The Rookie of the Year Award is an annual award given to one player in each league as voted on by the BBWAA. Most fans don’t realize this award was established in 1940 by the Chicago chapter of the BBWAA which selected one winner from 1940-1946. In 1947, the chapter invited all members of the BBWAA to vote and the award became national.
In 1947 and 1948 only one award was given. Starting in 1949, one award was given to a player in each league. It was originally named the J. Louis Comiskey Memorial Award after the Chicago White Sox owner. In July 1987, the award was renamed the Jackie Robinson Award, 40 years after he broke baseball’s color barrier.
Prior to 1957 the term rookie was not strictly defined and writers “used discretion” as to who qualified as a rookie. In 1957, to be considered a rookie a player had to meet certain qualifications. Those qualifications have changed twice since then. Currently, a player is considered a rookie if he has accumulated the following in prior Major League seasons:
- fewer than 130 at bats or
- fewer than 50 innings pitched
- fewer than 45 days on the active roster
Two BBWAA members who cover each team vote for their league awards. Each ballot can contain no more than three names. Each first place vote is worth five points, second place is worth three points, and third place votes are worth one point. The player with the most points is named Rookie of the Year.