Eloy Jimenez not among three AL Rookie of the Year finalists

Vinnie Duber
NBC Sports Chicago

Here's one that will be a head-scratcher to White Sox fans.

Eloy Jimenez was not one of the three finalists for the American League Rookie of the Year Award that were announced Monday night. That means he didn't finish higher than fourth in the vote, trailing Houston Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez, Tampa Bay Rays infielder Brandon Lowe and Baltimore Orioles pitcher John Means. We'll find out exactly where Jimenez finished when the winner is announced next Monday.

Again, White Sox fans will find that plenty confusing after Jimenez smacked 31 home runs in just 122 games, the third highest rookie homer total in club history, behind only Jose Abreu and Ron Kittle.

Jimenez entered the season with a new contract and sky-high expectations. Some normal growing pains - and physical pain in his sprained ankle, caused by running into the left-field wall at Guaranteed Rate Field - gave way to a red-hot June, where he slashed .284/.340/.602 with eight homers, including a game-winner against the team that traded him to the South Side. Jimenez hit the injured list again in July after crashing into Charlie Tilson in the outfield in Kansas City, but had a monster September, hitting .340/.383/.710 with nine homers, eight doubles and 25 RBIs.

All in all, Jimenez finished his first season in the bigs with those 31 homers to go along with a .267/.315/.513 slash line and 79 RBIs. Had he not missed time with the two injuries, he might have soared all the way to the 40-homer mark.

"Fantastic rookie season," manager Rick Renteria said of Jimenez in September. "There are a lot of rookies across the major leagues right now that are exploding onto the scene and doing great things. He's one of them.

"I think the two stints on the IL took some games away from him, but he continued to learn, grow, improve, take the experiences he was gaining. He worked extremely hard on both sides of the ball to try to put himself in a good position.

"Still more work to be done, but certainly has put him in a position where he can help us win ballgames."

Perhaps it was those injured-list stints, along with some defensive issues, that kept Jimenez from the top three. But Lowe, who slashed .270/.336/.514, only played 82 games. Means made 27 starts for the Orioles, putting up a 3.60 ERA and 121 strikeouts in 155 innings. Alvarez, the likely winner, was sensational for the AL-champion Astros, with a .313/.412/.655 line and 27 homers in just 87 games.

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Eloy Jimenez not among three AL Rookie of the Year finalists originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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