The future of the Phillies infield, Milwaukee’s gunslinger in their bullpen, and yet another San Diego Padre making their name known on the big stage. All three of the BBWAA’s Rookie of the Year Finalists have had incredible seasons, and rightfully deserve to be lauded for their efforts. However, let’s not forget the darker sides of their seasons. Let’s look at the best and worst stats for each finalist, and see who comes out on top.
Devin Williams – RP – Milwaukee Brewers
Best Stat: 1 Earned Run.
Let’s start with the surface level here and just say that Devin Williams is completely nasty. Simply disgusting. The guy was absolutely lights out. In his 22 appearances in 2020, Williams finished with a 0.33 ERA, 0.630 WHIP, 17.7 K/9, and an utterly preposterous 1375 ERA+. Now, all of those numbers are already enough to make a Rookie of the Year case for Williams, but we’re going smaller. Let’s talk about one earned run.
Now if you think we’re talking about a specific at-bat or blown lead, we’re not. Devin Williams only gave up one run in his 27 innings. That’s simply astounding. There’s no other way to look at that number than to just shake your head and laugh. It’s insane.
Even more insane is the fact that he gave up that run in his second appearance of the season on July 27th. That means that Devin Williams held opposing teams scoreless for two full months. That’s total dominance. That’s criminal levels of suffocation right there.
Worst Stat: 0 Saves.
What do his total innings have anything to do with his Rookie of the Year eligibility? Nothing, except everything. The last three relievers to win Rookie of the year came almost a decade ago, as Craig Kimbrel, Andrew Bailey, and Neftali Perez won the awards in consecutive years from 2009 to 2011.
All of those guys pitched full seasons, had fuller numbers and were also closers with high save totals. The Closer role carries much more weight in award season. And Devin Williams not being the closer could hurt his chances of taking home the hardware.
Trust me, I know that’s a bit of a head scratcher, but the BBWAA has never really been known for sticking the landing when it comes to awards and honors, and that goes double for how they view relievers.
Alec Bohm – 3B – Philadelphia Phillies
Best Stat: .452 with Runners in Scoring Position.
Let’s start out with a few stone cold facts. Alec Bohm out-hit Bryce Harper, JT Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, and Andrew McCutchen in 2020. That’s a fact, you can look it up. Bohm’s 2020 slash line of .338/.400/.481, with an OPS of .881, is top notch, and it was good enough for one of the top spots on the Philly roster this year.
But the thing about Bohm is this: when his teammates are on-base and he steps into the box, he becomes much stronger. With runners in scoring position, Alec Bohm produced an incredible .452/.519/.524 slash line, which totals to a 1.043 OPS. That’s Solid.
Worst Stat: .270 against Lefties.
Full disclosure, I struggled to find something truly detrimental to Bohm’s chances of winning this award. Across the board, Bohm had a solid first season in the Majors. You simply cannot argue with that.
Jake Cronenworth – 1B/2B – San Diego Padres
Best Stat: August Slash line
As the San Diego Padres grew into their “Slam Diego” monicker, Jake Cronenworth came along for the ride. The newest addition to the San Diego infield, there wasn’t much buzz around the rookie, who’d be stepping to a double-play duo with rising star Fernando Tatis, Jr. That didn’t stop Cronenworth, who put his own stamp on a solid 2020 season at PetCo Park.
In his first full month in the big leagues, Cronenworth slapped opposing pitchers to the tune of a .355/.408/.613 slash, amounting to a 1.021 OPS. That’s incredibly solid, especially for a rookie.
Worst Stat: September Slash line
However, that success from August wouldn’t necessarily transfer over to September. This really comes down to a tale of two Cronenworths. After hitting the cover off the ball in the previous month, Cronenworth saw his average dip below the Mendoza Line in September. His .183/.275/.268 slash paints a completely different picture than the previous month and does muddy the waters as to whether or not he can win this award.
So who wins the 2020 NL Rookie of the Year?
It’s either Alec Bohm or Devin Williams, and frankly, either one is a good choice. Bohm had a great season at the plate and there’s no denying he helped buoy a middling Phillies lineup this year.
However, in my personal opinion, Devin Williams had an insane season and one that seems almost impossible. That being said, could he be docked points due to the nature of the shortened season? Tough to tell with the BBWAA. But we’ll find out soon enough.