Royals team awards go to Merrifield, Keller, Mondesi
Merrifield was named the Les Milgram Player of the Year, Keller the Bruce Rice Pitcher of the Year and Mondesi the Joe Burke Special Achievement Award winner. The selections were based on voting at the end of last season by the Kansas City Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Merrifield, an infielder/outfielder, led the big leagues with 192 hits and 45 stolen bases last season, making him only the third player since World War II to pace the majors in both categories (Dee Gordon, 2015; Ichiro Suzuki, 2001). The 29-year-old batted .304 with 43 doubles, three triples, 12 homers and 88 runs scored and finished the season with a career-best 20-game hitting streak, the longest in the majors in 2018.
Keller, 23, made his big-league debut in 2018 and is the youngest pitcher to win the Bruce Rice award since Zack Greinke (20) in 2004. The right-hander went 9-6 in 41 games (20 starts) and finished eighth in the American League with a 3.08 ERA, which was tops among AL rookies.
Mondesi, 23, produced some incredible numbers last season after opening the season on the disabled list (shoulder), making his season debut June 17 and playing in only 75 games (275 at-bats). The infielder batted .276 with 13 doubles, three triples, 14 homers, 47 runs and 32 stolen bases. No player in major league history has ever recorded as many homers and steals in 75 games or fewer, and his stolen-base total ranked fourth in the league.