NEW YORK -- Carlos Beltran was on a cruise ship in the Caribbean when he got the news Tuesday: He was a nearly unanimous choice as American League Rookie of the Year.
The 22-year-old switch-hitting outfielder, who got married Saturday and is on his honeymoon, received 26 of 28 first-place votes in balloting announced Tuesday by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Beltran, the first rookie in 24 years with 100 RBIs and 100 runs, also received one second-place vote and was bypassed on one ballot, earning 133 points.
"Part of the fun is he's not arbitration-eligible or isn't eligible to become a free agent," said Kansas City manager Tony Muser, happy that Beltran will stick around for a while with the low-budget Royals.
Beltran, who made the minimum $200,000, hit .293 with 22 homers, 108 RBIs, 112 runs and 27 steals in 35 attempts. He is the third Kansas City player to win the award, following Lou Piniella in 1969 and Bob Hamelin in 1994.
Muser said Beltran is so focused on playing he didn't think about awards.
"I'm sure Carlos, in his mentality, doesn't even understand the impact," Muser said.
Seattle pitcher Freddy Garcia, 17-8 with a 4.07 ERA, was second with one first, 12 seconds and four thirds for 45 points, followed by Texas reliever Jeff Zimmerman with 27 points. Boston infielder Brian Daubach, who got the other first-place vote, was fourth with 16 points.
Cincinnati pitcher Scott Williamson was voted NL Rookie of the Year on Monday.
Beltran was the first rookie with 100 runs and 100 RBIs since Boston's Fred Lynn in 1975 and only the eighth overall, a group that includes Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio.
Beltran teamed with second baseman Carlos Febles to give the Royals what might have been the best rookie duo on one team since Lynn and Jim Rice in 1975.
His biggest problem was 123 strikeouts in 663 at-bats.
"That's more of a long-range goal," Muser said. "You just don't take a switch and turn it off and turn it on. I'm not going to pound on him about his strikeouts. When you flirt with the aggressiveness of a player, you're flirting with danger."
Kansas City already knows Beltran's success will cause the payroll, just $16.6 million last year, to jump -- especially if the Royals intend to sign him to a long-term deal. He is eligible for arbitration after the 2001 season and for free agency three years later.
"We'll have to reciprocate and show Carlos how much we appreciate him," Muser said.
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