Nicky Lopez capped off the 2021 season as the KC Royals’ breakout star.
When the 2021 major league season began, there weren’t many KC Royals fans who expected light-hitting Nicky Lopez to perform at a high overall level. His defense had always been excellent, but his bat wasn’t good at all.
Not surprisingly, Lopez’s defense turned out to be as good as ever. His .987 fielding percentage at shortstop, a position Adalberto Mondesi’s injuries forced him to play all season, led the American League, and his 371 assists and 77 double plays ranked fifth in the majors.
And if his Gold Glove caliber defense at an unexpected position didn’t surprise anyone, his hitting did when he finished the year slashing .300/.365/.378 with a .744 OPS, .347 BABIP, and 43 RBIs.
And he became the first Royals shortstop to ever hit .300 in a single season, a mark based on at least 502 plate appearances for the campaign.
Although Kings of Kauffman dubbed Lopez an under-the-radar performer at the season’s midpoint, it’s safe to assume he may not be that kind of player any longer. In fact, it seems he endeared himself to many Royals fans this season with his willingness to improve, and to refine and stay true to his strengths at the plate.
As revisiting our top three KC Royals midseason overperformers proves, Salvador Perez, Andrew Benintendi, and Nicky Lopez strengthened their good performances after the All-Star Break.