For the first time since 2011, a relief pitcher has won a Rookie of the Year award.
Devin Williams, the changeup-throwing setup man for the Milwaukee Brewers, was named the NL Rookie of the Year on Monday following a vote by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Williams received 14 of 30 first-place votes to top San Diego Padres infielder Jake Cronenworth and Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm. Williams is only the second Brewers player to win the NL award, joining Ryan Braun (2007). Pat Listach won the AL version in 1992.
Bohm and Cronenworth were tied with 74 points, Bohm earning nine first-place votes and Cronenworth earning six. But Williams won handily with 95 total points. Tony Gonsolin of the Dodgers finished fourth.
Here are the individual ballots:
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Williams, 26, emerged as one of MLB's most dominant relievers on the strength of one pitch — his changeup. Milwaukee's set up man allowed just one earned run (0.33 ERA) and 18 total baserunners (0.63 WHIP) over 27 innings while striking out an astonishing 53 batters. The short season may have worked to his advantage to some degree, but opponents simply did not have an answer for Williams.
Of note: Williams is the first pitcher ever to win the Rookie of the Year without earning a save or starting a game. Goes to show the value of relief pitchers in modern baseball. He’s also the first pitcher to win the award who wasn’t a starter or closer.
Cronenworth, 26, was a key contributor for the fast-emerging Padres. He finished with a strong .285/.354/.477 batting line to go along with four homers, 15 doubles and three stolen bases. Another thing we shouldn't overlook is Cronenworth's versatility. He spent time at all four infield positions, which allowed San Diego to buy rest for Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Eric Hosmer.
Bohm, 24, gave the Phillies offense an immediate boost upon his Aug. 13 call up. Over 44 games, he slashed .338/.400/.481 with four homers, 11 doubles and 23 RBIs in just 44 games for the Phillies. Had he played the entire 60-game season, it’s Bohm would have done enough to change the outcome of the voting. He might have the brightest future among the finalists.
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