In 2014-2015, the Kansas City Royals made it to the World Series for the second straight year. They got their happy ending in the 2015 World Series, defeating the New York Mets. It was the team’s second championship in franchise history, after winning in 1985.
Kansas City was happy. But it didn’t last long. For the team, it couldn’t last long. Kansas City couldn’t afford to hold onto the key players that made the championship happen. The championship team was soon dismantled, and Kansas City said goodbye to its hot streak.
In 2017, Kansas City’s five-game winning percentage collapsed (80-82), the beginning of another dark period. As high as they climbed, they fell even lower. In 2018, they faltered with 104 losses, followed by 103 losses in 2019. This year, they’re still fighting for last place overall with the Oakland Athletics (Kansas City’s winning percentage is .320, Oakland’s .279). Since 2018, Kansas City has the most losses in the majors.
Most losses since 2018
510 – Kansas City
495 – Detroit
494 – Baltimore
482 – Pittsburgh
Kansas City’s glory days may never return. A new core will have to emerge and gel, a task that requires a great deal of patience. The good news is that Bobby Witt Jr. is living up to expectations as the spearhead of that core. With three more hits on the 20th, Witt raised his season batting average to .281.
Key 2019 Draft Picks
- Adley Lurchman
- Bobby Witt Jr.
- Andrew Vaughn
- Alec Manoa
- Corbin Carroll
- George Kirby
- Gunner Henderson
Wiet, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 draft, finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting last year. He combined power and speed with 20 home runs and 30 doubles in 150 games. He was only the fifth rookie in Major League Baseball history to hit 20 homers and steal 30 bases. The last player to accomplish this feat was Mike Trout in 2012.
Rookie 20-Homer, 30-RBI Seasons
1966 – Tommy Agee (22 home runs, 44 doubles)
1977 – Mitchell Paige (21 home runs, 42 doubles)
1987 – Devon White (24 home runs, 32 doubles)
2012 – Mike Trout (30 home runs, 49 doubles)
2022 – Bobby Witt Jr. (20 home runs, 30 doubles)
*Corbin Carroll has 21 homers and 37 doubles this year.
Witt’s weaknesses are clear, with a disappointing walk/strikeout ratio. His poor walk rate contributed to a .294 on-base percentage. His 4.7% walk rate per at-bat was the seventh-lowest among regulars. Overly aggressive rookie hitters with poor plate discipline often hit a wall the following year. Witt was also in the category that I was very concerned about jinxing his sophomore year.
The prediction was not unfounded. Witt was batting just .228 through May. His 4.6 percent walk rate and 22.8 percent strikeout rate were nearly identical to last season’s numbers. Since the majority of his at-bats were singles, he couldn’t get on base when he wasn’t feeling it. As a result, his .266 OPS was the worst in the American League through May (Teoscar Hernandez was at .268, Ryan Mountcastle at .269).
It looked like Wiet was going to fizzle out, but that didn’t happen. After adjusting his hitting in June, he exploded in July.
Winning Percentage since July (FanGraphs.com)
3.0 – Bobby Witt Jr.
2.7 – Cody Bellinger
2.6 – Mookie Betts
2.6 – Julio Rodriguez
2.5 – Freddie Freeman
It’s not as if they’re striking out as much as they used to. Since July, their walk rate per at-bat is still around 4.5%. However, his strikeout rate is down to 15.7%. By focusing on contact more than before, he’s erased one of his weaknesses. His strategy of trying to win pitches before getting into unfavorable counts has also helped. Instead of focusing on what he couldn’t fix, he capitalized on what he could.
Witt’s offense is likely a result of a different mentality. Last year, it was his defense that held him back the most. In 825⅔ innings at shortstop, he committed a whopping 16 errors. His fielding percentage of 0.959 fell behind only Javier Baez (0.954) and Beau Bisset (0.958). His Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) was minus 18, last among shortstops, and his OAA, a measure of outs against average, was minus 9, just ahead of last among shortstops (J P Crawford OAA -11).
Witt, who was one of the worst defenders in the game on paper, has completely transformed this year. Last season he split time between shortstop and third base, but this year he’s been playing exclusively at shortstop. While his DRS is a disappointing minus-1, his plus-13 in OAA ranks second among all shortstops (Dansby Swanson +14). The confidence he’s regained in his defense has translated to his offense, resulting in a parallel rise in both offense and defense.
According to FOX Sports, Wiet hired a personal hitting instructor and an infield defense instructor last winter. While his 20 home runs and 30 doubles were extraordinary, he knew better than to be satisfied. Once he realized that the cause of his defensive errors was his first step, he learned how to read the direction of pitches. He didn’t stop training until his body responded immediately. He also worked on his mental game to overcome the trauma.
Unbeknownst to many, Witt had already grown as a player, which is why he was able to bounce back from his early offensive slump. Wiet, who still has blazing speed, completed his second straight 20-homer, 30-steal season (24 homers, 36 steals). He was the first player to reach the 20-homer, 30-steal mark in back-to-back seasons in his rookie year.온라인카지노
At the time of his draft, Witt was recognized as the son of Bobby Witt, a 16-year major league pitcher. As a prospect, he was compared to Mike Trout because of his batting form and playing style. While it’s an honor to have a major league father and be compared to the best players in the game, it’s also a lot of pressure. “It’s important to be yourself and stay centered,” Witt said.
So far, Witt’s season has been one of “progress on offense, reversal on defense. And it’s giving Kansas City fans something to smile about. It’s a ray of hope in the midst of despair.