The left side of the infield is fueling Kansas City's recent offensive surge:
Leadoff hitter Maikel Garcia extended his Royals rookie hit streak record to 17 games with a 2-for-5 night and came through in the clutch with two outs in the fifth inning with an RBI single that loaded the bases for Witt.
“Every time I’m up now, there’s a runner on base,” Witt said. “Doing what he’s doing, it’s great. He’s going to continue to do that because he’s learning and getting better every day like we all are.”
Then Witt drove a low fastball from Emerson Hancock to the fountains for his second career grand slam. Since the beginning of June, Witt ranks sixth in the Majors with 3.3 wins above replacement (per FanGraphs) and is slashing .321/.364/.548 in that time.
Dan Szymborski breaks down Witt’s under-the-radar success:
Witt isn’t in the ultra-superstar tier yet, but his 2023 season has improved his projections to the point that he can legitimately be considered one of the default All-Star options at shortstop for the next five to seven years or so.
It’s not just his offense that’s taken a step forward; so has his defense, which was one of the sticking points in his profile as a prospect. It wasn’t a sure thing whether he’d be at short instead of third base long term; RAA (-7), DRS (-18) and UZR (-7) all hated his glove work last year, and his defensive numbers at third only grading out as “mediocre” was another negative data point. ZiPS is designed to be fairly conservative with the magnitude of its defensive projections for players with little experience, but it certainly thought that Witt was well below average defensively entering the season. But he’s improved by double digits in all the defensive metrics this season while exclusively playing short — enough that ZiPS thinks we should be confident now that he’s a league-average defender at the position, a noted improvement.
Jared Perkins at Just Baseball investigates Cole Ragans and changes to the team’s player acquisition process:
On top of that, the Royals weren’t known to target a guy like Ragans in previous trades. Oftentimes, they were acquiring prospects who weren’t quite major league ready yet. The Royals did their homework and evaluated underlying data and metrics that drew their interest in Ragans.
According to an article by the Kansas City Star, they “explored his medicals, strength and conditioning, nutrition, and mental health.”
What is most impressive about this is not only did they break down the data and evaluate him as an athlete, but they took a whole-person approach to the acquisition of Ragans. It’s not often that you hear a team diving into the entire person before acquiring them. The new approach by the Royals has paid dividends early on and he’s been exceeding their expectations.
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Your song of the day is Runaway (U & I) by Galantis.