Fans of Miguel Andujar, including this one, are still reeling at the robbery of the ROY Award in the American League. But the blame for the outcome is being wrongly assessed. Here’s why…
As I predicted back in September, Miguel Andujar was beaten out by Hollywood for the Rookie Of The Year (ROY) Award in the American League. The Golden Boy who plays aptly for the haloed Angels, Shohei Ohtani takes home the hardware, becoming the fourth Japanese player to capture the award.
This is not about the numbers, although it could be, and arguments are likely being waged from barstool to barstool as I write this. Let the numbers be, though, because there’s a bigger problem here.
Regretfully, it’s a problem that can only be corrected by Major League Baseball, and it will require a change in the eligibility rules to do so.
“In recent years, the award has been given to Japanese players who, while having no major league experience, played for many years in Nippon Professional Baseball. Hideo Nomo, Kazuhiro Sasaki, and Ichiro Suzuki had all played at least five years in Japan before transferring to major league clubs and subsequently won the award”. (Source: Baseball Reference)
Shohei Ohtani has been a star player in Japan for five years. Unlike Miguel Andujar, Ohtani has played in stadiums packed with 50,000 Japanese fans, many of whom bought tickets just to see him play. Ohtani played in the city of Hokkaido before coming to the United States, which has a population of 5.5 million. Miguel Andujar played in Scranton, Pennsylvania where 77,500 people live.
How can it be said that Shohei Ohtani is a rookie? Major League Baseball says he is, and at least for now, that’s that. Interestingly too, although hundreds of American ballplayers have taken their talents to Japan, not one of them has ever won a Rookie of the Year Award in Japan.
Before someone else points this out, and in the interest of fairness, the first winner of the ROY award, Jackie Robinson had played in the Negro Leagues for several years, as did five other winners of the National League’s award in subsequent seasons: Don Newcombe, Sam Jethroe, Willie Mays, Joe Black, and Jim Gilliam.
But also in fairness, can we all agree that those circumstances were far different than the ones revolving around Japanese players, and the issue existing today.
Left in the hands of Major League Baseball, rule changes are not likely to come about which would have eliminated Ohtani from consideration, making Miguel Andujar an easy winner over his teammate, Gleyber Torres, and whoever the third finalist might have been
Now guess why MLB might be resistant to changing anything. Time’s up, but if you guessed $hohei Ohtani and the almighty dollar, you are correct. MLB has a vested interest in Japanese baseball. Beyond that, the Nippon League has a vested interest in MLB, and always the twain shall meet.
The Japan Times, along with the entire country is in a state of bliss over Ohtani’s selection. A picture is worth 1,000 words? Look right as these girls fawning over the news.
Is there a chance MLB will want to mess with a 71-year old woman and fawning teenage girls? Nevertheless, they should.
Miguel Andujar will be fine. His talents will carry him to a successful career in the big leagues, and ten years from now, no one will notice the difference or care about what happened on Monday. Having said that, though, there will come a time when Miguel Andujar’s agent sits down across the table from the Yankees during an arbitration hearing.
Come that time, the absence of this piece of hardware resting on the table might well affect Andujar and his family personally. And that, my friends, is a damn shame.