Chris Sabo of the Cincinnati Reds was the 1988 National League Rookie of the Year.
Walt Weiss of the Oakland A’s was the 1988 American League Rookie of the Year.
To win their awards, Weiss and Sabo beat out a strong field of contenders.
Here is a rundown of how their big first seasons played out …
Walt Weiss — 1988 AL Rookie of the Year
Weiss, a first-round pick (11th overall) by the Oakland A’s in the 1985 MLB Draft, made his big league debut late in the 1987 season. The next spring, he broke camp with the A’s and spent most the season as their starting shortstop.
Weiss hit just three home runs with 39 RBI and scored 44 runs, but defensive metrics generally liked his play at short. Baseball Reference, for example, credits Weiss with 2.4 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in the field.
That combined effort helped the A’s win the old American League West and the American League pennant, and it garnered him 17 of 28 first place votes in the ROY vote.
Other rookies who made strong showings in the Junior Circuit that summer were reliever Bryan Harvey of the California Angels and shortstop Jody Reed of the Boston Red Sox.
Chris Sabo — 1988 NL Rookie of the Year
Sabo was the Cincinnati Reds’ second-round pick out of Michigan back in 1983, and proved to be a scrappy if unspectacular sparkplug in five minor league seasons.
Finally getting a strong lookin Spring Training of 1988, Sabo seized the opportunity, impressing Reds manager Pete Rose with his hustle and willingness to do whatever was necessary to win a game.
That pluck won Sabo a spot on the big league roster, and he made the most of it, starting 135 games at third base as the Reds finished second in the old NL West for the fourth year in a row.
Sabo’s contributions included a .271 batting average, 11 home runs, and 44 RBI, along with 46 stolen bases and 74 runs scored.
He also contributed 2.4 WAR with solid work at the hot corner.
Sabo became something of a national phenomenon, earning the moniker of “Spuds,” due to his alleged resemblance to Bud Light mascot Spuds MacKenzie.
For all his contributions, Sabo picked up 11 first place votes in the 1988 NL Rookie of the Year award voting, allowing him to edge Chicago Cubs first baseman Mark Grace for freshman honors.
Other strong NL rookies in 1988 included Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Tim Belcher, Atlanta Braves second baseman Ron Gant, and future Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar.
World Series Rematch
Sabo and Weiss shared the limelight again (sort of) in 1990 when the Reds and A’s met in the World Series. Though they were heavy underdogs in that Fall Classic, Cincinnati swept Oakland and their might Bash Brothers, four games to none.
Sabo shone brightly in that matchup, hitting a beefy .563 with two home runs and five RBI, while scoring twice.
Weiss, though, was injured in the American League Championship Series against the Red Sox and missed the entire World Series. Mike Gallego was his replacement at shortstop for the A’s.
Both 1988 Rookie of the Year winners enjoyed successful coaching careers after they retired as players. Notably, Weiss spent four seasons as manager of the Colorado Rockies, while Sabo has been the head baseball coach at the University of Akron since 2018.
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