A's Liam Hendriks, Brewers' Devin Williams Named 2020 MLB Relievers of the Year

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistOctober 24, 2020

Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Liam Hendriks throws to a Texas Rangers batter during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Wednesday Aug. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

Liam Hendriks of the Oakland Athletics and Devin Williams of the Milwaukee Brewers were each named Reliever of the Year in their respective leagues Saturday.

According to MLB Network's Jon Morosi, Hendriks won the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year award and Williams captured the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year award for 2020.

Both Hendriks and Williams were virtually unhittable for much of the shortened 2020 season, and they both helped lead their teams to the playoffs.

The 31-year-old Hendriks is the first A's pitcher to be named the top reliever in the AL since Keith Foulke won the Rolaids Relief Man Award in 2003.

Hendriks followed up his first All-Star season in 2019 with an even more dominant performance in 2020. In 25.1 innings spanning 24 appearances, Hendriks went 3-1 and converted 14 of his 15 save opportunities. He also posted a 1.78 ERA and 0.67 WHIP while striking out 37 batters.

The Aussie played a key role in Oakland winning the AL West crown for the first time since 2013.

While Hendriks is a journeyman veteran who only recently reached an elite level, Williams burst onto the scene this season after making just 13 appearances as a rookie in 2019.

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The 26-year-old was a setup man for Josh Hader, but he was the Brewers' best reliever and arguably the best reliever in all of baseball in 2020. Williams pitched 27 innings across 22 appearances and went 4-1 with a 0.33 ERA and 0.63 WHIP.

Williams also struck out a ridiculous 53 batters in those 27 innings. As pointed out by the Pitching Ninja Rob Friedman, Williams' devastating changeup was his biggest key to success:

A Brewers pitcher has now won the Trevor Hoffman NL Reliever of the Year Award in three consecutive years, as Hader won it in both 2018 and 2019.

Milwaukee's dominant bullpen was a significant factor in it reaching the playoffs this season, although Williams was unable to pitch in the Brewers' NL Wild Card Series loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers because of injury.

Both Hendriks and Williams will be tasked with replicating their performances in 2021 over the course of a full season rather than the 60-game slate that was necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.