From MVP to Most Improved and everything in between (Bestest Beard? Check!), here are The Kansas City Star’s Annual Royals Awards.
Most Valuable Player
None other than Alex Gordon. He locked down the left side of Kauffman Stadium’s spacious outfield, led the club in on-base percentage and OPS (.351, .783), and slugged a Royals-high 19 homers with 74 RBIs (also best on the team).
Most Valuable Player II
Lorenzo Cain is our man. He was the only Royal to top .300 at the plate this season (.301), flashed an incredible glove in center and right field, and turned it on big-time in the playoffs, earning ALCS MVP. All aboard! We’re on the Cain Train.
Top Starting Pitcher
In the regular season, it was definitely James Shields. His 14 wins tied Yordano Ventura for most on the team and his 227 innings and 180 strikeouts were both team bests. The club is likely to lose him during free agency, and his overall performance in the playoffs could’ve been better, but KC will miss Big Game James.
Best Relief Pitcher
Gotta go with the Royals’ three-headed HDH Bullpen of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland. Known also as The Law Firm or The Cyborgs, these three relievers were lights-out in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.
This one goes to third baseman Mike Moustakas. Batting just .152 in May, he was demoted to Class AAA Omaha. He didn’t morph into Ted Williams once he returned to the bigs, but he did get his average up to .212, and once the playoffs rolled around he set a club record for most home runs by a Royal in a single postseason (five).
Speed Demon Award
Jarrod “That’s What Speed Do” Dyson gets it this year for swiping a team-high 36 bags in the regular season. But he should be looking over his shoulder at younger teammate Terrance Gore. What we’d give to see that footrace!
Rookie Starter of the Year
Yordano Ventura might be just 23, but he already shows the composure of a veteran. And then there’s his stuff. Triple-digit heat is this kid’s calling card, and he used it superbly in racking up a 14-10 record with 159 strikeouts and 3.20 ERA.
Rookie Reliever of the Year
No one can top Brandon Finnegan. This spring, we saw him pitch for TCU in Lawrence against the Jayhawks. In June, he was the Royals’ first-round draft pick. By October, he was zipping pitches past Angels, O’s and Giants in the playoffs. You want impressive? Finny was the first guy to pitch in the College World Series and the World Series in the same year, a feat that landed his ballcap in Cooperstown.
So many to choose from. Greg Holland and Danny Duffy grew especially furry during the postseason, but we give the nod to Left Field Leprechaun Alex Gordon. Truly magnificent whiskers.
Top Amateur Videographer
Catcher Salvy Perez wins this one hands down. (Remember his Instagram work in chasing down Lorenzo Cain?) He’s also got some flair with the microphone, as he showed numerous times in helping out FSKC’s Joel Goldberg during postgame interviews.
Most Acrobatic Outfielder
None other than right fielder Nori Aoki, who usually made the catch but often only after contortions that would make a sideshow artist jealous at the circus.
Most Generous Royal
Several candidates emerged this postseason. Brandon Finnegan and Billy Butler were among those who gave away tickets to playoff games. Reliever Scott Downs gave of his time and made some fans’ day, twice, by playing catch with kids in the stands before games at Baltimore and San Francisco. But it was Eric Hosmer picking up that $15,000 bar tab at McFadden’s that earns him the nod here. The kid was likable already; free drinks for everyone sent his Q score into outer space.