John Means’s bid to become the first Orioles player to win the Rookie of the Year award since Gregg Olson in 1989 has come up just short. He finished in second place to Houston’s Yordan Alvarez, so Means will have to settle for being the first Oriole to be the runner-up since Rodrigo Lopez in 2002.
With Alvarez racking up 27 home runs in only 87 games for a playoff-bound team, there wasn’t a whole lot of question about whether or not he would end up winning. The only real question was how close someone else, in this case Means, might be able to make it. Not very close, it turned out, since Alvarez received a first place vote on every ballot.
Means had the kind of season that might have been good enough for a ROY win in some past years. His surface-level basic stats like his 3.60 ERA and 12-11 record pitching for a team that lost 108 games with a horrible pitching staff are impressive, if not quite as impressive as Alvarez hitting all of those home runs.
A week ago, the BBWAA revealed the top 3 finishers for each of the awards, which is how we knew Means was getting at least some of his due for Rookie of the Year. Although they like to use the term “finalists,” there was not any additional voting after things were narrowed down to a top 3. The results have been the results since ballots were submitted prior to the postseason.
There are 30 votes for each award, with two ballots per league city. In smaller markets with less of a mainstream media presence, national writers sometimes fill in for some awards. Baltimore is occasionally such a market. That seems to have been the case for this award as well. One of the two Baltimore voters was MLB.com’s William Lloyd Ladson, with whose name I am not familiar even though I consume a lot of baseball media.
For Rookie of the Year, writers are limited to a three person ballot, with five points for a first place vote, three points for a second place vote, and one point for a third place vote. Means was in the top three of 21 of the 30 ballots, with 16 second place votes and five third place votes. Ladson’s ballot was one of the nine who left Means out. Means, with 53 points, was well ahead of Tampa’s Brandon Lowe, who had 27 points. Chicago’s Eloy Jimenez came in fourth with 20 points, with four others receiving a handful of votes.
Since Alvarez was the unanimous first place choice on all 30 ballots, it’s not like it really mattered to Means’s chances of winning that he was left out by a few of the voters.
Everybody who voted, in every city, with no exceptions, thought Alvarez’s 27 home runs and .313/.412/.655 batting line and 78 RBI in 87 games was the best performance by an American League rookie this year. Means can be proud of what he achieved this year anyway, and Orioles fans can still look forward to what’s to come for him. Congratulations on his second place finish. Maybe next year will be the O’s year to break the ROY streak.