MLB Rookie of the Year: Mariners slugger Kyle Lewis unanimously takes home AL award

MLB Rookie of the Year: Mariners slugger Kyle Lewis unanimously takes home AL award

The Mariners stud rookie takes home the award for a brilliant first debut season.

After leading all rookies in several offensive categories, including fWAR, and surpassing expectations with his defense and baserunning, Mariners outfielder Kyle Lewis has won the BBWAA Jackie Robinson American League Rookie of the Year Award with all 30 first-place votes.

Lewis, 25, made his MLB debut in Sept. 2019 and was on Seattle’s big-league roster the entire 2020 season. He authored a .262/.364/.437 batting line with 11 home runs in 58 games, and led all rookie position players with 1.7 WAR. The Mariners selected Lewis with the No. 11 pick in the 2016 draft.

Through August, Robert was the favorite for the Rookie of the Year award, though an ugly September slump dragged his overall batting line down to .233/.302/.436. Robert, 23, slugged 11 home runs and stole nine bases. The 23-year-old Javier had a 3.48 ERA with 54 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings this year.

Brewers reliever Devin Williams won Rookie of the Year honors in the National League.

Lewis is the fourth Mariner to be named Rookie of the Year, joining Ichiro Suzuki (2001), Kazuhiro Sasaki (2000), and Alvin Davis (1984). He is the fourth straight position player to win the AL award and the eighth in the last nine years. Michael Fulmer in 2016 is the only exception, though Shohei Ohtani won as a two-year player in 2018.

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 full 2020 AL Rookie of the Year voting results can be seen at the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s website.

The Rookie of the Year awards were the first of the major MLB awards to be handed out this week.

WHO IS KYLE LEWIS

Kyle Alexander Lewis (born July 13, 1995) is an American professional baseball outfielder for the Seattle Mariners of Major League Baseball (MLB). Prior to his MLB debut, he played college baseball for the Mercer Bears.

For his 2016 performance at Mercer, Lewis was named an All-American, Baseball America’s 2016 College Player of the Year, and won the 2016 Golden Spikes Award. He was selected in the first round of the 2016 Major League Baseball draft by the Seattle Mariners.

Amateur career

Lewis attended Shiloh High School in Snellville, Georgia. He played both baseball and basketball in high school. He chose baseball over basketball and attended Mercer University, where he played college baseball for the Bears. As a freshman in 2014, he appeared in 42 games with 17 starts and hit .281/.340/.382 with two home runs and 17 runs batted in (RBI) over 89 at-bats. After his freshman season he played collegiate summer baseball in the Cape Cod Baseball League for the Cotuit Kettleers. As a sophomore in 2015, he played in 54 games, hitting .367/.423/.677 with 17 home runs and 56 RBI. He was the Southern Conference Baseball Player of the Year and was the co-winner of the Gregg Olson Award, bestowed upon college baseball’s breakout player of the year. After the season, Lewis returned to the Cape Cod Baseball League, playing for the Orleans Firebirds. For his 2015 performance with the Firebirds, Lewis was named a Cape Cod League All-Star.

As a junior at Mercer, he hit .395/.535/.731 with 20 home runs and 72 RBI, and was named an All-American by Louisville Slugger, Baseball America, the American Baseball Coaches Association, and Collegiate Baseball. Following that season, Lewis received the 2016 Golden Spikes Award, which is awarded annually to the best amateur baseball player in the United States. In addition, he was the Southern Conference Baseball Player of the Year for the second straight year and was named both Baseball Americas College Player of the Year and the American Baseball Coaches Association’s Division I National Player of the Year.

Professional career

Minor Leagues

The Seattle Mariners selected Lewis with the 11th overall pick in the 2016 Major League Baseball draft. He made his professional debut with the Everett AquaSox. Lewis only played 30 games for the Everett AquaSox due to a right ACL injury, batting .299 with three home runs and 26 RBIs. He spent 2017 with both the AZL Mariners and the Modesto Nuts, posting a combined .257 average with seven home runs and 31 RBIs in 49 games between both clubs, and 2018 with Modesto and the Arkansas Travelers, batting .244 with nine home runs and 52 RBIs in 86 games with the two teams.

Lewis returned to Arkansas for the 2019 season, hitting .263/.343/.398/.741 with 11 home runs and 62 RBI over 122 games.

Seattle Mariners

2019

The Mariners selected Lewis’ contract and promoted him to the major leagues on September 10, 2019. Lewis hit a home run off Trevor Bauer in his major league debut that night versus the Cincinnati Reds. He hit home runs in each of his next two games as well, becoming the second player in history, after Trevor Story, to homer in each of his first three major league games. He finished the 2019 season with a .268/.293/.592 slash line along with 6 home runs and 13 RBIs in 71 at bats.

2020

In 2020, Lewis became the first Mariners player to be selected for the American League Rookie of the Year award since 2001, finishing the abbreviated season with a .262/.364/.437 slash line, 11 home runs, and 28 RBIs across 206 at bats. He was awarded the title of American League Rookie of the Year by numerous other publications, including Sporting News.

 

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