The Milwaukee Brewers made an improbable third post-season in a row. For the first time in franchise history, the Crew had the chance to make a run at the World Series. However, it was not as glorious as it sounds. The team went 29-31, and only made the playoffs thanks to expanded seeding due to a shortened season. There was a lot of struggle, especially on offense. However, if there is one player who can be called the brightest star on the 2020 Brewers, it would be Devin Williams.
The Devin Williams No One Saw Coming
The 2020 season was Devin Williams’ rookie year. However, Williams got his first look at the Big Leagues late in the 2019 season. While he was not completely bad, he certainly was not dominant, and certainly did not inspire people to think he would have the 2020 season that he did. During his brief stint with the club in 2019, Williams appeared in 13 games, gave up nine runs (six earned), and gave up two home runs. He totaled a 3.95 ERA, 1.76 WHIP, and struck out 14 in 13.2 innings pitched.
So uninspiring was his performance in 2019, that BaseballReference projected Williams to finish 2020 with a record of 1-2, a 6.29 ERA, 1.95 WHIP, and a -0/3 WAR.
The Devin Williams We Got
For an appearance or two at the beginning of the season, it looked like BaseballReference might have gotten it right. In his second appearance, Williams allowed three runs (one earned) on a home run against the Pirates. That home run was the last earned run Williams would allow all year. In short, the man was dominant.
Devin Williams: The Best Changeup on the Planet.
[All from the 8th inning] pic.twitter.com/Tdguj3GWez
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 6, 2020
As seen in the highlight above, Williams perfected one of the nastiest changeups in the history of the game. Everyone, including hitters, knew it was coming. However, they just couldn’t hit it. After allowing a single unearned run on August 4, Williams went 18 straight appearances without allowing any runs, earned or unearned. He finished 2020 with a miniscule 0.33 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, and 53 strikeouts in just 27 innings (22 appearances). Williams finished the 2020 season with an incredible 17.7 strikeouts per nine innings, with a great 5.89 strikeouts-to-walk ratio. In total, 100 batters came up against Devin Williams in 2020; over half of them struck out.
Earlier this month, Baseball Digest named Devin Williams their MLB Relief Pitcher of the Year:
Congratulations to Devin Williams of the @Brewers who was named the 2020 @BaseballDigest / @eBay MLB Relief Pitcher of the Year by our "blue-ribbon" panel of longtime baseball observers, including broadcasters, writers, former players, managers and executives. pic.twitter.com/8wcozVg3S5
— Baseball Digest (@BaseballDigest) October 5, 2020
There are many fans who believe, and rightly so, that Williams should win MLB’s National League Reliever of the Year as well. If he does, this will be the third straight year in which a Brewers’ pitcher has won the award. Josh Hader won it in each of the last two season. In addition, Williams has a strong case for National League Rookie of the Year. The last NL pitcher to win that award was Jacob DeGrom, and he was a starter. But, hey, it’s 2020. Why not Williams?