Crowning the Best Royals of 2014

Behind a valiant team effort, the 2014 Kansas City Royals treated their fans to a miraculous run that ended in the franchise's first World Series appearance in 29 years. Many individuals played a key role in making this dream season a reality. Brent Kalwei has crowned RoyalCurve's best Royals of 2014 to recognize Kansas City's top performers throughout the entire 2014 regular and postseason.

The awards are broken into separate categories including: best offensive player, best defensive player, best starting pitcher, best reliever and team MVP. Every category features a set of deserving nominees who are up for the award.

Note: *WINNER* denotes the award winner for each category.

Most Outstanding Offensive Player Nominees:

Eric Hosmer

Regular Season: .270 BA/.318 OBP/9 HR/58 RBI/4 SB

Postseason: .351 BA/.439 OBP/2 HR/12 RBI/0 SB

Entering the year with high expectations, Eric Hosmer proved to have a very disappointing beginning to his 2014 campaign. Through the first three months of the season he was hitting a dismal .245 with only four homeruns and 35 runs batted in.

Hosmer began to turn his fortune around in the month of July. During that month, he hit a blistering .366 with a staggering on base percentage of .425. But just as he seemed to have everything figured out, an injury in early August sent Hosmer to the Disabled List for an entire month.

Hosmer was selected as a top offensive nominee not for his regular season performance, but more for the lumber he brought during the postseason. He was without question Kansas City's best hitter during the Royals magical playoff run. Hosmer came up with clutch hit after clutch hit.

In the Wild Card Game against the Oakland Athletics, the Royals trailed by one run with one out in the bottom of the 12th inning. That's when Hosmer delivered a huge triple off the left field wall. His 12th inning three bagger was the beginning of a rally that eventually won Kansas City the game.

In the American League Divisional Series against the Los Angeles Angels, Hosmer yet again shined bright for the Boys In Blue. In the top of the 11th inning, Hosmer devastated the Halos with a game winning homerun into the right field bleachers. In the ALDS series clincher, Hosmer yet again went deep in front of a packed Kauffman Stadium. Hosmer finished the ALDS with a 1.638 OPS.

Alex Gordon

Regular Season: .266 BA/.351 OBP/19 HR/74 RBI/12 SB

Postseason: .204 BA/.317 OBP/1 HR/11 RBI/4 SB

Alex Gordon proved to be a vital piece to the Royals offense over the regular season. He led the team in homeruns, RBI, walks, OBP and runs scored.

One stat that really jumps off the page at you is Gordo's ability to hit with no outs. Over the regular season, Gordon hit .314 in no out spots and 13 of his homeruns came during that particular situation.

It seemed as if the pressure of hitting with two outs was too much for Gordon because his batting average was a dreadful .195 when faced with that situation.

Gordon struggled mightily to get hits in the postseason with a .204 batting average, which was the worst of the seven Royals who played in all 15 postseason games. With that being said, Gordon did make the most of his hits, trailing only his teammate Hosmer for most RBI during the 2014 postseason.

Although Gordon didn't hit the ball particularly well in the playoffs, his bat was one of the key elements that carried the Boys In Blue to their first postseason appearance in 29 years.

Lorenzo Cain *WINNER*

Regular Season: .301 BA/.339 OBP/5 HR/53 RBI/28 SB

Postseason: .333 BA/.388 OBP/0 HR/8 RBI/2 SB

Lorenzo Cain hit, hit and kept hitting throughout the entire regular season and postseason. Cain was the only Kansas City every day starter to hit over .300 in the regular season. He continued his hitting spree by hitting even better in the postseason.

During the 2014 postseason, Cain finished with the second best batting average and on base percentage on the team. Cain trailed only Hosmer in both categories.

It doesn't matter how good of a hitter you are, everyone goes through slumps at one point or another. The Royals offense certainly featured its fair share of guys who hit rough patches throughout the season. With that being said, Cain seemed to be the one hitter in the lineup that didn't allow himself to struggle for a long period of time.

Cain was an offensive juggernaut early on in the season, hitting a staggering .331 in mid-June. Cain eventually cooled off in the following months, but always kept himself around the .300 plateau.

