It is MLB 2020 Awards Week, and we start with the Rookie of the Year announcements that will be made tomorrow. We have our ideas of who should win, of course, which may be different than who actually does win the votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA).
Here we go with our picks.
2020 AL Rookie of the Year: Christian Javier
Pitcher Cristian Javier (Houston Astros), center fielder Kyle Lewis (Seattle Mariners) and center fielder Luis Robert (Chicago White Sox) are the finalists. Since these are the only three players who can win the award, they are the only ones we will analyze. That’s just the process now, sadly.
Javier (1.3 WAR) went 5-2 for a team that finished 29-31 in the regular season, and his 0.99 WHIP was stellar. The Astros had the 8th-best record in the AL, which got them into the postseason as the No. 6 seed. It’s arguable Houston could have missed the postseason if not for his contributions. Projected over a full season, his WAR might have been 4.0 instead.
Lewis (1.4 WAR) posted an .801 OPS for a team that finished two games behind Houston in the AL West Division. He slugged 11 home runs and drove in 28 runs, while stealing 5 bases and scoring 37 runs. He was an average defender in center, as well. So far, we feel Javier has more value.
Robert (1.6 WAR) was a very good defender, generating the majority of WAR on defense (approximately 1.0 dWAR). He was mediocre at the plate, however, hitting just .233 with a .738 OPS. However, Robert did slug 11 HRs, too, and he also posted 31 RBI and 9 SBs. Did we mention the White Sox won 35 games to finish with the fourth-best mark in the league, too?
A lot of White Sox had good seasons in 2020, and Chicago had some breathing room in making the postseason. Houston had little room for error this year, and while we think Javier might be the “worst” of these players in terms of straight-up performance, we feel his value to his team as a rookie contributor was the highest.
2020 NL Rookie of the Year: Devin Williams
Cornerman Alec Bohm (Philadelphia Phillies), utility infielder Jake Cronenworth (San Diego Padres) and pitcher Devin Williams (Milwaukee Brewers) are the finalists in the senior circuit for this award.
Bohm (0.7 WAR) played both third and first for the Phillies, who missed the playoffs by one game. He hit .338 with an .881 OPS on the year, adding 4 HRs and 23 RBI, but he was a negative defender on the year (-0.4 dWAR). His value takes a hit there, considering Philly just missed the postseason.
Cronenworth (1.4 WAR) spent time at every infield position while finishing as a positive defender overall (0.2 dWAR). The Padres finished with the second-best record in the NL, making the playoffs for the first time since 2006 as a result. Cronenworth’s .831 OPS was augmented by 4 HRs, 20 RBI, and 3 SBs, and his defensive flexibility is a huge bonus.
Williams (1.2 WAR) helped the Brewers claim the final postseason spot in the NL, on the basis of a mere 27 innings pitched—albeit to the tune of a 0.33 ERA and a 0.630 WHIP. His 53 Ks were very impressive, of course, as his middle-relief role was key for a team that finished 29-31.
The Padres probably make the postseason without Cronenworth, while the Brewers might not have made the postseason without Williams. Even though Williams pitched in just 22 games this season, Milwaukee posted an 18-4 record in those games. Enough said for his value.
Stay tuned for more 2020 MLB awards analysis this week!