It is one thing to receive recognition from writers and fans. It is a whole other thing to receive recognition from one’s peers. For this reason, the Major League Baseball Player’s Association gives out awards based on votes from the players themselves. The players of MLB vote for finalists in the following categories: Outstanding Player, Outstanding Pitcher, Outstanding Rookie, and Comeback Player.
— MLBPA Communications (@MLBPA_News) October 14, 2020
The thought behind the awards is that the players are better judges for who is most valuable than writers and fans. It would appear, at least to the Brewers and their fans, the player’s association is only half right.
Devin Williams- Finalist for Outstanding Rookie
The 2020 Brewers struggled mightily this season, despite making the playoffs for the third year in a row. One of the few areas in which they did not struggle, though, was relief pitching. In fact, it may have very well been their bullpen that got them to the playoffs in the first place.
Devin Williams, playing in his first full season, led the bullpen in almost every way. He was the most consistent pitcher, and dazzled baseball audiences with a changeup so nasty, Pedro Martinez should be jealous of it.
Devin Williams, Vile 85mph Changeup (release/slow). 😮 pic.twitter.com/PeSz9cXFtp
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 12, 2020
Amazingly, almost historically, Williams struck out 53 of the 100 batters he faced in 2020. He allowed one earned run all year and had a strikeout rate of 17.7 per nine innings. Williams finished 2020 4-1 with a 0.33 ERA and 0.63 WHIP.
The other finalists for the Outstanding Rookie Award in the National League are Alec Bohm and Jake Cronenworth. Bohm, a corner infielder for the Phillies, hit .338/.400/.481 with four home runs, 11 doubles, and 23 RBI in 44 games. Cronenworth, an infielder for the Padres, hit .285/.354/.477 with four home runs, 15 doubles, three triples, and 20 RBI in 54 games. Both players played extremely well, though neither dominated to the level that Williams did.
Corbin Burnes- Snubbed for Comeback Player Award
The argument could be made that Corbin Burnes could be considered for Outstanding Pitcher of the Year as well. However, the finalists (Trevor Bauer, Yu Darvish, and Jacob DeGrom) are arguably more deserved. What is baffling is that Burnes was not considered for the Comeback Player Award either.
There is no denying that 2019 Corbin Burnes was BAD! After starting the season in the staring rotation, he was relegated to the bullpen, then to Triple A, then to Double A. Everyone was hitting him. He finished 2019 with a 1-5 record, 8.82 ERA, and 1.84 WHIP. There was talk that he might not even make the team in 2020.
Burnes, however, came storming back in 2020. Despite missing his last start (which may have cost him the Cy Young), he finished with a 4-1 record, 2.11 ERA, and 1.02 WHIP. He averaged 13.3 strikeouts per nine innings, striking out 88 in just 59.2 innings pitched. Perhaps if he had started this season in the rotation, his numbers would have been even better. Alas, he did not, and his injury at the end of the season seems to have taken away any credit that he is due.
The Other Finalists
The finalists for the Comeback Player Award in the National League are Wil Myers, Adam Duvall, Daniel Bard. Below are their 2019 numbers compared to their 2020 performances:
|Player||Wil Myers (Padres)||Adam Duvall (Braves)||Daniel Bard (Rockies)|
18 HR’s, 53 RBI
10 HR’s, 19 RBI
|Had not pitched in MLB since 2013|
15 HR’s, 40 RBI
16 HR’s, 33 RBI
|4-2, 3.65 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 23 games|
Perhaps the best story here is Daniel Bard, who was set to report to Spring Training this year as a coach, but instead decided to make a comeback after a seven-year hiatus. Injuries, bad mechanics, and anxiety had caused him to step away from the field as a player.
Perhaps Bard does deserve this award. Who can say they’ve made a successful comeback after a seven-year retirement? However, Burnes overcame a lot, too, and definitely deserves to be in the conversation.