Brewers rookie Devin Williams has looked like anything but a rookie in his first full season in the big leagues.
It’s all about a pitch that captivated the baseball world. The changeup that Devin Williams throws has blown the minds of hitters, pitchers, fans, and the Pitching Ninja alike. The Brewers rookie has been downright unhittable with a combination of that changeup and his 97-99 MPH fastball.
With how polished and poised Williams has looked this year, especially in high leverage situations, it’s hard to believe that he’s still a rookie.
Williams did make his big league debut last season, and threw 13.2 IP in 13 appearances with a solid, but not spectacular 3.95 ERA. For a 2013 2nd round pick, it was good to see Williams finally up to make his debut, but not much was expected of him heading into 2020.
But luckily for the Brewers, the low expectations for Williams did not deter him from dominating.
Devin Williams By The Numbers
As of September 20th, Devin Williams hasn’t allowed an earned run since July 27th, which was his second outing of the season. That one earned run in that outing on July 27th was a home run by Colin Moran off a misplaced fastball.
Through 20 appearances covering 23 IP, Williams has a 0.39 ERA with a 0.609 WHIP and 47 strikeouts. That gives him an 18.4 K/9, which is far and away best in the league, if he had enough innings to qualify to be on those leaderboards.
Against his changeup, hitters are just 1-for-55 with 37 strikeouts, and the only hit was an opposite field single that had a 74 MPH exit velocity. He’s thrown the pitch 203 times per Baseball Savant, and he’s allowed just one hit off of it.
Against his fastball, hitters are 4-for-21 with 10 strikeouts. On the season, Williams has allowed only six hits, which is good for a 2.3 H/9.
Also per Baseball Savant, Williams ranks in the top 1% of the league in exit velocity, xBA, xSLG, wOBA, xwOBA, xwOBACON, hard hit %, strikeout %, and xERA. To sum up, he’s been an elite level pitcher in a number of ways.
Devin Williams deserves the 2020 NL Rookie of the Year, the first for the Brewers since Ryan Braun in 2007.
Rookie or not, Devin Williams has been an elite pitcher and ranks among the best in the league and the numbers prove that. But among rookies, Williams has been the best.
Among rookies, Williams has the most strikeouts of any pitcher in the NL with his 47 Ks. The next closest is Logan Webb of the Giants with 45, and Webb has thrown more than twice as many innings as Williams (48.2 IP vs 23 IP). In fact, everyone else on that list following Williams has thrown more innings than him until you get down to Ian Anderson of the Braves with 29 Ks in 21 IP.
He’s allowed far and away the fewest hits and runs among NL rookies this year that have played any meaningful amount of time. No rookie with more than a handful of appearances has a lower ERA this season. It’s clear statistically, that Williams has been the best rookie pitcher in the NL this year and he certainly deserves the Reliever of the Year award.
But what about the rookie hitters? Jake Cronenworth has established himself as a serious contender for the Rookie of the Year award as well. He’s hitting .305/.369/.523 with 15 doubles, three triples, and four home runs. Cronenworth has been a big part of that strong San Diego lineup and the success the Padres have had this year.
Alec Bohm of the Phillies has also played well since his call up, but he didn’t reach the bigs until a little later in the season and the lack of those extra major league ABs may hurt his chances of contending for the award, despite his strong .326/.382/.496 slash line.
By the looks of it, it’s going to be a two-horse race for the NL Rookie of the Year award between Williams and Cronenworth. Cronenworth might have the edge simply because he’s an everyday player and Williams is a set-up reliever. Voters tend to like pitchers that are either starters or closers when it comes to awards.
However, Williams has been utterly dominant. He has been far better at his job than Cronenworth has been at his job, and Cronenworth has been really good at his job. Williams is just at a completely different level.
Devin Williams is deserving of the 2020 NL Rookie of the Year award. He’s been the best performing rookie in the league this year and he’s put up some historically good numbers. Now the voters just need to see it that way.