The KC Royals have revealed the winners of their 2021 team awards. And who won those honors shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Salvador Perez, who’s won or received nominations for several awards around baseball this year, is the Les Milgram Player of the Year, the Bruce Rice Pitcher of the Year Award went to Scott Barlow, and Nicky Lopez won the Joe Burke Special Achievement Award. The club announced the winners Monday (Twitter link).
With his historic season, Perez should have had no serious competition in winning Player of the Year, Barlow earned Pitcher of the Year for his stellar season as a relief pitcher, and Lopez, who turned his game completely around, was an obvious choice for the Burke Award.
The 3 KC Royals winners had excellent seasons at their respective positions.
Not much else can be said about Perez’s illustrious season that hasn’t been said already, but the highlights bear repeating.
He slashed .273/.316/.544 with an .859 OPS (126 OPS+) and led the majors with 121 RBIs. He also tied for the major league lead with 48 home runs, which also tied the Royals’ record for most homers in a season and surpassed Johnny Bench’s 51-year old mark for the most homers smashed by a primary catcher in one year.
Perez can now proudly put the Milgram Award on his crowded mantle, where it will join his other two 2021 awards—a franchise-high fourth Silver Slugger and the Luis Aparicio Award.
After leading the big leagues in appearances with 32 in the 60-game 2020 season, Barlow made a name for himself as a closer in 2021 with a 5-3 record, 16 saves, 2.42 ERA, and .223 OBA. Barlow proved to be reliable in the role after displacing Greg Holland and being Manager Mike Matheny’s late inning go-to throughout the campaign.
Lopez probably saved his big league future when he replaced injury-plagued Adalberto Mondesi at shortstop. Mondesi’s almost season-long misfortunes gave Lopez new life, and he blossomed. He became the first Royals shortstop to hit .300 in a single season as he slashed .300/.365/.378. And his defense was superb.
Lopez, along with Barlow and Perez, certainly showed the Royals they can do special things. Their awards prove it.
The Milgram Award honors late Kansas City businessman, community leader, and Royals board member Les Milgram; the Rice Award is named for late long-time Kansas City sportscaster Bruce Rice; and the Burke Award honors the late Joe Burke, who served many years as Royals general manager and also as club president. He is a member of the Royals Hall of Fame.
Writers who belong to the Kansas City chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America selected this year’s winners.
Salvador Perez, Scott Barlow, and Nicky Lopez are winners of the 2021 team awards.