Longoria, Soto favored to nab Rookie of Year awards

(Sports Network) - The Baseball Writers' Association of America will hand out their first two postseason honors on Monday, as the American and National League Rookies of the Year will be announced.

Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria figures to be the runaway winner in the American League, while Chicago Cubs catcher Geovany Soto should also easily walk away with the award in the Senior Circuit.

Longoria helped guide the Rays to not only their first-ever winning season, but their first AL East title en route to a trip to the World Series, where they lost in five games to the Philadelphia Phillies.

The 23-year-old third baseman, despite starting the season in the minors, was selected to the All-Star Game and finished the year with impressive numbers for any major leaguer, let alone a rookie. In just 122 games, Longoria belted 27 homers, drove in 85 runs and scored 67.

Longoria, the third overall pick of the Rays in 2006, will also garner some AL MVP votes next week. However, a broken wrist in early August cost him a little over a month, likely eliminating his chance to join Fred Lynn (1975) and Ichiro Suzuki (2001) as the only players to win a Rookie of the Year and an MVP Award in the same season.

Tampa Bay has never had a Rookie of the Year award winner.

Other players who will nab some votes include Kansas City shortstop Mike Aviles and Chicago White Sox infielder Alexei Ramirez. Longoria, though, could be the AL's first unanimous selection since Nomar Garciaparra in 1997.

Soto, meanwhile, will be trying to become the fifth Cub to win the award and the first since Kerry Wood in 1998. The 25-year-old backstop, who became the first rookie catcher to start an All-Star Game. batted 285 with 23 homers, 35 doubles and led all rookies with 86 RBI - one more than Longoria.

The Cubs, who won the National League Central for the second straight year, compiled the third-lowest ERA in the league with the young Soto behind the plate.

Should Soto win the award, he would be the first NL catcher to do so since Mike Piazza did it for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1993. His 21 homers were also the most by a rookie catcher since Piazza's 35, 15 years ago

Other Cubs to win the award include Billy Williams (1961), Ken Hubbs (1962) and Jerome Walton (1989). Soto is the first Cubs rookie to hit as many as 21 home runs since Williams belted 25 in 1961.

Soto's main competition is expected to come from Atlanta righty Jair Jurrjens and Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto.

Boston's Dustin Pedroia and Milwaukee's Ryan Braun won the awards last season.

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