The Royals captured our hearts and a championship with a team that could pick it, lapping the league on defense with amazing ballhawks in the outfield, and dazzling plays on the infield. This year’s team had mixed results defensively overall, but they definitely had some talented defenders who were worthy of a defensive highlight or two.
Here are the top Royals defensive plays in 2022.
April 7 vs. Cleveland - Bobby Witt throws out a runner at home in his second game
Royals fans were hyped to see the MLB debut of phenom Bobby Witt Jr. and he did not disappoint in his first series. He had the game-winning hit against Cleveland on Opening Day, and in his second game he made a game-saving play. Cleveland had a runner at third in the tenth inning of a 0-0 game with just one out. Oscar Mercado hit a grounder down the line that looked to score a run. But Witt speared it and threw off balance to home so quickly he was able to get Owen Miller out at home, preserving the tie and allowing the Royals to win it in the bottom of the inning.
May 2 vs. St. Louis - Michael Taylor robs Andrew Knizer of a home run
Michael A. Taylor is a Gold Glover. You know it, I know it, the American people know it. He won a Gold Glove last year, and is in a great position to win it again this year, leading all American League outfielders with +19 Defensive Runs Saved. But if nerdy stats don’t convince you, check out this home-run-saving catch Taylor made on May 2 against Cardinals catcher Andrew Knizer.
Brilliance from @Taylor_Michael3!#TogetherRoyal pic.twitter.com/1b3GGnBAOn— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) May 2, 2022
June 10 vs. Baltimore - Sheriff Sal gets his man
Salvador Perez is a five-time Gold Glover for a reason - that gun for an arm he carries. Even at his age, his arm can be dangerous, as Orioles outfielder Cedric Mullins learned when he tried to bunt for a hit. Salvy dashed out from behind the plate and fired a strike to first, because Sheriff Sal always gets the bad guy.
June 25 vs. Oakland - Bobby Witt Jr. channels Derek Jeter
Bobby Witt Jr. was Jeteresque defensive in many regards - as a defender who looks great on occasion, who doesn’t fare well with the metrics. For Witt, however, the issues seem to be the occasional error, rather than a lack of range. And he put his range on full display against the A’s with jump-throw that would have earned the re2pect of Derek Jeter.
Bobby Witt Jr looking Jeteresque. pic.twitter.com/2n7BAj23mJ— Joel Goldberg (@goldbergkc) June 25, 2022
August 14 vs. Los Angeles Dodges - Nate Eaton lays out
Nate Eaton kinda epitomized the hustle and drive of the young kids once they were called up. He played every position the Royals asked him to and ran with reckless abandon, like this diving catch he made on August 14 against the Dodgers, which helped end their 12-game win streak.
August 19 vs. Tampa Bay - MJ Melendez ends it with a diving catch
Catchers aren’t supposed to just move to the outfield, but MJ Melendez was athletic enough to make it work at times. On August 19 he not only showed off his outfield chops, but came up big in a clutch situation - with the game on the line. The Royals clung to a 3-2 lead against Tampa Bay, but it was Melendez who came up with a diving catch to rob Francisco Mejia of a hit for the final out of the game.
August 22 vs. Chicago - Michael Massey snares a line drive
Michael Massey won a Gold Glove in the minor leagues, and he showed that was no fluke once he reached the big leagues. On August 22, Yoan Moncada laced a line drive up the middle just past the head of Daniel Lynch that had an expected batting average of .600. But those analytics didn’t count on the reflexes of Massey, who laid out to snatch the liner for the final out of the inning.
September 4 vs. Detroit - Collin Snider kick save to Bobby Witt Jr.
The Royals seemed to gel as a team in the second half, and perhaps that’s why they were able to connect on a highlight reel play on September 4 against the Tigers. Victor Reyes laced a liner back at pitcher Collin Snider, striking him in the foot. The ball popped up in the air, but third baseman Bobby Witt Jr. was aware enough to grab the ball bare-handed and make the throw to first to nab Reyes. Teamwork makes the dream work.
What was the best Royals defensive play of 2022?
This poll is closed
Bobby Witt Jr. throw home against Cleveland
Michael A. Taylor robs home run in St. Louis
Salvador Perez guns down Cedric Mullins
Bobby Witt Jr. jump-throw
Nate Eaton lays out
MJ Melendez catch ends it
Michael Massey snares a line drive
Bobby Witt Jr. kick-save