There was a point this summer when Danny Espinosa looked like the clear-cut favorite to win National League Rookie of the Year honors. But a second-half tailspin at the plate wound up costing the Nationals second baseman a shot at the Jackie Robinson Award and nearly left him off the final ballot altogether.
Espinosa wound up finishing sixth in voting conducted at the end of the regular season and announced today by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Teammate Wilson Ramos, who enjoyed a strong rookie campaign himself, finished fourth.
Braves closer Craig Kimbrel (who led the league with 46 saves and 64 games finished) won the award, receiving all 32 possible first-place votes. His Atlanta teammate, first baseman Freddie Freeman, earned runner-up honors, after hitting .282 with 21 homers, 76 RBI and leading all NL rookies in hits, doubles and total bases.
Right-hander Vance Worley, who went 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA for the NL East champion Phillies, ranked third.
Espinosa put up some impressive numbers in his first full season in the majors, matching Freeman's 21 homers and leading all NL rookies with 72 runs scored and 55 extra-base hits. But his .236 batting average ultimately cost him the award, not to mention a second-half slump that saw him hit only five homers after the All-Star break.
In the end, though, that was good enough for only one second-place vote among the 32 writers (two from each NL city) who filled out this year's ballot.
Ramos also received one second-place vote (from the Houston Chronicle's Zachary Levine), along with three third-place votes, to finish fourth overall. The 24-year-old catcher was a steadier hitter at the plate than Espinosa, winding up with a .267 average, 15 homers and 52 RBI.
Here are the full results of the NL vote...
PLAYER, TEAM 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTALCraig Kimbrel, ATL 32 160Freddie Freeman, ATL 21 7 70Vance Worley, PHI 8 16 40Wilson Ramos, WASH 1 3 6Josh Collmenter, AZ 1 2 5Danny Espinosa, WASH 1 3Darwin Barney, CHC 2 2Kenley Jansen, LAD 2 2Five points awarded for 1st-place vote, three points for 2nd-place vote, one point for third-place vote.