Athletics

And the MLB Rookies of the Year are.......

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And the MLB Rookies of the Year are.......

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Mike Trout and Bryce Harper were teammates on the Scottsdale Scorpions last fall. The outfielders arrived in the major leagues on the same April day this year, both played in the All-Star game and they won Rookie of the Year awards a half-hour apart Monday, the vanguard of baseball's next generation.The 21-year-old Trout was a unanimous pick as the youngest AL rookie winner, and the 20-year-old Harper edged Arizona pitcher Wade Miley 112 points to 105 to become the second-youngest winner of the NL honor."It's pretty neat," said Trout, the son of former Minnesota minor leaguer Jeff Trout.For the first time, players learned the voting results when they were announced on television."My heart was beating a little bit," Harper said.Trout, who turned 21 on Aug. 7, received all 28 first-place votes from the AL panel of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. The Los Angeles Angels center fielder was the eighth unanimous AL pick and the first since Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria in 2008.There could be more to come, too. Trout is among five finalists for AL MVP and is considered the chief challenger to Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera for that award, which will be announced Thursday."It would just top it off," Trout said.Trout hit .326, second-best in the league to Cabrera's .330, with 30 homers and 83 RBIs, and he led the majors with 129 runs and 49 steals. He joined Ted Williams, Mel Ott and Alex Rodriguez as the only players to hit .320 or higher with 30 or more homers in seasons they started as a 20-year-old.Trout received the maximum 140 points. Oakland outfielder Yoenis Cespedes was second with 63, followed by Texas pitcher Yu Darvish (46), who joined Trout as the only players listed on every ballot.Detroit second baseman Lou Whitaker had been the youngest AL winner in 1978, but he was 3 months, 5 days older than Trout on the day he took home the award.In addition to Trout and Longoria, the only other unanimous AL winners were Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter, Tim Salmon, Sandy Alomar Jr., Mark McGwire and Carlton Fisk.Trout's father made it to Double-A as an infielder with the Twins in the mid-1980s and watched his son build a career growing up in New Jersey, where the seasons are short and cold."He went out and did it and endured it," Jeff Trout said.Added mom Debbie: "All the hard work paid off."Trout, taken by the Angels with the 25th overall pick in the 2009 amateur draft, still lives at home with his parents during the offseason. The award will join others in the family house."He gets a lot of good home cooking," Jeff Trout said.Trout spent some time in the majors last year but still retained his rookie status. He began this season in the minors and made his first big league appearance this year on April 28 -- the day of Harper's major league debut.Trout was on a flight from Salt Lake City to Cleveland when he saw on Twitter that Harper was being called up the same day.Harper turned 20 on Oct. 16 and has been hyped for years. When he was just 16, he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the headline "CHOSEN ONE.""He's been put on the spotlight since he was 15 years old," Trout said.The Washington Nationals outfielder got 16 of 32 first-place votes from the NL panel. Miley was second with 12 first-place votes, followed by Cincinnati slugger Todd Frazier with three firsts and 45 points. Harper appeared on every ballot, and Bill Center of U-T San Diego was the only voter who didn't include Miley.Harper was the top pick in the 2010 amateur draft and batted .270 with 22 home runs and 59 RBIs as Washington brought postseason play to the nation's capital for the first time since 1933. Only Tony Conigliaro (24) hit more home runs as a teenager."Every little kid's dream is to be a big league ballplayer or a doctor or a firefighter or whatever everybody wants to be," Harper said. "That was my dream and I wanted to make that dream come true as quickly as possible."At 20 years, 27 days on Monday, he was 24 days older than New York Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden when he won the NL award in 1984."This game is unbelievable. I love it with everything I've got," Harper said, "and I'm going to play every single day like it's my last."And the admiration of Harper and Trout is mutual, especially after their time together last year with Scottsdale in the Arizona Fall League, for the game's premier prospects."He's one of the best players in baseball, if not the best right now," Harper said. "He's pretty impressive every day he plays."For now, each has a rookie award. In the future, they may earn MVPs on the same day."We play the game the right way," Trout said. "We're always running out balls. He's always hustling, trying to make that big play."NOTES:For winning the award, Trout earned a 10,000 bonus on top of his 482,500 salary. ... Harper became the first Nationals player to win a BBWAA award since the franchise moved from Montreal to Washington in 2005. ... Under a new format this year, both league's winners are announced on the same day with the winner revealed on the MLB Network. Manager of the Year voting will be revealed Tuesday, followed by the Cy Young Awards on Wednesday and MVPs the following day.

A's rookie Olson stays humble during record-breaking power surge

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A's rookie Olson stays humble during record-breaking power surge

OAKLAND — Matt Olson is aware of the company he’s keeping in the A’s record books.

His reaction is a mix of reverence and a shrug-of-the-shoulders type humbleness.

That’s the personality of the A’s rookie first baseman. Even as the conversation about him and his awe-inspiring home run pace grows louder, he remains the same steady, grounded presence.

“I’m happy for him,” A’s hitting coach Darren Bush said. “The guy’s worked his butt off. He’s the same today as was when he first got called up.”

