Kendrys claims first Silver Slugger Award

Designated hitter is eighth in Royals' history to earn the honor

Kendrys claims first Silver Slugger Award

The Royals heard plenty of criticism when they signed designated hitter Kendrys Morales to a two-year contract last offseason. Morales also was surely aware of what was written and said about his disappointing showing a year ago.

Morales held up his end of the bargain, returning to form as a dynamic run producer this past season and delivering a comeback story that culminated in an American League Silver Slugger Award on Thursday night. Morales took home the honor as the league's top DH, becoming the eighth player in Royals history to earn a Silver Slugger, presented by Louisville Slugger.

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"He's been a huge part of our success," general manager Dayton Moore said last month. "We knew when we acquired him that his demeanor and character would fit well. From a baseball standpoint, the ability to switch-hit and be a productive performer in the middle of our lineup was really important for us as well, and he hasn't disappointed us. He's been terrific for us."

Morales edged out the likes of sluggers David Ortiz of the Red Sox and Edwin Encarnacion of the Blue Jays for the Silver Slugger, which was voted on by Major League managers and coaches. A variety of statistics were taken into account, along with the opinions of the players by the voting body.

Other Silver Slugger winners in the AL included Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts, Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson and Yankees catcher Brian McCann, along with outfielders Mike Trout (Angels), Nelson Cruz (Mariners) and J.D. Martinez (Tigers).

In 158 games for the World Series-champion Royals, Morales turned in a .290/.362/.485 slash line to go along with 22 homers, 41 doubles and 106 RBIs. His 53 two-out RBIs ranked first in the AL and second in the Major Leagues, and established a single-season franchise record, too. In the playoffs, the switch-hitter clubbed four homers, including two in Game 1 of the AL Division Series against the Astros.

During the regular season, Morales became only the sixth Royals player to enjoy a season with at least 20 homers, 40 doubles, 100 RBIs and an OPS of .840 or higher. The others on that short list include Carlos Beltran (2002), Jermaine Dye (1999-2000), Mike Sweeney ('99), Hal McRae ('82) and George Brett (1979, '88).

"Things have been working out well for me," Morales was quoted as saying last month. "My swing is there, and I'm feeling good at the plate. I don't think anybody expected me to have this type of season, especially after such a bad year last year. I'm healthy and I worked hard for this."

During the 2014 campaign, which Morales split between stints with the Twins and Mariners, he hit only .218 with eight home runs and 42 RBIs. Morales missed the first three months of the season after turning down a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer from Seattle. The lack of a normal Spring Training contributed to a slow start after he eventually signed with Minnesota, which later traded him back to the Mariners.

One year later, Morales has joined Billy Butler ('12), Dean Palmer ('98), Gary Gaetti ('95), Frank White ('86), McRae ('82), Willie Wilson ('80 and '82) and Brett ('80, '85 and '88) on Kansas City's list of Silver Slugger Award recipients.

"It's kind of what we hoped for when we signed him, to bring a power component to the lineup, an RBI guy," manager Ned Yost said in September. "For him to bounce back after a couple of pretty tough years is phenomenal."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.