KC Royals: Who are the club’s top Gold Glove candidates?

(Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images) /
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KC Royals, Nicky Lopez
(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

Nicky Lopez’s glove stands out atop his amazing year for the KC Royals.

Nicky Lopez has been quite a Kansas City surprise this season. A poor spring training at the plate followed a bad 2020, but Lopez has since come into his own. His .292 average ranks first for the KC Royals and he’s hit .397 over his last 15 games. But for all of his offensive progress, Lopez’s defense has remained superb.

Not that there was ever a question about Lopez’s defense. He was a fantastic second baseman who had a .991 fielding percentage in 2020 and was even nominated for a Gold Glove. This season, Lopez looks to seal up that Gold Glove not as a second baseman, but as a shortstop.

Ever since Adalberto Mondesi’s oblique injuries sidelined him over the course of the season, Lopez has stepped up to the plate and made a name for himself. And being good on defense is one thing, but fielding as well as he has at a position he wasn’t thinking of playing in 2021 is something else.

Lopez leads American League shortstops with a .985 fielding percentage. He’s had 116 putouts and his 285 assists rank fourth in the AL. He has a range factor of 3.76, a DWAR of 1.2, and has helped turn 62 double plays on the year.

BaseballSavant gives him a 15 OAA at the shortstop position and ranks him in the 99th percentile. Though the American League is stacked at shortstop with names like Carlos Correa and Tim Anderson, Lopez just might be able to earn the first Gold Glove of his major league career.