In college sports, schools often get the nickname “U” (for university) if they excel in one particular position. Some call Iowa “Tight End U” due to their high draft picks and NFL stars at that position. Alabama is “Running Back U,” and USC is “Wide Reciever U.”
If we applied that same logic to Major League Baseball, the Milwaukee Brewers would be “Reliever U,” and their All-American would be the 2023 NL Reliever of the Year, and number four on our MVBrewers list, Devin Williams.
Devin Williams was again dominant this year but in a now elevated role. Following the surprising trade of Josh Hader at last season’s trade deadline, Williams was thrust into the closer role after being the setup man to his fellow NL Reliever of the Year. He tallied 36 saves in 40 attempts and finished the season with an ERA of 1.53, a WHIP of 0.92, and held opponents to a .129 batting average, which was the best among NL relievers.
He has risen through the rankings as an elite reliever in baseball. He got his second All-Star selection of his career in 2023. His elite changeup, nicknamed “The Airbender” has made him one of the most dominant pitchers in the game. According to Baseball Savant, Williams went to the changeup in 549 of 948 pitches or roughly 58% of the time. Across those 549 pitches, totaling 151 plate appearances, he gave up just 13 hits. Opponents had a whiff rate of 42.2% and a wOBA of .184. Having one of the most unhittable pitches in baseball has made Williams one of the most feared closers in baseball.
Williams is the newly minted staple of the Brewers' dominate bullpen. With the offensive struggles so widely publicized, it was his consistency at the final frame that allowed the Brewers to have success despite the run generation. When telling the story of the 2023 Milwaukee Brewers, Devin Williams has a chapter all to himself. He has cemented himself as a top-three closer during his first full season in that role, making him number four on our list of MVBrewers for 2023.
We’ll continue the rankings of the Most Valuable Brewers each Monday and Wednesday through December. Come back on Wednesday to see who we have at No. 3.