Lorenzo Cain and the Royals ‘Madden Curse’ – Part 2


Last week I took a look at the last ten years of Royals players who won team player of the year honors and whether or not there was a “Madden Curse” affecting them in the year after they won. Here are the players who won in the years 2010-2014:

1. Billy Butler (2009) – Billy had a solid year of .301/.362/.492/.853 with 21 home runs, 51 doubles, and 2.3 WAR in 159 games played primarily at 1st base. The only other real contender was Alberto Callaspo (.300/.356/.457/.813 and 2.4 WAR) but Billy was 23-year-old homegrown talent and people were excited about him. The Royals as a whole were less exciting. (Record: 65-97)

Butler was just as good a year later in 2010 and was the first player to win the award back to back since George Brett who was selected Royals POTY eight different times.

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2. Billy Butler (2010) – Butler motored to the clip of .318/.388/.469/.857 at the age of 24 with 45 doubles and 15 home runs in 2010. He was also worth the highest WAR of his career thus far at 3.2. Mike Aviles had a decent year (.304/.335/.413/.718 with 1.5 WAR) but only played 110 games that year. The Royals record went back to back as well sadly. (Record: 65-97)

Butler’s production petered off in 2011 although he still had a decent year with a line of .291/.361/.461/.822. This was the year he spent a primary amount of his time at DH rather than 1B, so maybe that had something to do with it. However, the emergence of a certain left fielder made the point moot.

3. Alex Gordon (2011) – Blessed, blessed 2011. Where Alex Gordon melted faces both with his sweet swing and the ability to throw lasers from left field. He went .303/.376/.502/.879 with 45 doubles and 23 home runs and was worth 7.2 WAR overall. He also led the league in handsomeness. Even Alex was human however, and the Royals only improved to the point where they were merely awful rather than abysmal. (Record: 71-91)

Gordo was great in 2012 (.294/.368/.455/.822, 51 doubles, 14 home runs, and 6.3 WAR) but was unable to score back-to-back titles due to what some have called Billy Butler’s “anomaly” year.

4. Billy Butler (2012) – Billy Butler’s numbers in 2012 were tried and true. He had a line of .313/.373/.510/.882 with 32 doubles, 29 home runs, and 3.1 WAR. The number that sticks out is the 29 homers. Everyone was excited because they thought this was the beginning of a power surge for Bill. That didn’t end up being the case and people soon resorted to calling him “bad” giving continual migraines to people who actually watched him play. (Record: 72-90)

Butler had a slight down year in 2013 although a down year for Butler is a pretty decent year for most others. He went .289/.374/.412/.787 with 27 doubles and 15 home runs which wasn’t enough to garner him back-to-back awards for the second time in five years.

5. Eric Hosmer (2013) – Hosmer came off of a disappointing year in 2012 with a campaign more aligned with what was expected of him (.302/.353/.448/.801, 34 doubles, 17 home runs, and 3.6 WAR). Salvador Perez and Billy Butler were good as well but Eric’s victory was well-deserved. (Record: 86-76)

It was hoped that this type of season would become a typical thing for Hos although that wouldn’t prove the case in 2014. His regular season numbers were underwhelming (.270/.318/.398/.716 with 35 doubles, 9 home runs, and a paltry 0.8 WAR) though he was great in the playoffs.

So in the years 2010-2014, I’d say that the Royals only had one player struggle significantly the year after their win. When I started looking up the stats of all the Royals who had won player of the year in the last ten years, I figured that there would be more of a drop-off during their “Madden season.” That didn’t prove to be the case for the most part which surprised me. I suppose I’m still used to expecting the worst when it comes to the Royals. This past season started a bit of a change in that department but it’s going to be a slow transformation. If you’d like see who else has won Royals Player of the Year honors, take a look for yourself.

It will be interesting to see how Lorenzo fares this year having been granted the title of Royals POTY. Personally, I wouldn’t mind him joining George Brett and Billy Butler as a back-to-back winner. Of course, the best scenario is that 2015 brings us a season where choosing the best Royals position player is difficult due to a dearth of good candidates.

Here’s hoping.