It’s Not Too Early To Judge Potential Rookie of the Year Candidates For 2018

As everyone had expected, the selections for the 2017 Rookie of the Awards were both unanimous. They were the first pair to get every vote in the same season since 1997, when Scott Rolen of the Philadelphia Phillies won it in the National League and Ichiro Suzuki took the honor in the American.Outfielder Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees, who was also a finalist for the Most Valuable Player Award, received the selection in the A.L. The first baseman for the pennant winning Los Angeles Dodgers, Cody Bellinger, won easily in the Senior Circuit.Since the discussion around baseball has been centered around this first of the major awards, it seems appropriate to forecast the possible winners of the Rookie of the Year Awards next season. Because of the late season call ups in August and September, baseball fans were provided a glimpse of several of the prospects who should be in contention for the honor in November of 2018.One obvious candidate is Ozzie Albies, the second baseman of the Atlanta Braves. Albies gained some experience with 217 at bats after coming up to the big leagues on August 1, batting .286 with six home runs and eight stolen bases. His performance certainly provided justification for Atlanta’s front office shipping veteran All-Star and Gold Glove winner Brandon Phillips to the Los Angeles Angels late in the season.Folks in New York, who had the honor of witnessing Aaron Judge’s record 53 home rus as a rookie with the Yankees, might get to see a similar outstanding performance by a rookie next year. Dominic Smith is going to be the first baseman for the Mets, after a stellar minor league stint that earned him a late season call up. Smith, a first round pick in 2013, slugged nine home runs in just 167 at bats after becoming a regular starter in early August.Amazingly, Smith’s power output was not even the best among the first basemen who were called up late in the season. Rhys Hoskins of the Philadelphia Phillies outslugged his rival youngster in New York.After making his Major League debut in August, Hoskins went on a power tear. He averaged a home run every nine times up, hitting eighteen dingers in 170 trips to the plate.In the American League, the preseason favorite for Rookie of the Year in 2018 has to be Yoan Moncada of the Chicago White Sox. The second baseman was the key piece in the trade that sent Chris Sale to Boston just before the start of the 2017 season, but he spent the first three quarters of 2017 in the minor leagues. After his much anticipated September call up Moncada hit only .231, but he did show power by slugging eight home runs in just 199 at bats.Perhaps the most likely Rookie of the Year has not yet even played a single game in major league baseball. Shohei Ohtani, a veteran who has enjoyed an All-Star career in Japan, has stated that he wants to play in America next season. More than a dozen clubs have already shown interest in Ohtani who, in spite of his advanced age, would still be considered of rookie status according to MLB standards.Not only is his future team to be determined, but so is his position. You see, Ohtani has expressed a desire to play as both a pitcher and a hitter. His performance in Japan have shown he might just have the talent to take on that unusual dual role, making him an intriguing story heading into the 2018 season.