American League Rookies of the Year—1980s
As I currently write this, the Mitchell Report is the only news in baseball other than a few random trades and signings. It's even been two months since the big awards were announced. So it's a fun time to look back at who won what awards in decades past, including this list of American League Rookies of the Year in the 1980s.
1989-Gregg Olson, Baltimore Orioles
In the late eighties and early nineties, Gregg Olson was one of the game's top relief pitchers, and it happened in a hurry. In Olson's rookie year of 1989, his first full season in the majors, he notched 27 saves while going 5-2 with a 1.69 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 85 innings of work on his way to the AL Rookie of the Year Award. Olson battled injuries for a few years before becoming a dominant closer again in 1998 with Arizona.
1988-Walt Weiss, Oakland Athletics
There wasn't a lot of competition for AL Rookie of the Year honors in 1988, but shortstop Walt Weiss of Oakland took home the award, and became the third straight Oakland player to do so. Weiss hit .250 with 17 doubles, 3 homers, 39 RBI, and posted a .979 fielding percentage.
1987-Mark McGwire, Oakland Athletics
With all 28 first-place votes, Mark McGwire became the second straight Oakland player to win the AL Rookie of the Year Award. McGwire would go on to become one of the game's all-time great home run hitters, but in 1987 he kicked things off by batting .289 with 49 homers and 118 runs batted in. McGwire added 28 doubles and posted a slugging percentage of .618.
1986-Jose Canseco, Oakland Athletics
In a close vote over California's Wally Joyner, Oakland outfielder Jose Canseco won the AL Rookie of the Year honors in 1986, becoming the first of three Athletics to do so. Canseco began his fine career that year with a .240 average, but belted 33 home runs with 117 RBI, adding 29 doubles and 15 stolen bases.
1985-Ozzie Guillen, Chicago White Sox
Before Ozzie Guillen became a volatile and successful manager in the big leagues, he was one of the game's best shortstops. In 1985, Guillen won the AL Rookie of the Year Award by hitting .273 with 134 hits, 71 runs, and 33 RBI. He also posted a .980 fielding percentage at one of the toughest positions on the diamond.
1984-Alvin Davis, Seattle Mariners
Seattle first baseman/DH Alvin Davis began his career with a bang, literally, in 1984 by winning the American League Rookie of the Year. Davis hit .284 with 27 home runs, 116 runs batted in, 34 doubles and a slugging percentage of .497. The 116 RBI wound up being a career high for Davis, who retired after the 1992 season.
1983-Ron Kittle, Chicago White Sox
Chicago's Ron Kittle took home the AL Rookie of the Year honors in 1983 by hitting 35 homers and 100 RBI, both career highs. He also hit .254 with 19 doubles, 8 stolen bases, and a slugging percentage of .504.
1982-Cal Ripken, Jr., Baltimore Orioles
In what became the start of a legendary career, Baltimore infielder Cal Ripken, Jr. kicked things off in 1982 by winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award. That season, Ripken batted .264 with 28 home runs, 93 runs batted in, and a .475 slugging percentage. He also committed only 19 errors for a fielding percentage of .972.
1981-Dave Righetti, New York Yankees
Yankees' pitcher Dave Righetti became known as a great closer, but he began his career as a starter. And in 1981, Righetti helped the Yankees reach the World Series in his first full season, taking home the AL Rookie of the Year Award. Righetti started 15 games, going 8-4 with a 2.05 ERA, and 89 strikeouts in 105 innings pitched.
1980-Joe Charboneau, Cleveland Indians
Though he only played for three seasons, Cleveland outfielder Joe Charboneau made them count by winning the AL Rookie of the Year honors in 1980. Charboneau batted .289 with 23 homers, 87 RBI, 17 doubles, and a slugging percentage of .488.