Grading the 2021 KC Royals, Part 2: The outfielders

(Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images) /
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KC Royals, Michael A. Taylor
(Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports) /

“Stunning” best describes the different outfield look the KC Royals presented on Opening Day this season. Gone to retirement and replaced by offseason trade acquisition Andrew Benintendi was perennial Gold Glover Alex Gordon, the winter signing of Michael A. Taylor foretold the ultimate retirement of Bubba Starling, and rookie Kyle Isbel’s good Cactus League performance unexpectedly gave him right field.

Injuries, days off, and other circumstances forced occasional changes to that cast as the campaign wore on. The Royals sent Isbel back to the minors for more work, Edward Olivares was up and down from Omaha, Hunter Dozier drifted around the outfield as the club searched for a position he could settle into, and Jorge Soler and Jarrod Dyson took their turns before leaving for other teams.

How should these various KC outfielders grade out for the season?

Two newcomers to the KC Royals get the best outfield grades for 2021.

We at Kings of Kauffman recently gave Andrew Benintendi and Michael A. Taylor the top grades (an A for Benintendi, a B+ for Taylor) for the handful of Royals who joined or rejoined the team in 2021. Naturally, nothing has changed to require reconsideration of those marks, but a recap is in order.

Benintendi, for whom Kansas City gave up Franchy Cordero and Khalil Lee in a February three-team trade, received the only A in the group. Despite a slow start and a fractured rib that cost him significant playing time, Benintendi finished the season with 17 homers, 73 RBIs, and a .276 average in 134 games. He was especially good from the beginning of September until the season’s October end when he drove in 29 runs in 31 games and slashed .342/.398/.570.

And his defense? Good enough to land him a Gold Glove nomination.

Related Story. KC has 4 Gold Glove nominees. light

Taylor unsurprisingly joins Benintendi as a candidate for what could be his first Gold Glove. Center field became his in spring training and he proved worthy of the assignment, making only three errors all season. His 2.3 DWAR was the best among qualified American League center fielders and he paced the league with 19 Defensive Runs Saved.

His bat could be better, but Kansas City pays him more for his defense than his offense. He earned and retained a B+.