The 2020 season may be over for the Brewers, but some individual awards are just starting to get announced.
At 29-31, the 2020 Milwaukee Brewers squad certainly had their share of flaws, many of which have been well-documented here. But a team doesn’t make the playoffs without having plenty of bright spots as well.
Most of those bright spots were on the pitching staff, from potential a potential Cy Young candidate to a reliever in the mix for Rookie of the Year. That’s not to say that the offense, as inconsistent as it was, didn’t have some positive contributors as well.
While the major MLB awards won’t get announced for a while yet, some other national and local MLB awards are starting to get announced. For the Brewers, that means some of their top performers are beginning to get some well-deserved recognition.
Williams takes home first national award, likely not his last
Brewers reliever Devin Williams was one of the best stories for Milwaukee during the 2020 season. The former second-round pick was close to not making the Opening Day roster back when they were only 26 players deep. By the end of the year, he was one of the worst-kept bullpen secrets in baseball.
Williams and his devastating changeup were already a favorite to win MLB’s own Reliever of the Year award, but specifically for the National League. That part wasn’t surprising considering he led all qualified NL relievers in fWAR (1.4), ERA (0.33), and K/9 (17.68). But to have Baseball Digest name him the best reliever in all of baseball is sure saying something.
The American League has some impressive relievers of their own, such as the A’s Liam Hendricks who tied Williams in fWAR and was second in the MLB in saves and the Indians’ James Karinchak who matched Williams in K/9. Only one of those three led or tied for the lead in all of MLB in those two categories as well as ERA, though, and that was Williams.
Burnes leads the way for Brewers in local BBWAA awards
While Williams was able to take home some national recognition, likely not the only time he does so this offseason, he joined four fellow Brewer teammates in taking home an award from the Milwaukee BBWAA chapter as well.
Being voted team MVP is just icing on the cake for Corbin Burnes in a season that saw him shake off a nightmare 2019 season to bounce back and look more like what fans saw in 2018. Though Williams may have been more dominant at times, Burnes stepped up to lead the team as arguably their best starter for most of the year once he was put in the rotation.
With many of the offseason acquisitions failing to live up to expectations, Jedd Gyorko was the easy pick for Top Newcomer. Not only did he outperform all offseason pickups, he was one of the entire team’s most consistent hitters all season.
Eric Yardley being named Unsung Hero was a pleasant surprise but definitely a worthy choice as the rookie led the team in games pitched and finished the year with a stellar 1.54 ERA. And why not Josh Lindblom for the Good Guy Award who helped lead the team’s “Positivity Train” when times got tough and presented himself as one of the more approachable players on the Brewers.
As awards season continues, there are sure to be more honors to come in for some of the top Brewers players. We’ll recap them here as they continue to be announced.