Kansas City Royals

Gordon chosen KC's player of year

KANSAS CITY, Mo. —The awards keep coming for Royals left fielder Alex Gordon in recognition of a career-altering breakthrough season.

One day after receiving a Gold Glove for defensive excellence, Gordon was picked as the club's player of the year Wednesday in a vote by the Kansas City Chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

"Throughout the year," he said, "I just took every day at 100 percent on the practice field and in the game. It paid off a little bit. It's a great award to have. The thing is, this year, I felt there were four or five guys who could have won this award."

But the honor, known formally as the Les Milgram Player of the Year award, went to Gordon following a season in which he set numerous personal highs at the plate in addition to leading the majors with a club-record 20 outfield assists.

"I'm as pleased as I can be for Alex," manager Ned Yost said, "that he finally had the year that he knew he was capable of having — and that we knew he was capable of having.

"Alex is one of the few complete players I've ever seen. I mean the whole package. He's focused. He's prepared. He plays his heart out every single day, and he's incredibly talented and a great producer. He gives everything that he has every single day."

Gordon figures to reap a financial windfall from his breakout season. He is eligible for arbitration after making $1.4 million, but he and club officials have each expressed interest in discussing a multi-year contract.

"I know I'm still under contract for two years through arbitration," he said. "Whatever happens is going to happen, but I want to stay in Kansas City. I love it in Kansas City and, hopefully, we can get that done and move onto focusing on the season.

"I see myself playing for Kansas City for a while in my mind. Hopefully, that's what happens."

Gordon is the 25th player to win the Milgram award, which dates to 1971. The list of previous recipients includes seven players later inducted into the club's Hall of Fame. First baseman/designated hitter Billy Butler won the two previous years.

The award is named in memory of Les Milgram, a former president of Milgram Food Stores and a member of the Royals' first board of directors.

The award caps a remarkable year for Gordon and validated his uncharacteristically bold prediction that he would "dominate" in 2011. He made that boast in the closing days of the 2010 season — and it raised eyebrows.

Gordon was batting .233 at the time with 16 RBIs in 52 games since returning from Triple-A Omaha — and he later said he chose his words poorly. But the basic premise remained: He expected to have a breakout season.

"The dominate (quote) did come up a lot this year," he acknowledged. "I just came into this year motivated — not that I didn't before. But the previous two years, with injuries and being sent down, that drove me a little bit in the off-season to work even harder.

"I was hoping to go out there and play well, but I didn't have Royals' player of the year or Gold Glove on my mind. I just wanted to go into the season with a positive mind-set and knowing I could play well."

Gordon set career highs by batting .303 with 101 runs, 45 doubles, 23 homers, 87 RBIs and 17 steals. He also led the club with a .376 on-base percentage and a .502 slugging percentage.

Hosmer up for award — Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer is one of three finalists in the Players Choice Awards for the American League's Outstanding Rookie. The winner will be announced at 7 p.m. tonight in a live telecast on the MLB Network.

Tampa Bay pitcher Jeremy Hellickson and Los Angeles first baseman Mark Trumbo are also finalists in the player balloting conducted in September under the auspices of their union.

There are 10 categories for the awards, which date to 1992: An outstanding player, pitcher, rookie and comeback player in each league plus an overall player of the year. One player is also honored as the Marvin Miller Man of the Year for on-field and community achievements.

Hosmer is seeking to become the fourth Royals rookie to win the award. Bob Hamelin won in 1994, Carlos Beltran in 1999 and Angel Berroa in 2003. Other Royals winners: Mike Sweeney, Man of the Year, 2005; and Zack Greinke, AL pitcher, 2009.