks, BB% (16.0%), wOBA (.392), and wRC+, and was second in SLG, HRs, AVG, and OPS+ (142), while coming in third in runs scored.
Buehler, 24, went (8-5) in 24 appearances (and 23 starts) with a 2.62 ERA, 3.04 FIP, 37 walks (2.42 BB/9), 151 Ks (9.90 K/9), and a .184/.249/.282 line against in 136 1⁄3 innings pitched (as a starter), finishing up at 3.3 fWAR overall.