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Astros’ Peña 1st rookie hitter to win World Sequence MVP – KGET 17

RONALD BLUM, Associated Press

4 months ago

Houston Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena celebrates with the trophy after their 4-1 World Series win over the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 6 on Saturday, November 5, 2022 in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

HOUSTON (AP) — Jeremy Peña’s key to success was keeping his head dry.

He capped a freshman season like no other, becoming the first rookie position player to win a World Series MVP award Saturday night after hitting a .400 in the Houston Astros’ six-game win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

“The hardest part was just blocking everything that wasn’t part of the game,” Peña said. “There is a saying that you cannot sink a ship with water. It sinks when water enters. So I’m just trying to stay strong and keep the water out of my head.”

Peña also won a Gold Glove and was MVP of the AL Championship Series. The 25-year-old shortstop became the first hitter to win those three awards in his career, according to OptaSTATS – and all in his rookie season.

“It has a lot to do with my family and my upbringing,” he said.

Peña praised Dusty Baker, the Astros’ 73-year-old manager. When Baker made his major league managerial debut for San Francisco on April 6, 1993, Peña’s father, St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Gerónimo Peña, was the leading hitter for the other team.

“Dusty Baker is a legend in the sport,” said Jeremy Peña. “Not just because he’s there. He succeeded in this game. He gets the best out of his players. He gives you the confidence to just go out there and play hard and let the game take care of itself.”

Peña was able to chase down Phillies starter Zack Wheeler in Game 6, giving the Astros two baserunners for the first time. Yordan Alvarez followed up with a three-run go-ahead homer that propelled Houston to a 4-1 win.

Peña finished the postseason with a .345 batting average, four homers, eight RBIs and 1.005 OPS. He was also the first rookie shortstop to win a Gold Glove and the first homer in the World Series.

Peña was just 24 when he landed the starting job earlier in the season after Carlos Correa left as a free agent. Peña became the third rookie at any position to become World Series MVP, joining two right-handed pitchers: Los Angeles’ Larry Sherry of the Dodgers in 1959 and Liván Hernández of Miami in 1997.

Peña’s 18th-inning homer completed a Division Series sweep in Seattle and grabbed a Noah Syndergaard go-ahead drive in Game 5 of the World Series. His Game 2 jersey goes into the Hall of Fame.

“You have to make tough decisions in this job, and Jeremy makes it seem like it was an easy decision, and it wasn’t,” said Houston general manager James Click. “Carlos is a great player and he’s been a huge part of this franchise. But doing what Jeremy did, stepping in and improving his game in the playoffs only speaks to his hard work, character and the talent he has. There aren’t that many special guys on the planet who can do what he just did.”

Peña became the ninth player to win a League Championship Series and World Series MVP in the same season. He hit .353 with two homers and four RBIs against the Yankees in the ALCS.

The only other player to win an LCS MVP award, a World Series MVP, and a Gold Glove during his career was pitcher Orel Hershiser, who won all three awards with the Dodgers in 1988.

Peña hit .291 with 22 home runs and 63 RBIs during the regular season and will likely finish high in AL Rookie of the Year voting. Seattle outfielder Julio Rodríguez is the favorite.

Other winners of LCS and World Series MVP in one year were Pittsburgh’s Willie Stargell (1979), St. Louis’ Darrell Porter (1982), Hershiser (1988), Hernández (2003), Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels (2008), and David Von the Cardinals Freese (2011), Madison Bumgarner (2014) from San Francisco and Corey Seager (2020) from the Dodgers.

Only four other rookies were LCS MVPs: Baltimore right-hander Mike Boddicker in 1983, Hernández in 1997, St. Louis right-hander Michael Wacha in 2013, and Tampa Bay outfielder Randy Arozarena in 2020.

Peña thought back to last year’s Game 6 loss to Atlanta at Minute Maid Park, where he joined the Astros but was inactive.

“Those guys had a bitter taste in their mouths last year,” he said. “I was on the coaching bench last year, I didn’t want to experience that again.”


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