The KC Royals announced on Monday their team awards winners, which were voted on by the Kansas City chapter of the BWAA. It is hard to argue with the writers’ selections for each award.
The Les Milgram Player of the Year Award went to outfielder Lorenzo Cain. Who can forget the crazy catches he made not just in the regular season, but in the postseason, making terrific catches in both center and right field. His defense ranked third best in the American League among outfielders (.949 zone rating), while having eight outfield assists.
For the first time in his career, Lo-Cain stayed healthy (for the most part). That led to the most games he has ever played in a season (133). It also led to a breakout performance. Lo-Cain hit .301 with 29 doubles, four triples, five home runs, and 53 RBIs. He also stole a career-best 28 bases.
Lo-Cain made himself a household name on the biggest stage: the postseason. He was named the MVP of the American League Championship Series. During the overall playoffs, he hit .333 (20-for-60) with five doubles, 13 runs scored, and eight RBIs.
The Bruce Rice Pitcher of the Year Award went to setup man Wade Davis. Davis turned himself from a fledgling starter (8-11 with a 5.32 ERA in the Royals 2013 rotation) to the best setup man in the game. All in one season. It was a miraculous turnaround, one that will be hard to duplicate in 2015.
However, as Lee Judge of the Kansas City Star wrote in his recent article, Davis is a smart man. Definitely a guy the youngsters in spring training should be sitting next to in the bullpen or shagging fly balls with in the outfield. They could learn ALOT.
Here are Davis’ mind-boggling 2014 statistics:
- He led all Major League relievers in ERA at 1.00. That’s just eight earned runs in 72 innings. It was also 7th best all-time for a big league reliever.
- He did not allow an extra-base hit over his first 45.2 innings, until Kurt Suzuki of Minnesota doubled on July 31st.
- He struck out 109 batters, a Royals record. That was second in the Majors to NY Yankees rookie setup man Dellin Betances (135).
- Davis was just as good in the Royals postseason run to the World Series. He made 12 appearances, earned two victories, and had a 0.63 ERA.
The Joe Burke Special Achievement Award went to rookie starter Yordano Ventura.
Ventura led all Major League rookie pitchers in innings pitched with 183 (plus the 25.1 innings he threw in the playoffs). That is something we (and the Royals) will need to keep an eye on in 2015, as 134.2 innings was his previous high in innings pitched. He also led all rookie pitchers in opponent’s batting average (.240) and quality starts (22).
His 3.20 ERA ranked 10th in the American League. He was 14-10 overall in 31 games (30 starts).
Ventura rebounded from a disastrous relief appearance in the Wild Card game (which I put solely on manager Ned Yost), to a have solid postseason (while starting). He finished with a 3.20 ERA. Ventura pitched very well in the Division Series sweep of the LA Angels (7IP, 5H, R, BB, 5K) and picked up his only postseason victory in the World Series (12.1IP, 11H, 2R, 5BB, 6K).
There will be high expectations in 2015 not only for the Royals, but especially for the above award winners.