Kyle Lewis and Devin Williams win Rookies of the Year
This is award week around baseball, with their big-time BBWAA-voted awards being handed out in each of the first four days of the week, beginning Monday with the Rookies of the Year. It goes without saying that awards this season are a bit strange given the small sample that comes with the 2020 campaign. One good, or one bad, month can totally make or derail a candidacy. That being said, there were two very good choices who ultimately won the award.
We’ll start with the American League side, where Seattle’s Kyle Lewis took home the hardware. And not only did he win the award, but he did so unanimously, taking all 30 first-place votes. We’ll get to that part in a second. But first, this was not an undeserved win. Lewis got 242 plate appearances over the course of the season, hitting .262/.364/.437 for a 126 wRC+. I didn’t watch enough Mariners baseball this summer to have a strong opinion on this, but I will say when I did watch he seemed to be a good defensive center fielder as well, though the metrics disagree. Do with that what you will.
As for the unanimous part, this is something about award voting and reactions to it that surprise me. Luis Robert finished in second place, and had a really good season in his own right. He was a Gold Glove winner and finished with a 101 wRC+. So I saw some people say Lewis deserved the award, but shouldn’t have been unanimous. I don’t understand that logic. If you think someone (in this case Lewis) should have won something, don’t you automatically think everyone’s perfect ballot would have him first? Thus making him unanimous? I don’t know, it’s a weird pet peeve but it’s an argument that comes up every awards season and it always confuses me.
Unsurprisingly, the Red Sox did not have any vote-getters in this race.
Moving over to the National League side of things, reliever Devin Williams of the Brewers took home the award. This was a more competitive vote, with Williams taking 14 of the 30 first place votes. Alec Bohm of the Phillies and Jake Cronenworth of the Padres tied for second, though with the former taking more first place votes. Even fourth place finisher Tony Gonsolin of the Dodgers got a first place vote.
This was Williams’s award, though, and he certainly earned it. Generally we think of relievers carrying less value, and that’s not an unfair assessment. Over a smaller sample, though, we see that their impact can be outsized if they are dominant enough. That happens every year in the postseason and it happened with Williams here. Over 27 innings the righty allowed just one run with an absurd 53 strikeouts compared to only three walks. He was the best reliever in baseball all season, regardless of experience level.
This one could have some effect on the Red Sox, too. Or, more accurately, Williams’s breakout could. Nothing is set in stone, but with the rookie’s emergence in 2020 and Milwaukee’s tendency to not spend (that’s changed a bit in recent years, but it was never expected to be permanent), Josh Hader could be available. I don’t suspect the Red Sox would target someone of that caliber in trade, but it’s a name to keep in mind as the offseason continues.