Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times

By Zane Miller

10. Jerome Walton (1989)

Walton claimed the RotY award in 1989 while a member of the Chicago Cubs, thanks to a season which saw him hit five home runs, 46 RBIs and 139 hits in 116 games played. However, Walton would never reach those heights for the remainder of his career, spent mostly with the Cubs, as he retired in 1998 with a total of 25 home runs, 132 RBIs and 423 hits in 598 games.

9. Steve Howe (1980)

Howe took the 1980 RotY award with the Los Angeles Dodgers, pitching his way to seven wins, 17 saves and 39 strikeouts in 84.2 innings pitched for a 2.66 ERA. Howe continued to be a solid reliever throughout his career, spent mostly with the Dodgers and New York Yankees, though he missed three seasons after receiving a lifetime suspension due to substance abuse, which was later overturned. Howe scored a World Series ring with the Dodgers in 1981, before eventually retiring in 1996 with 47 career wins and 91 saves, 328 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.03 in 606 innings pitched.

8. Chris Sabo (1988)

Sabo grabbed the RotY crown in 1988 with the Cincinnati Reds, hitting 11 home runs, 44 RBIs and 146 hits in 137 games. Sabo played nearly all of his MLB career with the Reds, most notably helping the team to the 1990 World Series title. Sabo became a solid fixture with Cincinnati, getting a total of 116 home runs, 426 RBIs and 898 hits in 911 games played prior to his 1996 retirement. In 2010, Sabo was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.

7. Vince Coleman (1985)

Coleman captured RotY honors in 1985 with the St. Louis Cardinals, hitting one home run, 40 RBIs and 170 hits in 151 games, while also leading the league in stolen bases. Coleman spent the majority of his career with the Cardinals, as he ended up with 28 home runs, 346 RBIs and 1,425 hits in 1,371 games played, while also leading MLB in stolen bases three more times prior to his 1997 retirement. In 2018, Coleman was elected into the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame.

6. Todd Worrell (1986)

Worrell earned the RotY trophy in 1986 while also a member of the Cardinals, as he captured an NL-leading 36 saves along with nine wins, 73 strikeouts and an impressive 2.08 ERA in 103.2 innings pitched to also claim the NL Relief Man Award. Despite missing two seasons due to injury, Worrell solidified himself as an incredible closer with both the Cardinals and Dodgers, as his Los Angeles tenure saw him finish top-five in voting for the Cy Young Award in 1996 thanks to a league-best 44 saves to go along with four wins, 66 strikeouts and a 3.03 ERA in 65.1 innings. Retiring after the 1997 campaign, Worrell ended with a total of 256 saves and 50 wins, 628 strikeouts and a 3.09 career ERA in 693.2 inning pitched.

5. Benito Santiago (1987)

Photo Credit: San Diego Padres

Santiago scored RotY in 1987 with the San Diego Padres, nabbing 18 home runs, 79 RBIs and 164 hits in 146 games. Playing for nearly 20 years at the MLB level, Santiago spent the majority of his career with the Padres while also having a significant number of games played with the San Francisco Giants and Florida (now Miami) Marlins, hitting 217 career homers, 920 RBIs and 1,830 hits in 1,978 games played before retiring in 2005. In 2015, Santiago was inducted into the San Diego Padres Hall of Fame.

4. Steve Sax (1982)

Photo Credit: Sportscasting

One of the few players in MLB history to earn a championship before starting their official rookie campaign, Sax captured the World Series title in 1981 with the Dodgers, despite playing in only 31 games during the season. In his official rookie season with the team, Sax proved it was no fluke as he hit four home runs, 47 RBIs and 180 hits in 150 games on his way to winning Rookie of the Year. Playing most of his career in Los Angeles, Sax contributed a total of 54 home runs, 550 RBIs and 1,949 hits in 1,769 games played before retiring after the 1994 season, winning another World Series in the process with the Dodgers in 1988.

3. Darryl Strawberry (1983)

Photo Credit: Pinstripe Alley

Strawberry made his presence known after being drafted first overall by the New York Mets, taking home RotY in 1983 with the team thanks to an impressive 26 home runs, 74 RBIs and 108 hits in 122 games played. However, Strawberry was far from done there, with his best statistical season of 1988 seeing him smack an NL-best 39 home runs with 101 RBIs and 146 hits in 153 games to finish runner-up in MVP voting. In his final season with the Mets in 1990, Strawberry also grabbed a top-three finish, though his upcoming tenure with the Yankees saw him earn two more World Series titles in 1996 and 1999 to go along with his 1986 World Series ring while on the Mets. Strawberry retired after that 1999 championship season, taking a total of 335 home runs, exactly 1,000 RBIs and 1,401 hits in 1,583 games played, leading to his 2010 induction into the New York Mets Hall of Fame.

2. Fernando Valenzuela (1981)

Photo Credit: Jim Accordino - Wikipedia

Valenzuela captured the RotY title with the Dodgers in 1981, dominating the league with an MLB-best 180 strikeouts to go along with 13 wins in 192.1 innings pitched for an outstanding 2.48 ERA to not only take Rookie of the Year, but claim the NL Cy Young Award and a top-five MVP finish as well. Valenzuela continued his dominant run throughout the 1980s with the Dodgers, including a runner-up Cy Young finish in 1986 and a third-place result in 1982, while also finishing off his 1981 campaign with a World Series title. Valenzuela retired after the 1997 season with 173 career wins, 2,074 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.54 in 2,930 total innings. In 2014, Valenzuela was inducted into the Mexican Professional Baseball Hall of Fame, with the Dodgers officially retiring his #34 jersey in 2023.

1. Dwight Gooden (1984)

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Gooden won the 1984 RotY award with the Mets, as he maintained a league-leading 276 strikeouts with 17 victories for a spectacular 2.60 ERA in 218 innings pitched to also finish second in the NL Cy Young race. He would complete the quest for the award in 1985, scoring a league-best 24 wins, 268 strikeouts and 1.53 ERA in one of the most dominant pitching seasons in MLB history, while also leading the NL in innings pitched with 276.2 to top it all off. Gooden kept his reputation as one of the most feared pitchers in the league throughout his Mets tenure, winning the World Series with the club in 1986 before taking a second World Series ring with the crosstown rival Yankees in 2000. Like his former teammate Strawberry, Gooden went out on top as he retired following the Yankees’ World Series run, finishing out his impressive career with 194 wins, 2,293 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.51 in just over 2,800 innings pitched. Gooden also joined Strawberry in the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 2010.