Seattle Mariners center fielder Kyle Lewis is the unanimous winner of the AL Rookie of the Year award, and Milwaukee Brewers reliever Devin Williams topped San Diego Padres second baseman Jake Cronenworth to win the NL honor on Monday night.
The 25-year-old Lewis was one of baseball’s breakout stars during the pandemic-shortened season, batting .262 with 11 homers and 28 RBIs in 58 games. He led big league rookies with 37 runs, 90 total bases and a .364 on-base percentage.
Lewis also made a couple of memorable plays in center, robbing Oakland’s Ramón Laureano of a grand slam on Sept. 14. He is the first player to win the award for Seattle since Ichiro Suzuki in 2001.
Featuring a devastating changeup and a four-seam fastball that gets into the upper 90s, Williams was practically unhittable this year. The 26-year-old right-hander went 4-1 with a microscopic 0.33 ERA, striking out 53 in just 27 innings.
Williams became the first player to win the award without recording a save or making a start, reflecting the increased importance of the bullpen in today’s game. He is the first Rookie of the Year for Milwaukee since Ryan Braun in 2007.
The last reliever to take home the honor in either league since Craig Kimbrel for Atlanta in 2011.
Cronenworth and Philadelphia Phillies infielder Alec Bohm tied for second in NL balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Chicago White Sox center fielder Luis Robert finished second in the AL race, followed by Houston Astros right-hander Cristian Javier.
The Managers of the Year will be announced by the BBWAA on Tuesday night, followed by the Cy Young Awards on Wednesday and the MVPs on Thursday.
Lewis and Robert had similar seasons, with fast starts followed by slow finishes. Lewis batted just .147 in September, and Robert hit .136 with 32 strikeouts in 23 games in the final month.
Lewis was selected by Seattle with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2016 amateur draft out of Mercer University. He broke into the majors last year, appearing in 18 September games with the Mariners.
The Georgia native is the beginning of what could be a formidable young outfield in Seattle. Jarred Kelenic, who was acquired in a trade with the New York Mets, and Julio Rodriguez are ranked among baseball’s top prospects.
Williams, a St. Louis native, was selected by Milwaukee in the second round of the 2013 draft.
Williams teamed with closer Josh Hader to form a shutdown tandem at the back end of the Brewers’ bullpen. He allowed one earned run in 22 appearances — a home run by Pittsburgh’s Colin Moran on July 27.
Williams broke into the majors last year, finishing with no record and a 3.95 ERA in 13 relief appearances. He struck out 14 in 13 2/3 innings.