KANSAS CITY -- Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain finished third in the American League Most Valuable Player Award voting -- behind winner Josh Donaldson of the Blue Jays and runner-up Mike Trout of the Angels -- as announced by the Baseball Writers' Association of America on Thursday night.
But Cain, who received 20 third-place votes, ultimately got to hold onto some hardware that trumps any other postseason award: The World Series trophy.
Most Royals officials, and manager Ned Yost, said often recently that for Cain to even be mentioned in the same sentence for MVP as Trout and Donaldson demonstrates Cain's evolution as a player.
AL MVP VOTING
Josh Donaldson, TOR
Mike Trout, LAA
Lorenzo Cain, KC
Manny Machado, BAL
Dallas Keuchel, HOU
Nelson Cruz, SEA
"Lorenzo has played a major role in the success of our team," general manager Dayton Moore said by phone. "He can impact a game with his ability to make plays on defense, on the bases and in the batter's box. He is a special all-around talent."
Cain experienced a breakthrough year in 2014 when he slashed .301/.339/.412 with five homers and 53 RBIs. But Cain crushed those numbers in '15.
Cain (.838 OPS, 16 homers, 72 RBIs) was the Royals' catalyst offensively. He led the team in steals (28), average (.307) and runs scored (101), and was second in OPS, doubles (tied with 34) and triples (six).
"I don't think we even know yet what his ceiling is," Yost said toward the end of the postseason.
Although Cain wasn't a finalist for a Rawlings Gold Glove Award -- a vote that baffled many, including Yost -- Cain's defense also propelled the Royals. Cain finished second among center fielders in Fangraphs' defensive runs saved (18) to Rays' Gold Glove winner Kevin Kiermaier (42).
Cain's season also was historically memorable. Only three players in franchise history had a season with at least a .300 average, 15 homers, 25 steals and 100 runs scored. Before Cain accomplished the feat this year, only Carlos Beltran (2001 and '03) and Johnny Damon (2000) achieved that rare line.
Cain, Trout (2012), Ian Kinsler (2008), Rickey Henderson (1990) and Paul Molitor (1987) are the only players to achieve those marks in a season in 140 games or fewer.
Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.