Tagged in: award

Milwaukee Brewers reliever Devin Williams named NL Rookie of the Year

Milwaukee Brewers reliever Devin Williams won the National League Rookie of the Year award on Monday night.

Featuring a devastating changeup and a four-seam fastball that gets into the upper 90s, Williams was practically unhittable during the pandemic-shortened campaign. The 26-year-old right-hander went 4-1 with a microscopic 0.33 ERA, striking out 53 in just 27 innings.

Williams is the first pitcher to gain the award without recording a save or making a start during his award-winning season — reflecting the increased importance of the bullpen in today’s game. He is the first reliever to take home the honor in either league since Craig Kimbrel did so for Atlanta in 2011, and the first Rookie of the Year for Milwaukee since Ryan Braun in 2007.

“I don’t really think that saves are the end-all be-all,” Williams said on a conference call during a vacation in Jamaica. “If I come up in the seventh inning and I go through one through five, I think that that can be pretty valuable, as well.”San Diego Padres second baseman Jake Cronenworth and Philadelphia Phillies infielder Alec Bohm ended tied for second in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

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Williams permitted just one run in 27 innings in the shortened season and struck out 53% of the batters he faced, the highest percentage in MLB history by a pitcher with at least 20 innings pitched.

His changeup was arguably the most dominant pitch in all of baseball in 2020. Opponents batted 2-for-62 (.032) against it, the lowest opponent average on a single pitch this season (minimum 50 plate appearances against).

Williams missed Milwaukee’s loss to the champion Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs because of shoulder soreness.

“I’m doing a little bit of rehab still, but it’s feeling good,” Williams said.

Williams, a St. Louis native, was selected by Milwaukee in the second round of the 2013 draft. Williams teamed with closer Josh Hader to form a shutdown tandem at the back end of the Brewers’ bullpen.

Williams broke into the majors last year, finishing with no record and a 3.95 ERA in 13 relief appearances. He struck out 14 in 13⅔ innings. Cronenworth hit .285 in 54 matches for San Diego, helping the Padres reach the playoffs for the first time since 2006. Bohm, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 amateur draft, batted .338 with four homers and 23 RBIs in 44 games for the Phillies.

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Astros´ Justing Verlander wins second career AL Cy Young Award

For the second time in his near undeniable Hall of Fame career, the honor goes to Justin Verlander after a vote by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

In the NL, Jacob deGrom made history by becoming just the 11th pitcher to win back-to-back Cy Youngs.

Verlander edged out teammate Gerrit Cole by 12 points. It’s the first time teammates have received all 30 first and second-place votes. Verlander was named first on 17 ballots. Cole on 13. Their former teammate, Charlie Morton, finished third. Morton currently pitches for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Verlander is the fourth Astros pitcher to conquer the award, joining Mike Scott (1986), Roger Clemens (2004) and Dallas Keuchel (2015). Verlander previously won the award in 2011 as a member of the Detroit Tigers. He’s finished top three in the Cy Young voting on four other opportunities, including runner up finishes in 2012, 2016 and 2018.

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Performance-wise, not a lot separated Verlander and Cole from one another. Verlander remained dominant and durable in his age-36 season, leading MLB with 223 innings pitched and finishing with exactly 300 strikeouts. That mark was a new career-high for the 15-year veteran.

Verlander also pitched his third career no-hitter, won 21 games, posted a 2.58 ERA and for the second consecutive season posted the best WHIP in MLB at 0.803. That is despite allowing a career-high 36 home runs.

Cole, 29, led the league with a 2.50 ERA while setting a franchise record with 326 strikeouts. Despite missing one start because of an injury, Cole enjoyed a stronger finish to the season. Over his final 22 starts, Cole was 16-0 with 226 strikeouts over 146 2/3 innings. During that stretch, Cole joined Hall of Famer Martinez as the only pitchers to post at least 14 strikeouts in three consecutive starts.

Both résumés are impressive. As is the résumé of Charlie Morton. The 35-year-old right-hander joined the Tampa Bay Rays in free agency and filled the role of ace after 2018 Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell missed time with injuries. Morton won 16 games, posted a 3.05 ERA and was vital in helping the Rays clinch a wild-card spot.

The dispute between Verlander and Cole is one that will likely continue far beyond Wednesday’s announcement. But there was no clear wrong choice on the matter.

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