While the Major League Baseball playoffs continue on, the season is finished for our local Milwaukee Brewers after they were quickly dispatched by the Dodgers in round one of the expanded postseason. It was a weird year for the Cream City Nine, who qualified for the playoffs as the #8 seed with a losing 29-31 record, but the team did have some superlative performers that helped carry them to the postseason for the third year in a row. Yesterday, the team recognized their individual award winners, as voted on by the local chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
The Most Valuable Player award was given to Corbin Burnes, who put together a resurgent season after 2019’s nightmare. The 25 year old led the team with 2.2 bWAR and fashioned himself into a legitimate candidate for the National League Cy Young award as well as Comeback Player of the Year. Burnes spent a brief period in the bullpen but made nine starts among 12 appearances, posting an exceptional 2.11 ERA and 2.03 FIP in 59.2 innings pitched. Burnes struck out 88 batters versus 24 walks and yielded only a 1.022 WHIP. After allowing homers at a near record rate last season, Burnes gave up only two long balls in 2020.
Though Burnes would seem like a logical choice for Pitcher of the Year, that award was instead given to reliever Devin Williams, perhaps a nod at the youngster’s own candidacy for some NL awards. Leaning heavily on a changeup dubbed the “Airbender,” Williams posted an incredible 0.33 ERA in 27.0 innings covering 22 appearances. His FIP of 0.86 truly reflects his level of dominance all year long. Only eight base hits were recorded off Williams, and he allowed just one earned run all season, coming on a solo homer. He walked nine batters for a WHIP of 0.630, and punched out a whopping 53 hitters — or 53% of the total batters that he faced this season. Williams is under consideration for NL Relief Pitcher of the Year as well as Rookie of the Year.
Top Newcomer was awarded to Jedd Gyorko, who was the team’s most valuable position player this season by bWAR (0.6). Signed to a one-year deal plus a club option, Gyorko began the year on the short-side of a platoon at third base before eventually seeing regular time at first. In all, he appeared in 42 games and accrued 135 plate appearances. His .248/.333/.504 batting line came out to a 121 OPS+, best on the team among qualified hitters. Gyorko finished third on the club with 9 home runs.
The Unsung Hero award was given to Eric Yardley, the former indy baller who was claimed off waivers from the Padres last offseason. The sidearming right-hander led the team with 24 appearances and racked up 23.1 innings pitched out of the bullpen this season with an excellent 1.54 ERA. His 19:10 K/BB led to a more pedestrian 4.03 FIP, but he thrived by keeping the ball on the ground (61.2%) and limiting opponents to a 26.9% rate of hard contact, two skills that can often be undervalued by advanced metrics.
Finally, the Good Guy award went to Josh Lindblom, who was recognized for his affable presence while interacting with the media. The right-hander had an up-and-down first season back in the majors after a lengthy stint in Korea, posting a 5.16 ERA in 45.1 innings covering 12 appearances (10 starts). Field Independent Pitching suggests he was much better than his runs allowed suggests, however, with a 52:16 K/BB and 6 home runs allowed adding up to a 3.87 FIP. Lindblom is under club control for another two season after inking a three-year contract prior to 2020.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs