The Royals today announced the winners of the Les Milgram (Player of the Year) award and the Bruce Rice (Pitcher of the Year) award. The awards are voted on by the Kansas City chapter of the Baseball Writers of America.
For the first time ever, both awards were given to rookies. Not surprisingly, the Pitcher of the Year went to Zack Greinke. Grienke was called up in May to help the Royals' decimated staff. He went on to impress all with his control and uncanny ability to change speeds. He threw everything from a 92 MPH fast ball to a 50 MPH eephus pitch. He also annoyed a few batters by quick pitching them.
Greinke ended the season 8-11 with a 3.97 ERA, the best among the starters. He was hurt early with a lack of run support, but finished the season 6-3 in his last 12 starts.
In a surprise vote (for me at least), the Player of the Year award went to David DeJesus. DeJesus was called up early in the season when Aaron Guiel was suffering from vision problems. Playing alongside Carlos Beltran in left field, DeJesus had a terrible stint in KC, going 1-23 (.043).
He returned to Omaha to get back on track, and returned to KC for good on June 24, after the Royals dealt Beltran to the Astros. Since returning, DeJesus batted .303 and ended the season with a 15 game hitting streak. Following Beltran in center isn’t easy, but DeJesus held his own defensively.
It is telling that neither winner was on the roster on Opening Day. If you had to guess who the Player of the Year would be when the season started, I’m sure Juan Gonzalez or Mike Sweeney or even Carlos Beltran would have come to mind. As for pitchers, I think everybody was expecting big things from Jeremy Affeldt or Brian Anderson.
The good news is that both Greinke and DeJesus will be back in 2005 and neither will be a far-too-expensive free agent for several years. We fans in KC will get to enjoy them for a while at least.