Improved production at the designated hitter spot played a significant role in the Kansas City Royals’ rise to world champions. And first-year Royals DH Kendrys Morales wasn’t just better than Billy Butler had been in 2014; he was better than every other DH in baseball.
That distinction was made official Tuesday with Major League Baseball’s announcement that Morales has been voted the winner of the 2015 Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award.
Morales received 50 of 88 first-place votes to capture the honor for the first time in his nine-year career. Boston’s David Ortiz, a seven-time winner of the ODH Award, finished second.
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Morales joined two other Royals as winners of the ODH Award, Hal McRae (1976, 1980 and 1982) and Butler (2012). He also earned his first Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Award, becoming the eighth different Royal (George Brett, Willie Wilson, McRae, Frank White, Gary Gaetti, Dean Palmer and Butler) to accomplish the feat.
Among AL leaders, the 32-year-old finished the season tied for fourth in doubles (41), sixth in RBIs (106), 12th in on-base percentage (.362), 13th in slugging percentage (.485) and 16th in batting average (.290).
The switch-hitting slugger was a clutch hitter for the Royals. He led the AL and ranked second in the majors with 53 two-out RBIs. His total was the highest ever by a Royal, passing Joe Randa, who held the previous club record with 46 two-out RBIs in 2000. Morales finished the 2015 campaign with a .335 batting average in two-out situations, good for fourth in the AL, to go along with 18 doubles, a triple and 11 home runs. He became the first Royal to drive in over 100 runs in a season since Butler accounted for 107 RBIs in his All-Star season of 2012.
Ballots for the award are cast by club beat writers, broadcasters and AL public relations departments. All players with a minimum of 100 at-bats as a designated hitter are nominees.