The MLB All Star game is a week away, and the full rosters were announced Sunday night. As is tradition, the announcement sparks debate on those truly worthy of a roster spot and those who may have been wrongfully left off the list. Unfortunately, Brewers reliever Devin Williams found himself in the latter group Sunday night.
Williams has turned in a rock-solid performance in the first half of the 2022 season. In 36 games, the Airbender has a 1.93 ERA, a 1.57 FIP (4th in NL), and 22 holds (leads NL). Williams has been one of the best in the sport at generating swings and misses and striking out batters. He has 55 strikeouts (2nd in NL among relievers), a 15.2 K/9 (3rd in NL), and a strikeout rate of 41.4% (3rd in NL).
Williams has excelled in his relief role for the Brewers and has added a lot of value to the bullpen. He ranks 2nd among all qualified NL relievers in Win Probability Added and ranks 4th in the NL in fWAR. He has been putting the Brewers in a good position to win games, and his advanced numbers show that he has been excellent in minimizing hard contact.
Williams’ Baseball Savant page is very impressive. He ranks between the 98th and the 100th percentile in the following: average exit velocity, hard hit rate, xBA, xSLG, barrel rate, strikeout rate, and whiff rate. He also has yet to surrender a home run this season. Hitters are not connecting on his pitches very often, but when they do it tends to be low quality contact. That is an incredibly valuable asset for any team to have in their bullpen.
Not only has Devin Williams been good at generating soft contact, but he has also excelled in limiting runs out of the Brewers bullpen.
Devin Williams has not allowed an earned run since May 10th and has been one of the most dominant relievers since that date. The table below compares Devin Williams to the five selected NL All Star relievers in 6 major pitching performance metrics, along with their corresponding rank among qualified NL relievers in parenthesis.
Yes, you read that correctly- Williams ranks 1st in four of the six categories, and 2nd in the other two since May 11th. While his overall numbers on the season still look very strong, they are brought down by his slow start to the year.
You can’t completely dismiss the first third of the season, however I feel what Williams has done the previous two months tells a better story about the player that he has been this year. The numbers show that Williams has not only been one of the most dominant relievers over that stretch, but one of the most consistent ones as well.
Devin Williams has turned in a solid season thus far, so what could have kept him off the All Star roster?
One of the flaws in Williams’ performance this season has been his command. He has walked more batters than he has given up hits (19-17) and finds himself in the 3rd percentile in walk rate. He is posting career highs in walk rate (14.3%) and BB/9 (5.23). Command seems to be Williams’ weakness in his young career, so him posting career highs in walk numbers this season is a little concerning.
Another reason Devin could have been left off the roster is simply due to the competition he was up against. There were a lot of relievers worthy of a roster spot. It doesn’t help that Devin Williams isn’t even considered the best reliever on his own team. Combining that with the rule that every MLB team must be represented in the All Star game, competition may have squeezed Williams out of the All Star game.
While the Airbender did not make the NL All-Star team on the initial announcement, he could still be selected as a replacement within the next week. The Brewers currently sit at the top of the NL Central by 2.5 games, and despite Williams getting snubbed from the NL All Star team, he will play a significant role in the Brewers’ attempt at a deep playoff run.