The expected kudos for Kyle Lewis and his outstanding rookie season for the Mariners have started to accumulate in the last week, but he’ll have to wait a few more weeks before he can receive the most coveted of these rookie postseason awards.
On Thursday, the Major League Baseball Players Association announced that Lewis has been named the American League rookie of the year in the 2020 Players Choice awards.
Last week, he was named the AL Rookie of the Year by The Sporting News. But the most prized honor for a rookie, the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year, won’t be announced by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America until Nov. 9 on MLB Network. The three finalists for the award will be unveiled Nov. 2.
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).
He also led the Mariners in batting, homers, runs scored and walks to become just the second rookie in MLB since 1969 to lead his team in all four categories. The last was Mark McGwire with the A’s in 1987.
The MLBPA announced the award on Twitter with a video that featured several prominent players, including Freddie Freeman, Trevor Bauer and Nelson Cruz, discussing Lewis’ production and play from last season and why he was the deserving choice.
“I met Kyle when he was drafted and I was with the Mariners,” Cruz said. “He’s a type of LeBron James player. He can do everything. He was hands down the best rookie in both leagues.”
Said Bauer: “I faced Kyle at the end of the last year and he hit a ball about 450 off me in Seattle, which is impressive in its own right. There’s not a whole lot of people that have that kind of power.”
Lewis appeared on the video and had these words of thanks:
“Man, it’s a huge honor for me to be voted for an award by your peers is extra special,” Lewis said. “The difficulties of being a rookie and a young player on the team, trying to learn and acclimate yourself with your teammates and people on the teams, I promise to keep working, keep getting better, keep advancing. This is only the beginning. I just want to say I appreciate you guys. I’m extremely honored for this award.”
*-batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage