Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Kyle Lewis and Devin Williams look to build on their award-winning rookie seasons.

March 27, 2021 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Sports, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) Although college basketball has understandably dominated the sports consciousness over the past couple of weeks, the 2021 Major League Baseball regular season will begin in less than one week. Last season, the Los Angeles Dodgers won their first World Series since 1988 under the leadership of their manager Dave Roberts and a plethora of talented players including Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger, and Clayton Kershaw. It was a unique season in 2020 due to the pandemic and the playoff “bubble” that multiple sports created to complete their respective seasons. This upcoming MLB season, the Dodgers are expected to repeat again but there will be competition from MLB various teams that feature some talented players.

Two of the more gifted young players are last year’s winners of the Rookie of the Year awards from the American League and National League. Seattle Mariners center fielder Kyle Lewis won the 2020 AL Rookie of the Year award while Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Devin Williams won the 2020 NL Rookie of the Year award. Incredibly, 2020 marked the first time since 1984 that both Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year awards were won by American-born Black MLB players. In 1984, Dwight Gooden won the NL award with the New York Mets while Seattle Mariners first baseman Alvin Davis was the AL winner. Baseball has an incredible history of excellent Black players in both Major League Baseball and the Negro Leagues but the amount of Black American players in MLB has declined over the past 20 years. Both Williams and Lewis had success that immediately put them among the best in the sport at their respective positions.


Kyle Lewis is a 25-year-old center fielder from Snellville, Georgia. He has become one of the building blocks of the Seattle Mariners team and was one of the best baserunners at the position with 37 runs. He also made history by becoming the 12th unanimous winner of the AL Rookie of the Year award after receiving all 30 first-place votes. Lewis is the most exciting Mariners outfielder since Ichiro Suzuki and their best homegrown Black center fielder since Ken Griffey Jr. Those two guys are either in or will be in the Hall of Fame and Lewis is off to a quality start to his young baseball career.

Devin Williams is a 26-year-old relief pitcher from St. Louis, Missouri. His statistics and production during the shortened 2020 season were eye-popping. He gave up only one earned run in the 27 innings he pitched and struck out 53 batters. He is one of the strengths of a strong Brewers bullpen. Williams also made history as the first pitcher to win the Rookie of the Year award without recording a save or making a start during his award-winning season, showing that he was great at his work as a relief pitcher.

It is important that young Black kids not only see Black Americans playing Major League Baseball but succeeding in Major League Baseball. Lewis and Williams are young enough to possibly become known commodities in sports for generations of kids and they both are succeeding after Lewis was a former first round draft pick and Williams was a former second round draft pick. Ironically, both men won the Rookie of the Year awards named after Jackie Robinson, who was MLB’s very first Rookie of the Year in 1947, as well as the first Black player in the modern era. He broke the color barrier in MLB playing with the Brooklyn Dodgers. The continued success of Kyle Lewis and Devin Williams can set a path for other young Black athletes to be interested in baseball as an option.

Staff Writer; Mark Hines

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