Cain's speed helped him earn 28 stolen bases on the season. One of Cain’s most valuable assets is that he hustles to first when he hits the ball on the ground. Cain's effort was rewarded throughout the season when he legged out infield singles on many different occasions.

Cain didn't have the power numbers of a player like Gordon or Salvador Perez but his ability to consistently put the ball in play and cause havoc on the bases was crucial to Kansas City's success.

Most Outstanding Defensive Player Nominees:

Alcides Escobar

There's something to be said about being one of only two players in MLB to start all 162 games. Along with his excellent dependability, Alcides Escobar is a web gem master. He was featured on Baseball Tonight and SportsCenter many times for his glove work.

Perhaps Escobar's most impressive play of the season was one he made against the Cleveland Indians. With Jason Giambi at the plate, the Royals had a shift on that had Escobar positioned behind second base. Giambi then hit a ball into foul territory that sent Esky on a dead sprint which ended in an incredible diving catch near the Indians dugout.

Escobar was one of the biggest snubs when the 2014 Gold Glove Awards were announced earlier this week.

Eric Hosmer

2014 Gold Glove

Eric Hosmer picked up where he left off last season with flashy diving plays and incredible run saving scoops. Hosmer's tremendous defense helped him earn his second straight Gold Glove.

Lorenzo Cain

Lorenzo Cain has always had the speed of an elite big league outfielder. Unfortunately injuries have plagued him in years past. Nobody has really been able to see him at his fullest potential. That is until this season.

In 2014, Cain played in 133 games, which is the most in his career. With that being said, Cain wasn't really made into an everyday starting centerfielder, as he split time with Jarrod Dyson.

Cain made a name for himself in the 2014 postseason, as he finally got the opportunity to start every game. Cain's big play ability was put on display in front of the entire country. He made exquisite diving plays and running grabs to rob a number of extra base hits. Now that MLB voters were able to see what Cain can do in the field, there is no doubt he will be in the running for a Gold Glove next season.

Alex Gordon

2014 Gold Glove

Alex Gordon makes winning Gold Gloves look easy. He claimed his fourth defensive award this season, which only trails Frank White for the most in team history.

Gordon may not have tremendous speed, but he has the ability to read a ball well. Oh yeah, and he has an absolute cannon, which helped save a number of runs for the Royals this season.

Salvador Perez *WINNER*

2014 Gold Glove

Behind the plate, Salvador Perez is like a defensive lineman in football. Whether it is blocking balls of throwing out runners, he finds ways to take away the opponent's run game.

Perhaps Perez' most impressive feat this season was catching the most innings of any catcher in the majors.

His leadership behind the plate also plays a huge role in the success of Kansas City's pitching staff. Perez calls a great game and is never afraid to come out to the mound and lend some supportive advice to a struggling pitcher.

Most Outstanding Starting Pitcher Nominees:

James Shields

Regular Season: 3.21 ERA/1.181 WHIP/180 SO/44 BB/227 IP

Postseason: 6.12 ERA/1.720 WHIP/20 SO/7 BB/25 IP

There is no question that James Shields had a rough go in the 2014 postseason. With that being said, the Royals wouldn't have even made the playoffs if not for Big Game James' ability to live up to his nickname over the course of the regular season.

Anytime Kansas City desperately needed a big win, Shields delivered in a big way. Big Game James' best outing came in early August against the eventual World Champion San Francisco Giants. He threw a complete game shutout allowing only four hits in a 5-0 win.

His most important outing came against Detroit when he threw seven innings of shutout ball, which helped the Royals avoid what would have been a devastating sweep. The win helped Kansas City hold onto a slim division lead and grab some momentum moving forward.

Shields' most important attributes includes longevity and reliability. He is the only current pitcher in the majors with eight straight years of 200+ innings. He also showed a great deal of consistency by pitching at least five innings in every single regular season start.

Danny Duffy

Regular Season: 2.53 ERA/1.112 WHIP/113 SO/53 BB/149.1 IP

Postseason: (In Relief) 3.86 ERA/1.500 WHIP/5 SO/4 BB/4.2 IP

When healthy, Danny Duffy looked like the most dominant starting pitcher the Royals had this season. Duffy flirted with a no hitter on a few different occasions this season, which included three outings where he pitched six or more innings, while allowing two or less hits.

