NEW YORK (AP) — Big expectations followed Kris Bryant and Carlos Correa from the moment each was drafted just a few years ago.
It didn’t take long for both to deliver.
Bryant was a unanimous pick as NL Rookie of the Year on Monday, and Correa took the American League prize in a close vote by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Correa explained on a conference call from his home in Puerto Rico, where he said thousands of proud supporters were waiting to celebrate with him. “It really means a lot not only for them, but me as well.”
The surprise top pick in the 2012 amateur draft, Correa recalled how some questioned whether he warranted that selection. But by June this year, he was starting at shortstop in the majors and leading the young Houston Astros toward the playoffs.
Bryant, chosen second overall by the Chicago Cubs in 2013, made his big league debut on April 17. The third baseman quickly became an All-Star on a rising team that also reached the postseason.
“I think we’re in very similar situations in that we’re surrounded by a lot of young guys,” Bryant said. “I think the only expectations that really matter are the ones you put on yourself. I definitely exceeded my own expectations.”
The 23-year-old Bryant batted .275 and led big league rookies with 26 homers, 31 doubles and 99 RBIs as Chicago returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Seeking their first championship since 1908, the Cubs were swept by the New York Mets in the NLCS.
“I think there is a way to top this year and that’s to win the World Series,” Bryant said. “I think heading into next year this whole experience is going to help myself and our whole team in general.”
Bryant received all 30 first-place votes for 150 points in balloting by the BBWAA. San Francisco third baseman Matt Duffy was second with 70 points, and Pittsburgh infielder Jung Ho Kang third with 28 points.
Correa received 17 firsts and 13 seconds for 124 points. Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor was second with 13 firsts, 14 seconds and two thirds for 109 points, and Minnesota designated hitter Miguel Sano was third with 20 points.
Correa began this year in Double-A and made his major league debut June 8. He hit .279 with 22 homers, 68 RBIs and 14 steals, helping the Astros make their first postseason appearance in a decade. The youngest position player in the major leagues, he turned 21 in September.
“It’s like a season that I only thought was going to happen in a dream,” said Correa, who acknowledged the metal plate in his right leg caused him pain much of the year.
Correa’s 2014 season with Class A Lancaster was cut short in June because of a broken right ankle.
Houston’s only previous Rookie of the Year was Jeff Bagwell, who won the 1991 NL honor. Bryant is the Cubs’ sixth winner and first since catcher Geovany Soto in 2008.
Bryant and Correa each had the $507,500 minimum salary in the majors.
Houston gave Correa his debut after making sure he won’t be eligible for arbitration until following the 2018 season.
Bryant was left in the minors at the start of the season despite showing off his prodigious power during an outstanding spring training. Chicago brought up Bryant after waiting just long enough to ensure he cannot become a free agent until after the 2021 season.
“I think I played with a little bit of a chip on my shoulder this year, and I think it’s good to play that way sometimes,” Bryant said. “In high school I kind of got labeled like I didn’t really care about playing just because I was so relaxed out there, but that couldn’t be any further from the truth.”
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