Cincinnati Reds: Chris Sabo won the Rookie of the Year 30 years ago

1990: Chris Sabo of the Cincinnati Reds ( Photo by: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
1990: Chris Sabo of the Cincinnati Reds ( Photo by: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) /

The 2018 Rookie of the Year Awards will be announced tonight. While no one from the Cincinnati Reds is up for this year’s award 30 years ago, a young player named Chris Sabo took home the hardware.

No one from the Cincinnati Reds organization is up for this year’s National League Rookie of the Year Award. An injury midseason to Jesse Winker ended the Reds best chance to get a player on the ballot. However, 30 years ago a young third baseman named Chris Sabo took home the award in the first of what would be a storied Reds’ career.

Chris Sabo will go down in Reds history as one of the most beloved players of the 1990’s and a key piece of the Reds World Series Championship team in 1990. Sabo, who grew up in Detroit, played high school ball for Detroit Catholic Central High School.

After being drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 30th round of the 1980 MLB, Sabo decided to forego the opportunity to play in the Majors out of high school and accepted a scholarship to play baseball for the University of Michigan. He would actually play alongside future Cincinnati Red and Hall of Famer Barry Larkin.

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Three years later, after a stellar career with the Wolverines, the Cincinnati Reds drafted Sabo in the 2nd round of the 1983 MLB Draft. He toiled around in the minor leagues for five seasons before getting his opportunity with the big league club. His toughness and grit endeared him with Reds’ manager Pete Rose and Sabo made the ballclub in 1988 out of Spring Training.

With Buddy Bell sidelined to start the season, Sabo got the Opening Day start at third base. He would go on to start 131 of the 135 games he played in. He hit .271 with 11 home runs and 44 RBIs. Sabo stole 46 bases and recorded 40 doubles in his rookie season.

When it came time to select the NL Rookie of the Year, Sabo found his name against some stiff competition. Chicago Cubs star Mark Grace, Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Tim Belcher, Ron Gant of the Atlanta Braves, and future Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar.

Sabo ran away with the win, garnering 11 of the 24 first-place votes and 66% of the votes overall. Grace placed second with 7 first-place votes. Alomar, the only Hall of Famer among the NL rookie class who received any votes for the award finished a distant 5th.

Spuds, as Sabo was affectionately known by Rose, is the not the last Cincinnati Reds player to win the award. Relief pitcher Scott Williamson won the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 1999, outpacing Preston Wilson of the Marlins for the award that year.

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Sabo might be the most improbable of all seven Reds to ever receive the NL Rookie of the Year Award. Some fans might remember Sabo more so for his flattop haircut and wraparound eye goggles than his play on the field. But, make no mistake, the three-time All-Star and Reds Hall of Famer is one of the greatest players to ever lace ’em up for the Cincinnati Reds.