Unfortunately arm problems late in the season cost him a few key starts. Injuries also ultimately kept him out of the starting rotation in the postseason. If healthy for the entire season, Duffy could have been Kansas City's best starting pitcher this season.

Yordano Ventura *WINNER*

Regular Season: 3.20 ERA/1.295 WHIP/159 SO/69 BB/183 IP

Postseason: (As Starter) 2.52 ERA/1.200 WHIP/14 SO/9 BB/25 IP

Although Yordano Ventura is only a rookie, he pitched like an ace. There is no question that Ace Ventura was the Royals most consistent starting pitcher this season, as he pitched very efficiently in both the regular season and postseason. In fact, the Royals won all four of Ventura's postseason starts.

We can all talk about Ventura's ability to throw the ball extremely hard and how much potential his future holds. But perhaps his finest moment of the 2014 season was when he was able to overcome a rough Wild Card Game outing by coming back and dominating the rest of the postseason.

Most Outstanding Reliever Nominees:

Kelvin Herrera

Regular Season: 1.41 ERA/1.143 WHIP/59 SO/26 BB/70 IP

Postseason: 1.80 ERA/1.200 WHIP/16 SO /7 BB/15 IP

If there was an award for most improved reliever in the majors, Kelvin Herrera would have probably won it in 2014. Herrera's most significant improvement was in the homeruns allowed category. In 2013 he allowed nine homeruns over 58.1 innings. This season Herrera didn't allow a single base clearing shot in 70 innings. Herrera's ERA also improved nearly two and a half points from a year ago.

Kansas City's pitching staff was known for lighting up the radar gun this season. In fact, they threw more pitches of 97+ MPH than any other team in baseball. Of all the flamethrowers on the team, Herrera probably tops them all. Herrera came out of the bullpen consistently topping 100 MPH with his heater.

Greg Holland

Regular Season: 1.44 ERA/0.914 WHIP/90 SO/20 BB/62.1 IP

Postseason: 0.82 ERA/0.818 WHIP/15 SO/5 BB/11 IP

Greg Holland slammed the door on Royal opponents on 46 of his 48 save opportunities. Holland played the role of closer on the best three man reliever combo in MLB history.

No other team in MLB history had ever had two relievers with a 1.50 or better ERA. Kansas City changed that, when every member of the “Three-Headed Monster” achieved the feat in 2014.

Holland's consistent dominance helped him earn the first ever Mariano Rivera Award for best AL reliever.

Wade Davis *WINNER*

Regular Season: 1.00 ERA/0.847 WHIP/109 SO/23 BB/72 IP

Postseason: 0.63 ERA/0.697 WHIP/20 SO/2 BB/14.1 IP

It's hard to fathom the idea that a pitcher who won the Mariano Rivera Award may not even be the best reliever on his own team. Well you could certainly make the argument that Wade Davis was more consistent than the man who sealed the deal in the ninth inning for the Royals.

At one point in the season Davis was the only pitcher in baseball who pitched 40+ innings without allowing an extra base hit.

Davis is certainly what you would call a strikeout pitcher. This stud racked up 109 punch outs in only 72 innings of work. His ability to blow the ball by hitters propelled him to a season ERA of 1.00.

Davis was even more dominant in the postseason only allowing one run over 14.1 innings. If you watched his postseason appearances closely you would have noticed how exceptional his command was. For the most part he was literally putting the ball exactly where he wanted. Perez rarely had to move his glove.

Team MVP Nominees

Lorenzo Cain

Alex Gordon

Wade Davis

Yordano Ventura *WINNER*

Choosing a team MVP for the 2014 Kansas City Royals was extremely difficult. It was an all-around team effort that allowed this team to find success. There were so many players you can look at and say without that one individual, this team never would have made it to the playoffs. That’s how important every piece on this team was. But for the sake of argument, it’s always fun to have this debate.

With an offense that struggled for most of the season, the Royals proved that success starts with good starting pitching. There wasn’t a starting pitcher for Kansas City that demonstrated that more consistently than Yordano Ventura. Therefore, he is your 2014 Kansas City Royals team MVP.

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