Judge won the award unanimously in voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, announced Monday on MLB Network. The 6-foot-7 slugger's victory was a foregone conclusion after he led the American League with 52 home runs and helped the Yankees reach the postseason as a wild card. Judge is also a finalist for the AL MVP award.
"It's a dream come true -- an amazing feeling," Judge said Monday on ESPN's SC6. "Just to be mentioned with the other two candidates as well is kind of an honor with the season they had. I'm just blessed to be in this position."
Ichiro Suzuki in 2001 and Fred Lynn in 1975 are the only players to win the AL MVP and Rookie of the Year awards in the same season
Judge's AL-leading home run total broke the rookie record of 49 set by Oakland's Mark McGwire in 1987. He ranked first in the AL in runs (128) and walks (127).
The Yankees entered this season with marginal expectations by their standards, but the prodigious power of Judge and catcher Gary Sanchez transformed them almost overnight into an exciting young team with tremendous potential.
"It's exciting times right now to be wearing pinstripes,'' Judge said. "To come up through the minor leagues with a lot of these guys, watch them develop, and now to see what they're doing at the major league level is really impressive.''
The knocks against Judge were his 208 strikeouts -- only five times has a player whiffed more in one season -- and extended slump after he won the Home Run Derby. But he rebounded with a huge September when New York really needed it, leading the AL in homers (15), RBIs (32), runs (29), on-base percentage (.463) and slugging percentage (.889).
"Obviously it was an amazing, remarkable year that no one would have predicted,'' Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "When you drop 52 -- I think he really should have had 53, one that instant replay didn't protect. ... It should be a higher number. It was just an incredible year.''
New York came within a victory of the World Series this year, losing to Houston in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.