This is the start of a series in which we’ll examine how Rookie of the Year winners panned out from various decades. Let’s begin with the National League from 2000-09…
2000 – Rafael Furcal, SS, Braves:
- Furcal won the award with ease that year, when he batted .295/.394/.382 with 3.3 fWAR, almost as many walks (73) as strikeouts (80), and 40 stolen bases. But was he a one-shot wonder? Nope. Furcal, whose final season came in 2014, wrapped things up as a .281/.346/.402 hitter with 113 homers, 314 steals, three All-Star bids and 33.1 fWAR. Aside from the Braves, he spent MLB time with the Dodgers, Cardinals and Marlins, winning a World Series championship with St. Louis in 2011.
2001 – Albert Pujols, 1B/3B/OF, Cardinals:
- The birth of a legend. Pujols totaled 7.2 fWAR that year on the strength of a .329/.403/.610 line with 37 home runs, and he missed just one game in the process. Now a member of the Angels, he can be counted as one of the greatest players ever – a 10-time All-Star, a three-time NL MVP, a two-time World Series winner and a 656-home run man.
2002 – Jason Jennings, RHP, Rockies:
- It’s tough to win any kind of award as a pitcher in hitter-friendly Colorado, but Jennings pulled it off in his first full season, in which he amassed 185 1/3 innings of 4.52 ERA pitching with 2.1 fWAR. Jennings had a couple more solid seasons, but his career didn’t last nearly as long as of those of Furcal and Pujols. From 2001-09 as a member of the Rox, Astros and Rangers, Jennings posted a 4.95 ERA with 12.2 fWAR over 1,128 1/3 frames.
2003 – Dontrelle Willis, LHP, Marlins:
- The D-Train will always be one of the most recognizable hurlers in Marlins history. During a 2003 rookie campaign, he piled up 160 2/3 innings of 3.30 ERA ball to help the Marlins to their most recent playoff berth. Willis had some rough outings that postseason, but he made up for those performances with 3 2/3 scoreless innings versus the Yankees in a World Series that the Marlins won in six. Before that, Willis – a very good offensive player for his position – collected three hits, including a triple, in as many at-bats against the Giants in the NLDS. Willis’ star faded after a few terrific years, but he exited following 2011 as a two-time All-Star and the owner of a 4.17 ERA across 1,221 2/3 innings as a Marlin, Tiger, Diamondback and Red. He was also part of the earth-shattering trade that sent Miguel Cabrera from Florida to Detroit in 2007.
2004 – Jason Bay, OF, Pirates:
- Bay was a formidable offensive player that season, when he batted .282/.358/.550 with 26 homers in 472 plate appearances. That proved to be the first of many standout campaigns at the plate for Bay, a lifetime .266/.360/.481 hitter who accumulated 222 HRs with the Padres, Pirates, Red Sox, Mets and Mariners through 2012. Bay was a three-time All-Star whom the Mets inked to a four-year, $66MM contract before 2009, though his production nosedived after he earned that payday.
2005 – Ryan Howard, 1B, Phillies:
- Howard smacked 22 dingers in just 88 games as a rookie, and he wound up a 382-HR hitter who batted .258/.343/.515 from 2004-16 – all of which he spent with the Phillies. Howard picked up three All-Star nods, won a World Series and took home an NL MVP along the way.
2006 – Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins:
- This was the start of an eventful career for Ramirez, who slashed .292/.353/.480 with 17 HRs and a whopping 51 steals as a rookie. Ramirez mostly continued to thrive in Miami until the team dealt him to the Dodgers in 2012. After a successful stint in LA, Ramirez signed a four-year, $88MM pact with the Red Sox before 2015. That marriage didn’t work out, though, nor did Ramirez’s short run with the Indians in 2019. It’s possible we haven’t seen the last of the 36-year-old, but if we have, he had an excellent career. Also a former first baseman, third baseman and outfielder, HanRam’s a .289/.360/.484 hitter with 271 homers, 281 steals and 41.5 fWAR.
2007 – Ryan Braun, 3B, Brewers:
- Then a third baseman and now an outfielder, Braun batted an eye-popping .324/.370/.634 with 34 homers and 15 steals as a rookie. That was the first of many highly productive seasons for Braun, a six-time All-Star and a one-tme NL MVP who has registered a career line of .298/.360/.533 with 344 HRs, 215 stolen bases and 43.7 fWAR. While he’s now 36 and on the downside of his career, Braun’s still a solid member of the Brewers’ offense.
2008 – Geovany Soto, C, Cubs:
- Soto starred at the plate in 2008, when he batted .285/.364/.504 and smacked 23 homers to get the NL ROY and his lone All-Star nod. But Soto’s career, some of which he also spent with the Rangers, A’s, White Sox and Angels, was pretty up and down into his final season in 2017. Soto was better than most who have set foot in the majors, however, as he hit .245/.330/.435 with 108 HRs and 16.4 fWAR.
2009 – Chris Coghlan, OF, Marlins:
- The third former Marlin on this list, Coghlan was a .321/.390/.460 hitter during his initial year, though he rarely reached those heights again. Coghlan became a utilityman and ended up playing for four other teams (the Cubs, Phillies, A’s and Blue Jays) through 2017. He batted a respectable .258/.334/.398 with 53 HRs and 47 SBs in the bigs.