KC Royals have 4 Gold Glove nominees and 1 snub

(Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports) /

Four KC Royals were among the Rawlings Gold Glove nominees announced Thursday afternoon.

One slick-fielding Royal was not.

Three Royals we identified in August as the club’s top Gold Glove candidates—catcher Salvador Perez, center fielder Michael A. Taylor, and second baseman Whit Merrifield—made the final list of candidates; left fielder Andrew Benintendi joins them, but Nicky Lopez, who we thought would make it at shortstop, didn’t.

Gold Gloves are awarded annually to the best fielders at each position in both leagues.

Let’s take a look at Kansas City’s candidates, and the Royal who got snubbed. (ESPN is the source for player statistics used in this story).

KC Royals backstop Salvador Perez is up for his sixth Gold Glove Award.

Naturally, Salvador Perez received a Gold Glove nomination. And why shouldn’t he after the fantastic 2021 season he had?

Already a five-time recipient of the award, Perez’s .998 fielding percentage led American League catchers. He also was first in the majors with 61 assists, 12 double plays, and a superb 43.9 caught-stealing percentage. He had a 1.2 DWAR.

Although it seems Perez is primed to win his sixth Gold Glove, he has decent defensive competition from Sean Murphy of the A’s, who is seeking his first Gold Glove, and former Royal Martin Maldonado of the Astros, who looks to add a second.

Michael A. Taylor’s nomination comes in his first season with the KC Royals.

Michael A. Taylor is known more for his defensive prowess than his bat. Although he hit only .239 this season, he had the third best fielding percentage among qualified American League center fielders at .992. He also led them with 11 assists, three double plays turned, and a 2.3 DWAR.

It may come as a surprise to discover that Taylor has yet to win a Gold Glove. He could snatch his first one for his performance this season, although he’ll get stiff competition from the Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier and Myles Straw (who split time with Houston and Cleveland), who finished first and second in AL fielding percentage (.996, .995).

Second baseman Whit Merrifield could win his first Gold Glove award.

Though he’s led the majors in hits twice and stolen bases once, the American League in stolen bases three times, and is a two-time All-Star, Whit Merrifield has never won a Gold Glove. He’s up against David Fletcher of the Angels and Marcus Semien of the Blue Jays.

Merrifield placed third in the American League with a .988 fielding percentage, two points behind Fletcher’s .990. However, Merrifield led the AL with 103 double plays turned, 382 assists, and 283 putouts. Among the three Gold Glove second base candidates, Merrifield’s 1.5 DWAR trailed Fletcher’s 2.0 and Semien’s 1.7.

Having played six seasons in the majors, and being a superb defender at multiple positions, it will be intriguing to see if Merrifield locks up the first Gold Glove of his career.

Andrew Benintendi has been an excellent left fielder for the KC Royals.

Like teammates Taylor and Merrifield, Andrew Benintendi has never secured a Gold Glove. But in his first season with Kansas City after coming to the Royals in an offseason trade, he’s proved to be a good replacement for Alex Gordon in left field.

Gordon was a stout defender, having earned eight Gold Gloves to tie him with Frank White for the most ever won by a Royal, but Benintendi could also start making a name for himself as a defensively-gifted Kansas City left fielder by winning the award. However, he’ll have solid competition from the Rays’ Randy Arozarena and Toronto’s Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

Of the three candidates, Benintendi finished second to Arozarena’s .991 with a .987 fielding percentage, and to Gurriel’s 12 with six assists. But because his 225 putouts and 0.3 DWAR led qualified American League left fielders, it could be a close race.

One KC Royals defender was snubbed in the 2021 Gold Glove nominations.

Houston’s Carlos Correa, Seattle’s J.P. Crawford, and Minnesota’s Andrelton Simmons are this season’s Gold Glove shortstop nominees.

Kansas City’s Nicky Lopez was arguably snubbed.

Lopez, of course, managed to turn his game around in 2021 and became the first Kansas City shortstop to ever hit .300 in a single season. However, he also proved to be a pivotal defender at short despite not having been expected to play there when the season began.

Lopez led all American League shortstops with a .998 fielding percentage, committed the fewest number of errors (7) of qualified shortstops, and was third with 77 double plays and fourth with 371 assists. He also had a 1.4 DWAR.

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Salvador Perez, Michael A. Taylor, Whit Merrifield, and Andrew Benintendi have all been nominated for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award, but shortstop Nicky Lopez was not.