The Royals’ regular season has a few more games to go, but we know they will be in the Major League Baseball postseason for the second consecutive year after clinching the AL Central Division title Thursday night. So it’s time to hand out some awards:
Team MVP: Lorenzo Cain
Cain established himself as legitimate star in 2015, and he’ll likely appear in the top five of many American League MVP ballots. Cain entered Friday leading the Royals with 7.2 wins above replacement, which also ranked third in the American League.
Cain had always been an excellent defender, and he looks likely to win his first Gold Glove in center field. But he also flourished as a hitter and displayed more power while hitting in the No. 3 spot. Heading into 2015, he had hit 17 career home runs. He has hit 16 in 2015 entering Friday.
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Pitcher of the year: Wade Davis
Davis continued the streak of dominance he began in 2014. After he gave up a home run on Thursday night, his ERA rose to a mere 0.99. He overwhelmed hitters in the eighth inning for much of the season, with 72 strikeouts through 63 2/3 innings.
With Greg Holland out for the rest of the season, Davis will become the Royals’ closer for the playoffs. He showed an aptitude for the role earlier in the year, while Holland dealt with injuries. Davis has already saved 13 games this year.
Game of the year: April 19, Royals 4, Athletics 2
This victory set the tone for the Royals early in the season, as they engaged in various spats with several clubs. Angered by a late slide from Oakland third baseman Brett Lawrie on Friday, Yordano Ventura retaliated by plunking Lawrie on Saturday. A day later, the two sides traded shots again.
Scott Kazmir hit Lorenzo Cain. Kelvin Herrera threw behind Lawrie’s head and received an ejection. In the end, the Royals overcame a deficit with a three-run rally in the eighth keyed by an RBI double by Cain and a two-run double by Kendrys Morales.
Best defensive play: Alex Gordon dives into the stands, April 26
Alex Gordon has always shown a knack for daring in left field. He topped himself on this foul ball at U.S. Cellular Field. Gordon barreled over a fan and ended up upside down in the seats.
Gordon caught the ball. He landed in the second row. The White Sox fans applauded him for his effort.
Biggest hit of the year: Salvador Perez’s go-ahead homer, June 7
The Royals looked bound for their first four-game losing streak of the season on this Sunday afternoon. The team had fallen two games in a row to Texas. Then, in the eighth inning, Perez faced a reliever named Keone Kela in the eighth inning.
Perez battered a fastball and deposited it into the left-field bullpen. After the blast, the Royals proceeded to win eight of their next 10.