Aoki runs fifth in NL Rookie of the Year vote

Brewers outfielder Norichika Aoki finished fifth in National League Rookie of the Year balloting on Monday, a ceremonial end to a successful first season in the U.S. Major Leagues.

The award, as voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America, went to Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, the brash 19-year-old who burst onto the big league scene in 2012 and became the second-youngest Rookie of the Year in NL history to Dwight Gooden.

Harper garnered 16 of the 32 first-place votes and finished with 112 points to top D-backs pitcher Wade Miley, who had 12 first-place votes and 105 points. The Reds’ Todd Frazier was third and the Rockies’ Wilin Rosario finished fourth.

Harper led NL rookies in runs (98), total bases (254), triples (9), extra-base hits (57), multi-hit games (45) and outfield assists (8), but Aoki held his own against the Washington phenom and the rest of the NL rookie field. Aoki led NL rookies in stolen bases (30), tied the Padres’ Yonder Alonso for the NL rookie lead in hits (150) and ranked second in runs (81), doubles (37), total bases (225) and on-base percentage (.355). He became the first NL rookie since the Cardinals’ Bake McBride (1974) to have four hitting streaks of at least 10 games in a season. Aoki had streaks of 15, 13, 12 and 10 games.

“It was my first experience over here, so there were some tough times,” Aoki said before heading home for the winter. “But overall, I had a great time.”

Aoki’s finish was the best by a Japanese-born rookie position player since Mariners catcher Kenji Johjima was fourth in the 2006 vote. In all, seven players from Japan have finished in the top 10 in Major League Basbeall’s rookie of the year races, including Ichiro Suzuki, the only Japanese hitter to win the award, in 2001. Ichiro also won the American League MVP Award that season. Before Aoki, the last Japanese position player to finish in the top 10 of his league’s Rookie of the Year race was Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukudome, who was sixth in the NL in 2008.

Japanese pitchers have had more rookie success in the U.S. Nine of them have finished in the top 10 in MLB’s rookie races, including 2012 AL third-place finisher Yu Darvish of the Rangers.


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