Kyle Lewis becomes 4th Mariners player to win AL Rookie of the Year
Mariners outfielder Kyle Lewis’ run through awards season has ended where it belongs – with the biggest Rookie of the Year trophy coming home to him.
Lewis was announced as the Baseball Writers Association of America’s choice for the AL’s Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award in a ceremony that aired Monday afternoon on MLB Network.
As he did in several other races for ROY honors from various outlets, he beat out White Sox outfielder Luis Robert to win the award. Astros pitcher Cristian Javier was the third of three finalists for the BBWAA award.
Making the honor all the more impressive, Lewis was the unanimous choice.
UNANIMOUS Rookie of the Year.
The future is bright in Seattle. pic.twitter.com/BbiicaY6py
— MLB (@MLB) November 9, 2020
Lewis joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant on Tuesday morning to discuss winning the award (listen here). Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto also talked with Tom, Jake and Stacy (story and audio here), and manager Scott Servais had a conversation with Bob, Dave and Moore (podcast here).
In his first full season with the Mariners, Lewis led the team with 11 home runs, 34 walks and an .801 OPS. He was second on the team in RBIs with 28, tied for third in stolen bases with five, and finished the year with a slash line of .262/.364/.437. Lewis also led all rookies in runs (37), total bases (90) and walks.
The 25 year old showed in the shortened 60-game MLB campaign that his incredible first month in the big leagues in September 2019 was not a mirage. And he wasted no time doing so, sending a message with a 111-mph rocket off of reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander in his first at-bat of the season.
As important as Lewis’ bat was for the Mariners, firmly planting him in the heart of Seattle’s batting order, he proved to be a star with his glove, as well. Lewis had a strong season in center field after struggling a bit in corner outfield spots in 2019, even going over the wall to rob a few home runs like another young phenom who played center field in Seattle.
What makes Lewis’ emergence all the more impressive is that he was seemingly a forgotten prospect for a time before he leapt onto the scene last year. The 2016 Golden Spikes Award winner from Mercer was the first pick of the Mariners under general manager Jerry Dipoto as the No. 11 overall selection of that year’s MLB Draft, but just a few months later he suffered a serious knee injury sliding into home plate in a game while playing for short-season Single-A Everett AquaSox. He wasn’t considered fully recovered from the injury until 2019, when he opened some eyes with an impressive Mariners spring training.
Lewis becomes the fourth Mariners player to win BBWAA AL Rookie of the Year and the first in 19 years, joining first baseman Alvin Davis (1994), closer Kazuhiro Sasaki (2000) and right fielder Ichiro Suzuki (2001). The native of Snellville, Ga., also becomes the fourth Georgian to win, joining the award’s namesake (1947), Jerome Walton (1989) and Buster Posey (2010).
Further reading: From overlooked to ‘the guy,’ Kyle Lewis still trending up