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Insane Rookie of the Year vote denies La Pantera

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Kyle Lewis winning the award makes perfect sense. Unanimously? Uh ...

MLB: Houston Astros at Seattle Mariners
Seattle Mariners center fielder Kyle Lewis (1) advances from first to third on a hit by a teammate against the Houston Astros during the first inning at T-Mobile Park. 
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

My, my, the BBWAA certainly seemed to screw this one up.

Kyle Lewis, with by any measure dead-even stats when compared with White Sox rookie Luis Robert, won the 2020 AL Rookie of the Year.

And Lewis didn’t just WIN the award.

He won it UNANIMOUSLY.

Yes, you’re seeing that correctly; one voter (Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News) left Robert COMPLETELY OFF of the awards ballot.

It is not partisan hackery to wonder how in the world two guys with almost identical seasons, playing the same position, can be seen so differently. If you want to insert the “impact” element, consider the fact that Robert was a midseason MVP candidate who contributed to a Chicago White Sox playoff run. Lewis packed up his duffel bag at season’s end, after the Mariners’ Cinderella shot at the playoffs was long pumpkined.

Let’s side-by-side it:

Baseball-Reference

OPS+ is a definite advantage to Lewis, but overall value and defensive value swings significantly back to Robert. Luis had two fewer total bases in 15 fewer plate appearances. Lewis’ win probability figures are all much better.

Lewis deserved his Rookie of the Year, but a tight race would have made a lot more sense. There’s a case for co-Rookie of the Year with Robert, in fact.

No other White Sox received ROY consideration.

Was this result some backlash from the hype? Certainly, Lewis flew farther under the radar than Robert. If this is a bit of a backlash vote, it doesn’t bode well for José Abreu’s seeming lock on the MVP, announced on Thursday.