Brewers reliever Devin Williams got plenty of love during awards season. But few probably expected him to get a vote for the league’s top honor.
If the 2020 MLB season was the coming out party for Brewers reliever Devin Williams, then awards season was the after party. Just because the initial festivities had ended didn’t mean the good times didn’t keep rolling on.
Awards season began with the expected as Williams took home the team’s third NL Reliever of the Year award in as many seasons. Then came a pleasant surprise as he beat out two impressive position players to win the franchise’s third Rookie of the Year award ever.
Next was the Cy Young award. Fellow Brewers hurler Corbin Burnes was the team representative most expected to pick up some votes, and that was indeed the case as he grabbed a 4th place vote to go along with ten 5th place votes. But there, again, was Williams, who nabbed himself three 5th place votes of his own.
Finally came last night’s announcement of MLB’s MVP award winners. As fun as it was watching Williams rack up votes and wins so far during awards season, there was no chance fans would see his name show up on the final vote tally for MVP, right? Wrong!
2020 NL MVP: Freddie Freeman, Braves
— BBWAA (@officialBBWAA) November 12, 2020
That’s right, Williams was able to snag himself a tenth place vote in the NL MVP voting, the first Brewers pitcher to do so since former Milwaukee reliever John Axford received an 8th place vote and two 9th place votes in 2011, which was also the same year Ryan Braun won the second MVP in team history.
So who made the bold decision to award an MVP vote to Brewers relief pitcher Devin Williams?
Most Brewers fans had to be thinking the same thing: the lone MVP vote for Williams had to have come from one of Milwaukee’s beat writers who had votes, correct? That would be a logical assumption, but was not the case.
Neither Adam McCalvy of MLB.com nor Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel were the ones to vote Williams on their MVP ballot. According to the BBWAA website, McCalvy gave Dominic Smith of the Mets his 10th place vote while Haudricourt gave his to Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Braves.
Neither of those were bad options. But so who gave Williams the vote then? That would be none other than John Fay, a Reds beat writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer. And when you look at the work that Williams did against the Reds, it’s easy to see why.
Williams faced sixteen Reds batters during the 2020 season. Two of them grounded out to first base, one of them grounded out to short, and another one walked. None of them recorded a hit against him.
That means that Williams struck out 12 of the 16 Reds batters that he faced last season. That would equate to 21.6 strikeouts per nine innings, his highest mark (albeit all small sample sizes) against any of the other NL Central teams last season.
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It may have been just a single10th place vote. But it was still cool for Brewers fans to see Williams get recognized in one of the most ultimate ways possible.