Miguel Sano is only 22, so he figures to improve significantly as his Twins career goes on. And he’s not too bad now.
Sano finished third in balloting for the AL Rookie of the Year award, the Baseball Writers Association of American announced on Monday, the highest finish for a Twin since Danny Valencia’s third-place ranking in 2010. Outfielder Eddie Rosario, who led the majors with 15 triples, finished sixth.
Houston shortstop Carlos Correa earned AL Rookie of the Year honors after leading all rookies with 22 home runs, becoming just the second Astro to be named top rookie. Jeff Bagwell won the NL’s Rookie of the year award in 1991.
Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor, who batted .313 with 12 home runs and strong defense, finished second. The voting was relatively close; Correa received 17 first-place votes, worth five points each, and 13 second-place votes, worth three points, giving him 124 points overall. Linder received 13, 14 and two third-place votes, worth one point each, for a total of 109.
In the National League, Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, who hit 26 home runs with 99 RBIs, was a unanimous selection for NL Rookie of the Year, with Giants second baseman Matt Duffy second and Pirates shortstop Jung Ho Kang third.
Sano, who debuted as the Twins’ designated hitter on July 2, launched 18 home runs and collected 52 RBIs in 80 games. But he was hurt in the balloting by not playing defense, a situation that the Twins say will change next year, apparently by moving the slugger to the outfield.
The Dominican slugger was a sensation after being called up directly from Class AA Chattanooga in July, at one point hitting eight home runs in a two-week span. His .385 on-base percentage and .530 slugging percentage gave him a .916 OPS, eighth-best in the entire league and tied with Tony Oliva in 1964 for highest ever by a Twins rookie.
For his strong season, Sano was chosen last month as the Twins MVP by the Twin Cities chapter of the BBWAA.
Sano received no first- or second-place votes, but was third on 20 of the 30 ballots, easily finishing third. Rosario collected two third-place votes to finish sixth behind Correa, Lindor, Sano, Toronto righthander Robert Osuna and Oakland center fielder Billy Burns.
No Twin has been named Rookie of the Year since Marty Cordova in 1995. Sano is the third Twin since then to finish third, joining Valencia in 2010 and Francisco Liriano in 2006. The last time two Twins received Rookie of the Year votes was 2008, when Denard Span tied for sixth and Nick Blackburn tied for eighth place.
Ballots were cast by a 30-member panel of BBWAA members, two representing each AL city. Minnesota voters were Andy Greder of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, who voted Correa-Lindor-Sano, and Twins official scorer Gregg Wong, a former Pioneer Press writer, who voted Correa-Lindor-Rosario.
On Tuesday, the BBWAA will announce this year’s managers of the year — Paul Molitor is one of three AL finalists — followed by the Cy Young awards on Wednesday and the MVP awards on Thursday.