Williams first reliever to win ROY since 2011

On Monday while vacationing in Jamaica, Williams attained an honor he said he never thought possible while being raised in St. Louis by a single mother, or while struggling in the wake of Tommy John surgery in Milwaukee’s Minor League system.

He received 14 of 30 first-place votes and 95 total points in the BBWAA’s system to win over the Phillies’ Alec Bohm (nine first-place votes, 74 points) and the Padres’ Jake Cronenworth (six first-place votes, 74 points). Lewis unanimously won the AL award, beating out Luis Robert of the White Sox and Cristian Javier of the Astros.

The news was still sinking when Williams was asked about bucking the historical odds and becoming the 12th relief pitcher to win a Rookie of the Year Award in either league.

“To me, it’s all the same. It holds the same weight. There are analysts who may argue with that,” Williams said. “Everyone is given the same number of games this year so what you did with them is what you did with them. I saw some people saying I didn’t have that many innings and things like that, but I did with mine what I did, and they did with theirs what they did. We all had the same opportunity.”

Williams, 26, made his MLB debut in August 2019 and was on Milwaukee’s big league roster the entire 2020 season. He surrendered just one earned run (0.33 ERA) and eight hits (0.63 WHIP) in 27 innings this season while striking out 53 batters. It works out to 1.2 WAR in only 27 innings. He joins Ryan Braun (2007) and Pat Listach (1992) as the only Brewers to be named Rookie of the Year.

He’s the third Brewers player to win his league’s Rookie of the Year Award and the first Brewers pitcher to be so honored. Ryan Braun was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2007 after a debut season at third base, and shortstop Pat Listach won the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 1992, when he had 54 stolen bases.

For much of the season Cronenworth, 26, was the Rookie of the Year favorite. But he struggled late, and finished with a still excellent .285/.354/.477 batting line and 15 doubles in 54 games. The 24-year-old Bohm made his debut on Aug. 13 and had a big impact in 44 games, hitting .338/.400/.481 with four homers and 23 RBI.

In the American League, Mariners slugger Kyle Lewis unanimously took home Rookie of the Year honors.

As a reminder, voting for all major awards takes places after the regular season and before the postseason. These are regular season awards only.

The Rookie of the Year awards were the first of the major MLB awards to be handed out this week. Keep up with all the awards finalists and schedule here.

WHO IS DEVIN WILLIAMS

Williams attended Christian Brothers College High School until his sophomore year when he transferred to Hazelwood West High School in Hazelwood, Missouri. The Brewers selected him in the second round, with the 54th overall selection, of the 2013 MLB draft.  He signed with the Brewers for a $1.35 million signing bonus rather than enroll at the University of Missouri. During spring training in 2017, Williams tore the ulnar collateral ligament of the elbow. He underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the entire season. In 2019, he was chosen to represent the Brewers at the All-Star Futures Game.

On August 5, 2019, the Brewers selected Williams’ contract and promoted him to the major leagues. He made his debut on August 7 against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

Williams was named the NL Reliever of the Month in September 2020. In 13 innings he surrendered just four hits, no runs and 24 strikeouts.

On October 5, 2020, Williams was named Baseball Digest’s/eBay Major League Baseball’s Relief Pitcher of the Year. Williams had a breakout year finishing with an ERA of 0.33, surrendering just 18 hits in 27 innings and 53 strikeouts. Devin struck out over half the batters he faced in 22 appearances. He received 12 of the 17 votes. On November 9th, 2020, Williams was named the National League Rookie of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Pitching style

Williams has three primary pitches: 4-seam fastball, circle changeup with screwball-like movement while rotating the ball off the ring finger during release, which is also similar to a cricket leg-spinner bowling a googly, but at a much faster pace of around 85 mph and with a very high spin-rate of 2852 rpm. He also has a rarely-used cutter and sinker. In 2020, due to the increased movement on the changeup, he has increased its usage and is often used as a strikeout pitch. He refers to his changeup as the “Airbender