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Some Rookies of the Year Winners Had Hall of Fame Careers… and Some Didn’t


Some Rookies of the Year Winners Had Hall of Fame Careers… and Some Didn’t

It’s an interesting thing about the Rookie of the Year Award. Fans are excited about having a potential new superstar in the League and expect many years of great play.

That will be the case this year for the likely National League and American League Rookie of the Year (RoY) winners, the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger and the Yankees’ Aaron Judge.

Sometimes the RoY goes to players who move on to greatness, and indeed there are a number of Rookies of the Year who have made it to the Hall of Fame.

But not as many as you think. (We’ll get to that soon.)

In 2017 there are a few former Rookies of the Year who have made their impact on the game and—if they continue as they have been playing—could wind up in the Hall of Fame:

  • National League: Buster Posey of the Giants (RoY 2010) and Bryce Harper of the Nationals (RoY 2012)
  • American League: Mike Trout of the Angels (RoY 2012)

  • And there are several active players and former Rookies of the Year—who are at the end of their careers—who also seem to be a lock for the Hall of Fame:
  • Albert Pujols (Cardinals, Angels)
  • Ichiro Suzuki (Mariners, Marlins)

  • There is one player who retired three years ago who would seem to be a shoo-in for the Hall:
  • Derek Jeter (Yankees)

  • However, being Rookie of the Year doesn’t guarantee fame and fortune in Major League Baseball.

    These RoYs never became household names or stars. (Do you recognize any?)
  • American League: Ron Hansen, Don Schwall, Stan Bahnsen
  • National League: Carl Morton, Earl Williams, Bake McBride

  • On the other hand, there are several RoYs whose names you know and who had solid, distinguished careers…but who aren’t Hall of Famers:
  • National League: Richie Allen, Rick Sutcliffe, Benito Santiago, David Justice
  • American League: Nomar Garciaparra, Lou Pinella, Tony Oliva, Fred Lynn

  • Then there’s the best of the best.

    Maybe one of the greatest achievements is for a Major League Baseball player to achieve Rookie of the Year, have a long career and reach the Hall of Fame.

    Here are the Rookies of the Year names that every baseball fan would recognize, for their abilities on the mound, in the field or at the plate, and for the joy they brought to fans and the amazing careers they had.

    There’s really not much to say in the way of explanation of their achievements.

    As the saying goes, their fame preceded them.

    National League Rookies of the Year in the Hall of Fame

    Jackie Robinson, RoY 1947. Robinson did more than break baseball’s color barrier in 1947, the year he was Rookie of the Year. He made the All-Star team six consecutive years (’49–’54) and was the NL MVP in 1949…becoming the first African-American to be named MVP. He was also the first player to be named Rookie of the Year. The award is now named after him.

    Willie Mays, RoY 1951. Mays was named NL MVP twice in his career and hit 660 home runs. An incredible center fielder, he won 12 Gold Glove Awards beginning in 1957…the first year of the award.

    Orlando Cepeda, RoY 1958. Cepeda hit at least .300 nine times in his 14 seasons. In 1999, he was elected by the Hall’s Veterans Committee, joining Roberto Clemente as the only Puerto Ricans in Cooperstown.

    Frank Robinson, RoY 1956. Robinson is the only player to win MVP honors in both the National and American leagues. He was a Triple Crown winner in 1966 and a two-time World Series winner. His 586 home runs rank him 10th all time.

    Willie McCovey, RoY 1959. McCovey was called “the scariest hitter in baseball” by pitcher Bob Gibson. McCovey’s vicious uppercut swing launched 521 home runs. He led the National League in home runs three times (hitting 45 in 1969) and was the MVP that same year.

    Billy Williams, RoY 1961. Williams was a National League All-Star for six seasons with the Cubs. He hit 426 home runs, belting out 30 or more five times. He batted over .300 in five seasons and drove in 100 RBI three times.

    Tom Seaver, RoY 1967. Considered one of the best starting pitchers ever, over a 20-season career, Seaver won 311 games—with 3,640 strikeouts, 61 shutouts and a lifetime ERA of 2.86. He earned three NL Cy Young Awards as the league’s best pitcher and is still the Mets’ all-time leader in wins (198).

    Johnny Bench, RoY 1968. Bench had 2,048 hits, 389 home runs and 1,376 RBI over an impressive 17-year Major League career with the Reds. He was a 14-time All-Star, a two-time MVP and earned 10 Gold Glove Awards. Bench has more grand slams (10) than any other catcher in MLB history.

    Andre Dawson, RoY 1977. Dawson was an eight-time NL All-Star and was the NL MVP in 1987 with 49 homers and 137 RBI. (He was the runner-up MVP in ’81 and ’83.) He batted .300 five times, had 100 RBI four times and hit at least 20 home runs in 13 seasons.

    Mike Piazza, RoY 1993. Piazza is considered one of the best-hitting catchers in MLB history. He had a lifetime average of .308 with 427 home runs and 2,127 hits. He was an All-Star his rookie year and for the next nine consecutive seasons.

    American League Rookies of the Year in the Hall of Fame

    Rod Carew, RoY 1967. Carew made the All-Star team every season except his final one. He was an amazing contact hitter and led the league in hits three times and in batting average seven times, reaching .388 in 1977.

    Carlton Fisk, RoY 1972. Fisk was behind the plate for 24 years, more than any other player. He was voted to the All-Star team 11 times. At one time Fisk had the most career home runs by a catcher and most games caught, records later broken by Mike Piazza and Iván Rodríguez, respectively, both Hall of Famers.

    Eddie Murray, RoY 1977. Murray finished in the top 10 in MVP voting several times, and he is the only switch-hitter in history to reach more than 500 home runs (504) and 3,000 hits (3,255). He hit more than 25 homers per season 12 times.

    Cal Ripken, RoY 1982. Ripken holds the record for consecutive games played—2,632—but that’s not why he’s in the Hall: He ended his career with 3,184 hits, 431 home runs and 1,695 RBI. He was a 19-time All-Star and a two-time MVP.

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