KC Royals: Annual team awards go to right players
By Shawn Bauman
Three worthy KC Royals players are the winners of the franchise’s annual team awards.
The Kansas City Chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America handed out its year-end awards recently. The selections of three KC Royals are hard to argue with.
In his last season, Alex Gordon took home the Joe Burke Special Achievement Award. Although his final season was not as offensively productive as was hoped, there was still much to celebrate for the long-time Royals outfielder.
Gordon chipped in another four outfield assists on his way to earning his eighth Gold Glove and second Platinum Glove awards. By doing so, he joined a small and elite club—only Roberto Clemente and Wes Parker have been awarded position player Gold Gloves in their last big league campaign.
Winning the Burke award is a fitting way for Gordon to be recognized for his huge contributions to the franchise over the years. The only part that remains is his induction into the Royals Hall of Fame.
Pitcher of the Year
Brad Keller turned in an All-Star caliber performance in his third major league season. In nine starts, he posted career bests with a 2.47 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 186 ERA+.
In 2020’s shortened season, Keller threw the only complete game shutout in the American League. Amazingly in five starts at Kauffman Stadium, he yielded a minuscule 0.385 OPS and only one earned run in 33 innings pitched.
Only 25 years old, this is the second team Pitcher of the Year award for Keller. He will be challenged by the next crop of prospects but has shown he’s a force to be reckoned with.
Player of the Year
There is no doubt that Salvador Perez deserves the Player of the Year award named after Les Milgram. He put on an incredible show after missing the entire 2019 season.
Perez won his third Silver Slugger Award in the last four years he’s played. Despite missing several games due to an eye injury, he still pounded 11 home runs, 12 doubles and drove in 32 runs.
Regaining the hitting touch he had back in 2011 and ’12, Perez hit a career high .333 and posted a career best .986 OPS. Had there been an All-Star game, it’s most likely he would have been selected for the seventh straight time in years he played.
Perez excelled behind the plate again as well. For the third time in his career, Perez led the American League in fielding percentage for catchers.
The three players receiving KC Royals awards were selected for different reasons. One took a huge step in his career, another returned from a major injury to excel, and the other was a team staple for years. They had one thing in common, though—they were excellent choices for their respective awards.