Photo Credit: CBS Sports

By Zane Miller

10. Geovany Soto (2008)

Soto claimed RotY honors in 2008 with the Chicago Cubs, as he hit 23 home runs, 86 RBIs and 141 hits in 141 games played. Soto spent most of his career in a Cubs jersey, finishing his career after the 2017 season with 108 home runs, 361 RBIs and 619 hits in 797 career games.

9. Jason Jennings (2002)

Jennings captured the 2002 RotY award as a member of the Colorado Rockies, pitching his way to 16 wins and 127 strikeouts in 185.1 innings for an ERA of 4.52. Though Jennings would play the majority of his career with the Rockies, his time in the MLB would only last until the 2009 season as he ended his career with a total of 62 wins, 749 strikeouts and 1,128.1 innings pitched for a career ERA of 4.95.

8. Chris Coghlan (2009)

Coghlan took the RotY title in 2009 with the Florida (now Miami) Marlins, nabbing nine home runs, 47 RBIs and 162 hits in just 128 games played. Although Coghlan’s career would be relatively brief, he would make his mark on MLB history in 2016 by helping the Cubs to a World Series championship, thus breaking a 108-year long drought after joining the team as a midseason acquisition. Coghlan left the MLB after the 2017 season, with his career evenly split between the Marlins and Cubs as he got 53 career home runs, 234 RBIs and 666 hits in 801 career games.

7. Jason Bay (2004)

Bay scored the RotY trophy in 2004 while with the Pittsburgh Pirates, as he swatted 26 home runs, 82 RBIs and 116 hits in only 120 games. Bay spent the majority of his playing time in a Pirates uniform, getting a total of 222 home runs, 754 RBIs and 1,200 hits in 1,278 games played before announcing his retirement after the 2013 season. A British Columbia native, Bay was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019.

6. Hanley Ramirez (2006)

One of the more underrated hitters from recent years, Ramirez took RotY honors in 2006 with the Florida (now Miami) Marlins, getting 17 home runs, 59 RBIs and 185 hits in 158 games played. Ramirez’s best season would come in 2009, as he finished second in NL MVP voting thanks to 24 home runs, 106 RBIs and 197 hits in 151 games. Despite playing most of his career for the Marlins, Ramirez would also have a significant stretch with the Boston Red Sox later on before retiring after the 2019 season with 271 home runs, 917 RBIs and 1,834 hits in 1,668 career games.

5. Dontrelle Willis (2003)

Photo Credit: Baseball America

Willis, also known by his nickname “D-Train”, broke onto the scene after winning RotY in 2003 with the Marlins, earning 14 victories and 142 strikeouts for an ERA of 3.30 over the course of 160.2 innings pitched, before carrying his momentum into the World Series to become one of a select few starting pitchers to win a championship in their rookie season. Willis spent most of his career with the Marlins, including a dominant 2005 campaign which saw him finish second in the NL Cy Young Award race with an MLB-best 22 wins, while also striking out 170 batters in 236.1 innings pitched for an ERA of 2.63. However, despite the hot start, Willis’ time in the MLB would end after the 2011 season, with Willis never being the same after a tempestuous 2007 campaign. Still, Willis collected 72 career wins and 896 strikeouts in 1,221.2 innings pitched for a 4.17 ERA.

4. Rafael Furcal (2000)

Photo Credit: Atlanta Braves

Furcal scored the RotY crown in 2000 while a member of the Atlanta Braves, getting four home runs, 37 RBIs and 134 hits in 131 games played. Furcal’s career would mostly be divided between the Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers, though his biggest career accomplishment would come with the St. Louis Cardinals as he joined the team at midseason for their World Series-winning run in 2011. Upon retiring in 2014, Furcal put together 113 homers, 587 RBIs and 1,817 hits in 1,614 games played.

3. Ryan Braun (2007)

Photo Credit: USA Today

Braun picked up RotY honors in 2007 with the Milwaukee Brewers, as he had an astounding 34 home runs, 97 RBIs and 146 hits in only 113 games. Braun would play his entire MLB career in the Cream City, including a 2011 season which saw him win the NL MVP award with 33 home runs, 111 RBIs and 187 hits in 150 games, as well as a runner-up spot in 2012 thanks to an NL-leading 41 home runs to go with 112 RBIs and 191 hits in 154 games. Braun announced his retirement after the 2020 season, taking a total of 352 home runs, 1,154 RBIs and 1,963 hits in 1,766 games played. Braun was inducted to the Milwaukee Brewers Wall of Honor in 2019.

2. Ryan Howard (2005)

Photo Credit: The Good Phight

Howard won the 2005 RotY award with the Philadelphia Phillies, smacking 22 home runs, 63 RBIs and 90 hits in only 88 games played. Howard spent his entire career with the Phillies, most notably earning a World Series ring with the team in 2008. Statistically speaking, Howard’s best year came in his sophomore season in 2006, as he dominated by leading the MLB in both home runs with 58 and RBIs with 149, while also getting 182 hits in 159 games. Also in 2008, Howard finished second in the MVP race with an MLB-best 48 home runs and 146 RBIs, while also playing in all 162 games after nabbing 153 hits. Howard retired after the 2016 season, finishing his career with a total of 382 home runs, 1,194 RBIs and 1,475 hits in 1,572 games played.

1. Albert Pujols (2001)

Photo Credit: shgmom56 - Wikipedia

One of the best hitters in recent MLB history, Pujols wasted no time in breaking out as he won the RotY title in 2001 with the Cardinals, hitting 37 home runs, 130 RBIs and 194 hits in 161 games played, not only taking Rookie of the Year but also finishing fourth in the MVP standings. Pujols made sure his outstanding rookie season was no fluke, as in 2002 he moved his way up to second in the MVP vote after grabbing 34 home runs, 127 RBIs and 185 hits in 157 games, following that up in 2003 with another runner-up campaign featuring 43 homers, 124 RBIs and an NL-best 212 hits in 157 games.

In 2005, however, Pujols would finally claim his MVP award after hitting 41 dingers, 117 RBIs and 195 hits in 161 games played. The upward trajectory of his career would be far from over, as he again came in second for MVP in 2006 with a career-high 49 home runs and 137 RBIs along with 177 hits in 143 games. However, despite the 2006 Cardinals barely scraping into the postseason with an 83-win season, Pujols would help the team defy the odds to claim his first World Series ring.

Pujols continued to rake in 2008, earning his second MVP award with 37 home runs, 116 RBIs and 187 hits in 148 games played, before becoming just the 12th player in MLB history to win back-to-back MVP awards in 2009, courtesy of an MLB-leading 47 home runs while also grabbing 135 RBIs and 186 hits in 160 games. Continuing into 2010, Pujols dominated yet again with a NL-leading 42 homers and 118 RBIs, as he also captured 183 hits in 159 games in addition to earning both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger honors.

In what would be the final season of his initial run in St. Louis, Pujols shockingly did not finish in the top-two for the MVP, but he would more than make up for this by taking home his second World Series ring in 2011. This would mark the end of his peak as Pujols joined the Los Angeles Angels for the next several seasons beginning in 2012, where he would mostly be a very good player, albeit not a serious MVP candidate. Pujols retired after the 2022 season, finishing as just the fourth player to join the 700 Home Run Club with 703, as well as contributing 2,218 RBIs and 3,384 hits in 3,080 career games. Pujols is expected to enter the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2028.