Devin Williams became the third Brewers player overall and the first pitcher to win his league’s Rookie of the Year Award, taking that honor in the NL after yielding only one earned run all season and posting the highest strikeout rate in history for a pitcher who worked more than seven innings.
The 29-31 Brewers made history in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season by becoming the first Major League team ever to make the postseason on the strength of a losing record -- just a few minutes before the Astros did the same in the American League. But as Brewers manager Craig Counsell said, “There’s no reason to apologize for getting in the playoffs.” That was especially true for a team celebrating a third straight playoff berth under Counsell and president of baseball operations David Stearns, an unprecedented streak of success for a franchise celebrating its 50th anniversary season.
Unlike most of the Brewers’ earlier postseason entries, this one was led by pitching. Devin Williams became the third Brewers player overall and the first pitcher to win his league’s Rookie of the Year Award, taking that honor in the NL after yielding only one earned run all season and posting the highest strikeout rate in history for a pitcher who worked more than seven innings. Josh Hader’s velocity dropped a tick but he tied the Major League record with 35 consecutive hitless at-bats to start a season, and set an all-time record with 12 consecutive hitless appearances to start a season. Corbin Burnes bounced back from a disastrous 2019 by making a run for the NL ERA title, only to be denied in his final outing of the season by an oblique injury. But while a number of pitchers thrived, Brewers hitters combined for the lowest batting average (.223) and highest swing and miss rate (30.3 percent) in franchise history, fitting a pattern that swept across most of Major League Baseball during a strange season. Even Christian Yelich was impacted; he began the season 3-for-34 with 16 strikeouts. But the Brewers and Ryan Braun, playing the final guaranteed year of his contract, found a way to win enough games to sneak into the postseason as the NL’s second Wild Card before falling in a two-game sweep to the eventual World Series champion Dodgers in the NL Wild Card Series.