At the end of each season baseball awards the Rookie of the Year to one player in the American League and one player in the National League. Any position can qualify and many times both players from their respective year go on to have very good careers. Since the year 2000, these are the best combinations from the AL and NL who won the award together.
2001 – Ichiro Suzuki and Albert Pujols
Way back in 2001 two future Hall of Famers made their mark on baseball. For the Seattle Mariners, an outfielder from Japan named Ichiro Suzuki came to the United States to make his major league debut. Over in St. Louis for the Cardinals it was Albert Pujols who made a name for himself.
In his rookie season Ichiro led the league in hits, stolen bases, and batting average. Not only did he win the AL Rookie of the Year, he also won the MVP award. Pujols didn’t lead any league category his rookie season, but still had a more than respectable 37 home runs, 130 RBIs, and .329 batting average. In their careers these two men have combined for four total MVP Awards among many other honors.
2006 – Justin Verlander and Hanley Ramirez
The 2006 season saw the debut of a new dominant pitcher and a talented all-around player at the shortstop position. Justin Verlander got the call to pitch in the Detroit Tigers’ rotation and Hanley Ramirez earned the chance to become the starting shortstop for the Florida Marlins after getting traded there by Boston in the offseason.
Verlander won 17 games in his rookie campaign. He would only get better, most notably his 2011 season where he was 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA. Verlander won the Cy Young and MVP Award that year. Ramirez has yet to win an MVP Award, but he has had a productive career nonetheless. Coming off an injury in 2013 where he played in about half of the games for his new team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Ramirez hit .345 with 20 home runs. A full season of this in 2014 could spell trouble for the rest of the National League.
2007 – Dustin Pedroia and Ryan Braun
The always scrappy Dustin Pedroia along with the now controversial Ryan Braun both won Rookie of the Year honors in 2007. Pedroia did this with a high batting average and on-base percentage. Braun won his trophy by hitting 34 home runs and knocking in 97 runs in only 113 games.
A year later Pedroia won the MVP Award when he led the league in runs, hits, and doubles. Braun was consistently near the top in MVP voting through the years, winning his first in 2011. Unfortunately for Braun his reputation may be ruined by his suspension in 2013.
2012 – Mike Trout and Bryce Harper
The story on these two young talents has barely been written. The 2012 season had two talented outfielders whom many predict to be all-time greats win the Rookie of the Year Award. These two men are Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels and Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals.
Trout’s rookie season was a year anyone could be proud of. He led the league in runs and stolen bases. Add to it his 30 home runs and 83 RBIs, Trout has already become a five-tool player. In each of his first two seasons he has finished second in MVP voting behind Miguel Cabrera. Harper’s numbers in his first MLB season, and probably throughout his career, are not nearly as impressive as the ones Trout has. Harper’s superpower is the way he plays the game. The little clutch things he does is what makes him a tremendous player. When the Washington Nationals win their first World Series it will be Harper’s attitude that helps more than anything else.