2014: Jose Abreu, American League Rookie of the Year
Before he was Jose Abreu, MVP, the Cuban slugger was an American League Rookie of the Year recipient. He was the first member of the Chicago White Sox to earn the honor in almost 30 years for his work in his first major league season after defecting from Cuba the previous year.
In what would be his age-27 season (on the graying side for a rookie), Abreu made a big splash. In 145 games, he hit .317/.383/.581 in 622 plate appearances while clubbing 35 doubles and 36 homers. He also drove in 107 runs with 131 strikeouts and 51 walks, 15 of those intentional as pitchers learned quickly to come carefully against the big guy.
He was named to the All-Star Game and was a Silver Slugger recipient as well, heady accomplishments for a rookie, as was leading the American League in slugging percentage and OPS+ (173).
The 36 home runs Abreu belted in 2014 are still a career-high.