Ladies and gentleman, its the First Annual Royals Review Awards! Here's your host - Billy Crystal!
"Good evening everyone, its great to be here. I haven't seen this many critical spirits assembled in one place since the opening of my film 'City Slickers 3: The Slickening!"
"But seriously folks, what a year for the Royals, right? They surprised the baseball world with their defense and baserunning with an amazing post-season run. But in the end Royals fans were like me when my peonies don't bloom right - mad at a bum gardener."
"Does anyone want to see my Sammy Davis Jr. impression one more time? No? Okay, let's hand out some hardware."
Royals Player of the Year: Alex Gordon
Gordon put it all together, giving us the kind of productivity we envisioned when the Royals made him the #2 overall pick back in 2005. Gordon has become the best defensive left-fielder in the game, as he picked up his fourth Gold Glove, and his 2.6 dWAR helped fuel talk that he may be among the most valuable players in the game. Despite a September swoon, Gordon had a well-rounded season, hitting .266/.351/.432 with 19 HR 74 RBI. His 6.6 rWAR were fifth in the American League among position players and the eleventh most by a Royals position player in franchise history. Alex has sealed his place in franchise history as one of the greats, and he nearly gave us the most thrilling ninth inning in Game 7 World Series history when he came just 90 feet short of scoring on a base hit to left. - Max Rieper
Honorable Mention: Lorenzo Cain
Royals Pitcher of the Year: Wade Davis
We mocked "Cool Stuff" for over a year, after his disastrous 2013 season as a starting pitcher. But it turns out the "Key to the Trade" was actually the key to the trade - as a dominating relief pitcher. Wade was phenomenal as a shut-down eighth inning middle reliever. He did not give up an extra-base hit until late July. He went 71 innings without giving up a single home run, the 13th most innings pitched without a home run in the divisional era. His 3.7 rWAR were the most by a Royals reliever since Joakim Soria in 2010. His 1.00 ERA is the lowest ever by a Royals reliever with at least 40 innings pitched. The pitcher who once served as an awful reminder of the Wil Myers trade after each home run he gave up has now become an indispensable part of the pitching staff. -Max Rieper
Honorable Mention: Yordano Ventura
Biggest Surprise: Lorenzo Cain's season
Lorenzo had his coming-out party in the post-season, earning ALCS honors with his remarkable defense and a hot bat to boot. But Lorenzo had been fantastic in the regular season as well, posting a line of .301/.339/.412 with a career-high 28 steals. He was healthy for a change, playing in a career-high 133 games. Notwithstanding the lack of a Gold Glove Award, Lorenzo's defense was exemplary. His 2.7 dWAR was sixth among all defenders this year, and he was a regular highlight reel all season. We also learned from Andy McCullough that Lorenzo had a fascinating, challenging road to get to the big leagues, and in the post-season, we learned about his love for Salvador Perez. What a fun guy to root for. - Max Rieper
Honorable Mention: Eric Hosmer's and Mike Moustakas' performance in the post-season
Biggest Disappointment: Billy Butler's season
Billy has long been a favorite on this site, but his 2014 season gave plenty of fodder for his critics. While its doubtful his rotund figure had much to do with his decline (he wasn't exactly fit in 2012 when he hit 29 home runs), it provided a large target when Butler hit just nine home runs. His .271/.323/.379 line was easily the worst of his career in each category, and the double plays didn't subside either, as he hit into 21 twin-killings. Butler is a free agent and may have played in his last game as a Royal and I think many of us wish he had left on a better note than his 2014 season. - Max Rieper
Honorable Mention: Omar Infante's season
Game of the Year: Wild Card Game against Oakland
Honorable Mention: World Series Game 6 against San Francisco
The Royals played quite a few amazing games--they bludgeoned opponents in a 10-game winning streak aided by superfan Sung Woo, bashed their way into first place with an 8-game winning streak, reached the playoffs for the first time in 29 years, and then played 14 additional games on their way to be American League champions.
However, all of the postseason glory would not have occurred nor would the amazing regular season carry so much weight if not for the Wild Card game at Kauffman Stadium on September 30. The Royals and Oakland Athletics fought until the A's wrested a 7-3 lead away with John Lester still on the mound in the eighth inning. Kansas City tied it up, sent the game into extra innings, and propelled the contest into legend in the 12th inning with a walk-off single from Salvador Perez. It was the best game I've ever seen in my life, live or otherwise, and experiencing it with 40,000 of my closest friends at the stadium was a blast.
Oh, and to the two couples in my row who left after the sixth inning: HA. - Matthew LaMar
Individual Player Performance of the Year: Alex Gordon, May 18 vs. Baltimore (4-4, two 3-run HR)
Lorenzo Cain had a very good Game Two of the ALCS on a big stage, but hanging two trip dongs is simply absurd
Royals don't get to do that. Four at-bat. Four hits. Two dongs in a ballpark in which the parking lot is always working against you. His six runs driven in matched the Orioles' score by himself. To add to his spectacular day, he had a highlight reel catch running into the wall in foul territory. - Josh Duggan
Honorable Mention: Lorenzo Cain in Game 2 of the ALCS against Baltimore (4 hits, 2 runs scored, an RBI, a stolen base, and an amazing full-extension catch in right-center field).
Biggest Blunder of the Year: Alcides Escobar bunting in the fifth inning of Game 7.
The Royals had been praised for the small-ball ways all post-season, but in Game 7 of the World Series, it may have very well cost them the game. The seemingly unhittable Madison Bumgarner came into the game in relief in the fifth inning, and the Royals may have gotten something going when Omar Infante led off with a single. Alcides Escobar worked a 2-0 count, a very hittable count, and he was one of the few right-handed hitters in the lineup against the tough southpaw. Bumgarner gets a lot of Royals hitters out, so perhaps the one thing you don't want to do against him is INTENTIONALLY MAKE OUTS. Escobar got the bunt down (allegedly he bunted on his own without being told by Ned Yost), but Infante was stranded at second and the Royals would not get another scoring opportunity until the ninth. -Max Rieper
Honorable mention: Scott Downs in to face Jonny Gomes, Aaron Crow in to face Daniel Nava.
Play of the Year: Salvador Perez walk-off hit in the Wild Card
It may not have been a triple off the wall to keep hopes alive. It may not have been an electric, balls-out swiping of third base. It may have been an ugly, off-balance swing at a ball that was nowhere near being a strike. Somehow, none of those things mattered.
With the winning run 90 feet away in a do-or-die playoff game in which the Royals had come back three times to tie the game after trailing, Salvador Perez reached out well out of the zone to get wood on a ball low and away. Not only did he hit it, but he pulled it past a diving Josh Donaldson just up the line. Walk-off victory. Champagne celebration ensued. It was the biggest moment the franchise had seen in just shy of three decades, and Salvador Perez's single was the exclamation point. - Josh Duggan
Honorable Mention: Jarrod Dyson steal of third base in the Wild Card
Finally, here are your MLB Awards, as decided by the Royals Review writing staff.
What are your choices?
That's our show, good night everyone and don't forget to tip your waitress! See you next year!