Somebody out there with an AL Rookie of the Year vote believed Daniel Palka to be the third-best first-year player in the Junior Circuit.
Palka finished tied for fifth in the vote, the results of which were announced Monday evening. Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani won the award, with second and third place going to a pair of New York Yankees infielders in Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres, respectively. Tampa Bay Rays infielder Joey Wendle finished fourth, ahead of Palka, who tied with another Ray, relief pitcher Ryan Yarbrough.
Palka launched 27 home runs on the season, breaking out after he wasn't even on the Opening Day roster. He was picked up off waivers from the Minnesota Twins last winter and ended up one of the White Sox better offensive players in 2018.
Palka will be the first to admit he's not a finished product and has plenty to work on. He finished with just a .240 batting average and a .294 on-base percentage. But those power numbers were enough to make him the first White Sock with a Rookie of the Year vote since Tim Anderson's seventh-place finish in 2016. Palka's fifth-place finish is the highest by a South Sider since Jose Abreu was the unanimous winner of the award back in 2014.
That could all change in just a year's time, when Eloy Jimenez could be a top candidate for the 2019 edition of the award. Jimenez is currently ranked as the No. 3 prospect in baseball and figures to reach the big leagues early next season. He put up big numbers in the minors in 2018: a .337/.384/.577 slash line with 22 home runs and 75 RBIs in 108 games between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte.
In fact, the only reason he wouldn't be the favorite heading into 2019 is the guy ranked two spots ahead of him on the prospect list, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. He was ridiculous last season, putting up a minor league slash line of .381/.437/.636 in 95 games. He figures to be a Toronto Blue Jay - and Jimenez's main competition for Rookie of the Year honors - in 2019.