PHOENIX – One year ago, Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Corbin Carroll had only 32 major league games under his belt. With the Diamondbacks mired in a five-year postseason drought, general manager Mike Hazen had seen enough.
The organization ponied up on March 11, weeks ahead of the 2023 season, to offer the 22-year outfielder an eight-year, $111 million contract extension. In a sport where the potential of franchise players doesn’t always pan out, the Diamondbacks took a measured risk and the bet paid off tenfold.
On Monday, Carroll won the National League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award by unanimous vote.
Carroll had a historic season that solidified him as Arizona’s newest cornerstone piece, becoming the first Diamondbacks player to win the award. It was widely anticipated after Carroll led the team to its first postseason appearance since 2017. Arizona was the only active major league club that had not crowned a rookie of the year.
“It means a lot to me,” an emotional Carroll said of the unanimous vote by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. “Especially in a year like this where I felt like, even beyond the three nominees, there were so many more talented rookie players this year. It means a lot to me that you guys view what I did as being the most valuable.”
Carroll’s impressive campaign beat out New York Mets starting pitcher Kodai Senga and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder James Outman, who finished in second and third place, respectively. Baltimore Orioles third baseman Gunnar Henderson won the American League award, also unanimously. It is only the fifth time in MLB history both rookies garnered every first-place vote.
Hall of Fame shortstop and 1996 American League Rookie of the Year Derek Jeter announced Carroll as the winner on MLB Network.
“Yeah, how special is that?” Carroll said of Jeter announcing him as the winner. “That was a very cool moment for me to be able to connect with him at the World Series. Childhood idol.”
Growing up in Seattle, Carroll followed in the footsteps of another of his idols, Ichiro Suzuki – who won 2001 Rookie of the Year, the 2001 MVP award, made 10 All-Star appearances and is a shoo-in to be elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
“Having my name next to his in some way, he inspired a young Seattle kid,” Carroll said. “Hopefully I can do that for the next generation.”
Carroll burst onto the MLB scene in August 2022, and smashed four home runs, nine doubles and 14 RBIs.
That carried into Carroll’s first full season, which saw a historic combination of power and speed to make him one of the frontrunners to win the rookie award. Ahead of Monday’s announcement, he was a -7000 favorite, according to FanDuel.
Carroll became the first rookie in Major League Baseball history to hit 25-plus home runs and steal 50-plus bases in a single season. Additionally, Carroll led all players with 10 triples.
Carroll’s dominant season led to his first All-Star appearance, where he represented the Diamondbacks as a National League starting outfielder at T-Mobile Park in Seattle, Washington.
In the second half of the season, the Diamondbacks hit a slump but still managed to sneak into the playoffs as an 84-win Wild Card team on the final day of the season. Carroll says his team’s late-September dive into the Chase Field pool was one of the best moments of the season.
“I don’t think I’ll ever forget celebrating in the pool,” Carroll said. “That was a really special one, and probably the one that stands out the most.”
After clinching the team’s first postseason berth since 2017, the Diamondbacks took another dive – into one of the most shocking postseason runs in recent MLB history. Like the regular season, Carroll was one of the important pieces to the Diamondbacks’ playoff success.
In the NL Wild Card, Carroll added to his record-breaking campaign in Game 1 by making more history with a two-run home run against former Cy Young pitcher Corbin Burnes, becoming the youngest Diamondback to hit a postseason home run in franchise history.
The third-inning blast slimmed Milwaukee’s lead to 3-2 and provided a spark before Ketel Marte followed with a home run of his own. By the fourth frame, the Diamondbacks took their first lead of the game on Gabriel Moreno’s 425-foot blast.
The entire momentum shifted to Arizona’s dugout, and the Diamondbacks won 6-3. The very next night, Arizona shocked the baseball world again to win Game 2 and head to the NL Division Series.
After a three-game sweep of the division rival Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS, Carroll elevated his performance in the NL Championship Series against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Carroll finished three-for-four and accounted for all four Diamondback runs with the help of two stolen bases in the Diamondbacks’ Game 7 win at Citizens Bank Park.
Ultimately, the Diamondbacks’ postseason run ended against the Texas Rangers in their first World Series appearance since 2001. Carroll finished five-for-22 and drove in four runs during his first Fall Classic. While his performance fell short of expectations, the experience gained will help him and the team for future postseason runs.
“Carroll is not an alum here from a playing stand, but he’s part of ASU, so why not claim him?” Arizona State baseball coach Willie Bloomquist said of Carroll, who is studying business in ASU’s online program.
“I was checking on his eligibility the other day and seeing if there’s some loopholes.”
Another key member of the Diamondbacks’ success, starting pitcher Zac Gallen, is one of three finalists for the NL Cy Young Award. Gallen would become the first Arizona pitcher to win the award since Brandon Webb in 2006.
The winner will be announced Wednesday on MLB Network at 4 p.m.