After reviewing the careers of 1990s National League Rookies of the Year, let’s move over to the AL…
1990 – Sandy Alomar Jr., C, Indians:
- Kevin Appier, John Olerud and Robin Ventura were among the rookies Alomar beat out for the award that year. While those players had better careers than Alomar, he did turn in a few solid seasons, including in 1990. He was a .290/.326/.418 hitter with 2.4 fWAR then. He wound up playing through 2007 and totaling 13.2 fWAR in almost 5,000 plate appearances.
1991 – Chuck Knoblauch, 2B, Twins:
- The rookie version of Knoblauch was a capable contributor on a Twins team that won the World Series in 1991, when he batted .281/.351/.350 with 2.2 fWAR and 25 steals during the regular season and put up even better offensive numbers in the playoffs. Knoblauch made his first of four All-Star trips the next season, but he really came into his own from 1995-97. During that three-year span, Knoblauch trailed only Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza in position player fWAR (20.6). Nevertheless, after the last of those seasons, the Twins traded him to the Yankees for Eric Milton, Danny Mota and Brian Buchanan. Knoblauch was a member of three World Series winners and four straight AL pennant teams as a Yankee, though his overall production fell and he developed an awful case of the yips as a second baseman. His defensive troubles forced him to move to the outfield for the tail end of his career – which came to a close with the Royals in 2002. Still, Knoblauch was quite successful in the bigs, where he slashed .289/.378/.406 with 39.8 fWAR.
1992 – Pat Listach, SS, Brewers:
Listach beat out fellow speedster Kenny Lofton for this award, hitting .290/.352/.349 with one homer, 54 steals and 3.4 fWAR. But Lofton ended up a far superior big leaguer to Listach, who only played through 1997. Also an ex-Astro, Listach batted .251/.316/.309 with 1.5 fWAR.
1993 – Tim Salmon, OF, Angels:
- This was the first of five 30-home run seasons for Salmon, who put up 31 en route to 4.7 fWAR. For the most part, Salmon was an excellent offensive player during his career – all of which he spent with the Angels from 1992-2006 – evidenced by his .282/.385/.491 line and 299 HRs. He put up 35.4 fWAR along the way and is considered one of the top players in franchise history. However, with Mike Trout now in the fold, Salmon’s no longer the best Angel with a fish for a last name.
1994 – Bob Hamelin, 1B, Royals:
- Hamelin upended eventual greats Manny Ramirez and Jim Edmonds in the voting that season, but it was hardly the start of a storied career. While Hamelin hit .282/.388/.599 with 24 homers and 2.4 fWAR as a rookie, he never reached the 20 mark again through his last season in 1998, and he was a replacement-level player (0.0. fWAR) after his first year. But he’ll always have this, arguably the worst baseball card ever.
1995 – Marty Cordova, OF, Twins:
- Cordova had a few productive campaigns from 1995-2003, but Year 1 was his best. He debuted with a .277/.352/.486 line, 24 homers, 20 steals and 3.6 fWAR. He ultimately finished his career a .274/.344/.448 hitter with 122 dingers, 57 stolen bases and 6.5 fWAR.
1996 – Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees:
- Never heard of him. Seriously, though, 24 years after winning AL ROY, Jeter can be considered one of the most recognizable athletes in history. He went on to a Hall of Fame career, all of which he spent from 1995-2014 with the Yankees (who retired his number), with 14 All-Star nods and five titles. The Captain was a .310/.377/.440 hitter with 260 homers, 358 steals and 73.0 fWAR. As a first-year man, Jeter batted .314/.370/.430, totaling 10 HRs, 14 SBs and 2.2 fWAR.
1997 – Nomar Garciaparra, SS, Red Sox:
- A year after the Red Sox saw an archrival Yankee win the award, they found a shortstop capable of going to to toe with Jeter. Garciappara’s greatest four-year stretch spanned from his rookie season through 2000, during which Jeff Bagwell and Barry Bonds were the only position players to outdo his 27.5 fWAR. A good portion of that (6.4) came during Garciaparra’s first year, when he slashed .306/.342/.534 with 30 homers and 22 steals. Unfortunately, peak Garciaparra didn’t last nearly as long as he should have because of injuries. But he did still manage extremely effective overall production (.313/.361/.521; 229 HRs, 95 SBs; 41.5 fWAR; six All-Star appearances) before his career ended in 2009.
1998 – Ben Grieve, OF, Athletics:
- Grieve was a good hitter throughout his career, which ended in 2005, though never more productive than he was a rookie. He hit .288/.386/.458 with 18 HRs that season. Four years later, the A’s sent Grieve to the then-Devil Rays as part of a trade for Johnny Damon. However, Grieve didn’t provide a ton of value in Tampa Bay. He left the game as a .269/.367/.442 hitter with 118 homers and 6.7 fWAR.
1999 – Carlos Beltran, OF, Royals:
- The start of a Hall of Fame career? Depends on how you view Beltran in light of his sign-stealing issues with the Astros and his fleeting stint as the Mets’ manager. In terms of production, though, he has a strong case, and it all began during a ’99 campaign in which he slashed .293/.337/.454, went 20/20 (22 HRs, 27 SBs) and accrued 4.3 fWAR. Beltran went on to account for 67.9 fWAR as a member of several different teams through 2017, bat .279/.350/.486 with 435 homers and 312 steals, and earn nine All-Star trips.