For Kyle Lewis, the award’s presumptive favorite, the announcement that he’s a finalist for the Jackie Robinson American League Rookie of the Year award was basically a formality.
And while it’s easy to assume he will earn the requisite votes from the two selected members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in each AL city’s chapter — a total of 30 voters — Lewis still will have to wait a week for the official announcement.
As expected, White Sox slugging outfielder Luis Robert, Lewis’ season-long competition for the award, was named as a finalist.
The third finalist was Astros pitcher Cristian Javier.
On Monday, the finalists for all of the BBWAA’s official awards — Most Valuable Player, Cy Young Award, Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year were announced on MLB Network.
The announcement for the winners of each of those awards will be spread out over next week and aired on MLB Network at 3 p.m.:
- Monday, Nov. 9: Rookie of the Year award
- Tuesday, Nov. 10: Manager of the Year award
- Wednesday, Nov. 11: Cy Young Award
- Thursday, Nov. 12: Most Valuable Player Award
Lewis finished the 2020 season, posting a .262/.364/.437 slash line* with three doubles, 11 homers, 28 RBI, five stolen bases, 34 walks and 71 strikeouts in 58 games. He was named the Mariners’ most valuable player by the Seattle chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
He led all rookies in Major League Baseball in runs scored (37), walks (34), total bases (90), times on base (88) and on-base percentage (.364), while also ranking among rookie leaders in games played (tied for first with 58), home runs (tied for first with 11), RBI (second with 28), slugging percentage (second at .437), on-base plus slugging percentage (second at .801), at-bats (second at 206), hits (tied for second with 54), multi-hit games (tied for second with 15) and batting average (third at .262).
Last week, Lewis was named the American League’s most outstanding rookie by the Major League Baseball Players Association in their 2020 Players Choice awards. Before that, he was named the AL Rookie of the Year by The Sporting News.
Unfortunately for the Mariners, lefty Justus Sheffield was not named a finalist. He certainly had a the résumé to warrant consideration, although his solid rookie season as a full-time member of the Mariners’ starting rotation was somewhat overshadowed by Lewis’ daily collection of hits, homers and highlight plays.
After making the change to using a two-seam grip for his fastball and harnessing his emotions on the mound, Sheffield turned in a season that provides reassurance to the Mariners that he will be a valuable piece to their starting rotation moving forward.
Limited to 10 starts because of Seattle’s use of a six-man rotation, Sheffield posted a 4-3 record with a 3.58 ERA. In 55 1/3 innings, he struck out 48 batters with 20 walks while allowing just two homers. He led American League rookies with six quality starts while making the second-most starts among AL rookies. He ranked third in innings pitched, sixth in strikeouts and tied for seventh in wins. He posted a 1.6 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), which was second-best of all rookie pitchers in 2020. The Dodgers’ Tony Gonsolin had a 1.8 WAR. As for the American League, only Lewis posted a higher WAR (1.7) than Sheffield.
*batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage