The Royals certainly didn’t have a good season, but they did show they could play some defense this year. As a team, the Royals are fourth in baseball in Defensive Runs Above Average and Bobby Witt Jr., Maikel Garcia, and Kyle Isbel are among the leaders in Outs Above Average. Here are some of the top Royals defensive plays in 2023.
April 4 vs. the Blue Jays - Bobby’s catch
Bobby struggled defensively in his rookie season, but some hard work and coaching dramatically improved his results at shortstop. The second-year player showed impressive range, and it was evident in the first week of the season on a pop fly hit by George Springer to shallow left. Bobby sprinted out and laid out for the ball for an amazing catch.
April 18 vs. the Rangers - MJ’s diving catch
MJ Melendez is a catcher and that showed for most of his starts in the outfield. But he did look good on occasion, showing his athleticism. In April he showed his range by running far to catch a slicing fly ball, sprawling out to rob Marcus Semien of extra bases.
August 6 vs. the Phillies - Massey flips to Maikel
The young infielders seemed to be working on the same brain wavelength much of the year, meshing together to form a formidable defense. On an August game against the Phillies, Michael Massey dove for a ball and rather than take time getting up, he quickly flipped it to Maikel Garcia, who threw to first for the out. It was a play Massey would pair with Bobby Witt Jr. against the Athletics a few weeks later.
August 25 vs. the Mariners - Isbel’s catch
The Royals gave Isbel the starting centerfielder’s job based on his defense - he led the league in getting a jump on fly balls. He had a terrific season with the glove, exemplified by a late August game when Josh Rojas laced a drive to deep left center off Brady Singer. Isbel had a long way to run, but jumped to make the catch, depriving Rojas of extra bases.
September 9 vs. the Blue Jays - Bobby’s barehand
George Springer would again be victim to Bobby’s defense in a September game, when he hit an infield chopper. Springer can still get down the line pretty well, giving Bobby little time to get the out. But Bobby snatched the ball out of the air with his bare hand, and fired to first to get Springer.
September 9 vs. the Blue Jays - Massey flips to Bobby again
By September, Michael Massey and Bobby Witt Jr. had perfected their flip-and-throw play. In a game against the Blue Jays, Massey went up the middle for a chopper hit by Vlad Guerrero Jr. His flip to Bobby was a bit low, but Witt collected himself and fired a bullet to first to get Vlad.
What was the best Royals defensive play of 2023?
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Massey flips to Bobby against the Phillies
Massey flips to Bobby again vs. the Blue Jays