A few members of the KC Royals have been named as team award recipients. While the season as a whole was down, some players were able to shine.
The 2019 season for the KC Royals is one that the team and fans have most likely moved on from. The 103 losses gave them 2 100 loss seasons in a row, and the understanding that the team is fully into a rebuild after their World Series run that seems like a short time ago is setting in even further.
While the season in its entirety may have been a loss in many ways, there were a few players that really shined through the dust to bring some positives to a team desperately searching for progress.
The Royals announced team award recipients recently and will present these awards at Royals FanFest.
Jorge Soler has been named the player of the year and for good reason. While there had been some concern about Soler coming into the season about whether or not he would live up to his potential, that concern has been put to rest. He finally had his breakout season and was able to stay healthy the entire year.
Soler managed all 162 games, slashing .265/.354/.466, with 117 RBI’s, 95 runs, and 48 home runs. He led the American League in home runs, and broke the Royals single-season record, cementing his place in team history and making his claim for player of the year.
Ian Kennedy was named pitcher of the year. In a year where pitching was an issue, Kennedy really showed up. Kennedy was another player who brought concerns with him into the season. He was displaced from the form he once had as a starter and the Royals did only what they could to try and help him get back on track, move him to the bullpen.
This turned out to be the right move for Kennedy, as he became a consistent arm and closer the Royals needed. Kennedy dropped his ERA to 3.41 over 63.1 innings, his walk rate dropped to 2.4 per 9, and his strikeouts hit 10.4 per 9, the highest of his career.
On top of that, Kennedy managed 30 saves for the team, placing him in a rare group of pitchers who recorded a 20 win and a 30 win season during their career. Kennedy showed his bounce back in the bullpen was real and more than made his argument for pitcher of the year.
Last but not least, Whit Merrifield has been named the recipient of the special achievement award. Merrifield had a year for the record books like Soler, but it was a bit more expected. In 2019, Whit managed all 162 games and slashed .302/.345/.463, recording 206 hits, 105 runs, 74 RBI’s and recorded 10 triples, tying for the major league lead.
With his 206 hits, Whit led the majors in hits in back to back years. To add to this already impressive resume, Whit also carried a hitting streak over from the 2018 season and extended it to 31 games, breaking the franchise record.
While it was known that Merrifield was a great player, it’s no doubt that he should be recognized for his achievements as the list continues to grow.
Even in years where the team may struggle, it is always nice to find the bright spots. The players receiving these awards were some of the best on the team and they allowed fans to still have some fun watching the games and seeing them make history.