Olson cleared the fences once again Friday night, his two-run homer off Nick Martinez in the second inning helping the A’s to a 4-1 victory over the Texas Rangers. At this point, it’s much more newsworthy when Olson doesn’t homer than when he does.

He’s crammed 24 homers into just 57 games this season. Taking into account his first call-up last September, and Olson’s 24 homers over the first 68 games of his career are the second-most in the history of major league baseball over that span to open a career. The Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger also hit 24 and only the White Sox’s Jose Abreu, with 25, hit more over his first 68.

Olson’s 13 homers in September are the most by any rookie in major league history for the month, and there’s still eight games left in it. But Olson’s hot streak dates back to Aug. 27. He’s hit a major league-best 16 homers in 23 games since then.

Among rookies in A’s history, only Mark McGwire (49) in 1987 and Jose Canseco (33) in 1986 have hit more than Olson’s 24. But neither Bash Brother, nor any other player in Oakland history, ever hit 15 homers in a 21-game span as Olson recently did.

“It’s definitely an honor,” Olson said before Friday’s game. “I grew up with a Mark McGwire poster on my wall. It’s a little surreal.”

Who saw this coming?

Olson went 2-for-21 without a single RBI in his first taste of the bigs last September. Then he shuttled five times between Triple-A and the majors this season before getting called up once again Aug. 8 and being told he’d get a shot as the A’s regular first baseman with Yonder Alonso having been traded. The constant shuttling took its toll, though Olson never let on about that publicly to reporters.

“You could see (the frustration),” said Ryan Christenson, his manager at Triple-A. “When he walks in and you tell him ‘You’re getting sent up,’ and he’s like, ‘Well, how many days is it for this time?’ He wouldn’t voice it necessarily, but you could sense it.”

Olson, with help from Bush and others, made an adjustment coming into this season. He began holding his hands out farther away from his body to begin his swing. With his 6-foot-5 frame, Olson had found himself getting jammed inside. Then in trying to adjust to that, he couldn’t square up pitches on the outer half.

“Now, his hands are firing from where he wants them to,” Bush said. “He doesn’t have to fight. You want your hands to have a clean path. Now he can stay in there, stay behind the ball, let his hands work for him.”

Olson, a 23-year-old from Lilburn, Ga., takes this sudden burst of success — and attention — in stride.

“I’ve been hit with so many stats here in the past week, I can’t even keep track of who’s done what, and honestly what I’ve done,” he said. “I kind of try to ignore all that.”

That’s OK. Others are taking plenty of notice.

 

As Dodgers celebrate, Bochy turns eyes to franchise-altering talent

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As Dodgers celebrate, Bochy turns eyes to franchise-altering talent

LOS ANGELES — The Giants left their dugout quickly after Friday’s loss, escaping a celebration on the mound and a fireworks show in the sky. As Dodger Stadium shook with cheers, Bruce Bochy sat in the visiting clubhouse and smiled. He nodded at his laptop, which earlier had been used to pull up highlights of Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani. 

“He’s good,” Bochy said, laughing. “I absolutely would play him every day.”

Earlier in the week, when it became known that Bobby Evans and Jeremy Shelley were headed to Japan to scout Otani, Bochy said he couldn’t imagine a player pitching and then moving to the outfield between starts. What changed? 

Perhaps it was the tape Bochy saw. Otani throws 100 mph and hits homers with ease. Or perhaps it was the game he watched Friday. The Giants lost for the 94th time, with the big blow coming from a 22-year-old Dodgers star. Cody Bellinger’s blast was the difference in a 4-2 win, and the Giants don’t have a Bellinger, or anything close. Otani, 23, is a long shot for a team that very well could finish with the worst record in baseball. Still, he’s the kind of talent that could help pull the Giants closer in a hurry. He’s the  kind of talent they haven’t developed in years, and Bochy certainly sounded a bit wistful as he talked of the power Bellinger has put on display. 

“You call up a guy and he does that — that just doesn’t happen,” he said. “It’s a rare deal.”

The ninth inning of the Dodgers’ clincher reinforced that point for the Giants. They got a homer from Pablo Sandoval, but he’s playing only because Christian Arroyo — the Giants’ best prospect bet this year — is hurt. Ryder Jones, their 23-year-old prospect, struck out to end the night, dropping his average to .180. 

That set off a celebration for Bellinger and the Dodgers. They have won five straight NL West titles, with three of the last four clinched against the Giants. 

“Congrats to them,” Bochy said. “They’ve had a tremendous year across the board, and they’ve played great baseball. They brought some guys up that really did a great job for them. It’s well deserved.”

Bochy said it was not difficult to watch this one. The division has been wrapped up for months, with only a September slide keeping the Dodgers from clinching earlier. 

“We knew what we were facing here,” Bochy said. 

The Giants have two more against the Dodgers and then six more before a long winter. The Dodgers, on the other hand, will host an NLDS series here at Dodger Stadium. Both Bochy and starter Jeff Samardzija made the same observation, that the Dodgers will have a hard time cutting their deep roster down to 25 postseason players. 

That’s a nice problem to have. It’s a foreign one right now for the Giants, who have a serious talent gap and no clear solutions internally. It’s no wonder, then, that Bochy has all of a sudden become so intrigued by a wondrous talent overseas.