Hendriks, Williams named Relievers of Year

October 24th, 2020

Athletics right-hander won the 2020 Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award presented by The Hartford, and Brewers rookie won the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award, it was announced on Saturday.

Hendriks posted a 1.78 ERA in 24 appearances (25 1/3 innings) for Oakland, along with a 1.14 FIP and 40.2-percent strikeout rate. The 31-year-old right-hander also delivered three scoreless innings in the Athletics’ 9-7 victory over the Astros in Game 3 of the AL Division Series to keep Oakland’s season alive. He finished runner-up to the Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman for the Rivera Reliever of the Year Award in 2019.

“Honored is an understatement,” Hendriks said. “It’s humbling to win an award that bears the name of the greatest closer in history. I’m extremely thankful to my teammates. If they weren’t behind me on the field, I wouldn’t be half the pitcher I am today. A huge thank you to the bullpen for sharing years of invaluable advice and experience with me. Thank you to the coaching staff and the entire organization for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to play in the green and gold.”

Williams, 26, burst onto the baseball scene in a big way in 2020, striking out 53 while walking only nine of the 100 batters he faced in 27 innings for the Brewers. He gave up one earned run (0.33 ERA), which came in Milwaukee’s fourth game of the season. He also had a streak of 31 straight batters faced, from Aug. 14 through Sept. 11, in which he didn’t yield a hit. Williams is the first rookie and the first reliever without a save to win the honor in either league.

“I am very excited to earn NL Reliever of the Year and have this prestigious award remain with the Brewers for a third straight season,” said Williams, referring to teammate Josh Hader winning the honor in each of the previous two seasons. “I want to thank the organization -- particularly my manager, coaches and teammates -- for all of the support. I also thank the great Brewers fans, who were watching and cheering us on from home during this unique season.”

“It’s amazing to watch the way Devin goes about his business, the way he can just command that changeup over and over again and complement that with a 97 [mph] fastball," Hader said. "It’s history we’re watching. It’s not as talked about as it should be. But what he’s doing, it’s fun to watch. The energy he brings, you’ve just got to appreciate what he’s doing on the mound.”

“It’s a great pitch," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said of Williams' changeup. "The way I explain it, it’s like a lefty curveball coming out of a right-hander. That’s not exaggerating. That’s literally the shape it makes. It’s nasty. He knows how to do different shapes with it as well. ... When you can teeter-tot people, that’s what you’re going to do.”

Balloting for the Reliever of the Year Awards is conducted among seven of the best relievers in baseball history -- Hall of Famers Rivera, Hoffman, Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers and Lee Smith, as well as John Franco and Billy Wagner. The inaugural Reliever of the Year Awards were presented in 2014 to the Royals’ Greg Holland and the Braves’ Craig Kimbrel. The Rivera and Hoffman Awards replaced MLB’s “Delivery Man of the Year Award,” which was presented to one winner across MLB from 2005-13.

The runners-up this year in the AL were Alex Colomé of the White Sox and Brad Hand of the Indians. In the NL, the runners-up were the Padres’ Trevor Rosenthal and the Cubs’ Jeremy Jeffress.