KC Royals shortstop Nicky Lopez, stunningly and inexplicably left out of the Gold Glove race this year, couldn’t win the award for the best American League defensive player at his position Sunday night. That left four other Royals—Whit Merrifield, Andrew Benintendi, and Michael A. Taylor, none of whom had ever won a Gold Glove, and five-time winner Salvador Perez, as the only Kansas City players with shots to win.
Two out of four isn’t bad. Left fielder Benintendi and center fielder Taylor, newcomers to the Royals this season, won their first Gloves, while Merrifield didn’t and Perez now has to wait for his next opportunity to win his sixth.
All four Royal nominees were worthy of the award.
(The source for this story’s defensive statistics is ESPN).
Andrew Benintendi won the KC Royals’ fifth left field Gold Glove in a row.
Kansas City gave first-year Royal Andrew Benintendi two primary assignments this season: boost KC’s lineup with some new lefthanded pop and power, and do the best he could to replace Alex Gordon’s Gold Glove defense in left field.
He did both, hitting .276 with 17 homers and 73 RBIs, leading the AL’s qualified left fielders with an 0.3 dWAR, and ranking second to fellow Gold Glove nominee Randy Arozarena (.991) in fielding percentage with .987.
And he extended Kansas City’s left field Gold Glove streak to five by winning his first Sunday evening—Gordon finished his stellar career by snaring four straight Gold Gloves before retiring after the 2020 season. (He won eight in all).
Benintendi is arbitration-eligible this winter. His Gold Glove will only increase his value, so look for the Royals to extend him.
KC Royals center fielder Michael A. Taylor isn’t a great hitter, but he’s a Gold Glover.
Michael A. Taylor has never been, and may never be, a good hitter. He brought a career .237 average to Kansas City when the Royals signed him to a one-year free agent deal last winter.
His glove work, though, is another story. Always an above-league average defender, he was again in 2021—his 2.3 dWAR and 11 assists topped qualified AL center fielders. That Taylor had never won a Gold Glove is a bit of a mystery. But that changed Sunday when he won his first.
Taylor is now entrenched in the Kansas City lineup—the Royals signed him for another two years before the 2021 season even ended. Will he add a second Gold Glove next year? Time will tell.
KC Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield doesn’t win first Gold Glove.
Although Merrifield’s .988 percentage ranked third among qualified American League second sackers and was three points better than Toronto’s Marcus Semien, Semien won his first Gold Glove. Merrifield, who’ll enter the last year of his contract next season (not counting an option for 2023), led AL second basemen in putouts and assists, but his 1.5 dWAR trailed Semien’s 1.7, which interestingly trailed AL leader and remaining second base nominee David Fletcher’s 2.0.
Whether Merrifield gets another opportunity to win Gold at second base depends on where the Royals choose to play their most versatile player in the future. Nicky Lopez, Adalberto Mondesi and Bobby Witt Jr. could provide enough infield depth to allow the club to finally move Merrifield to right field in 2022.
KC Royals catcher Salvador Perez must now wait for another Gold Glove.
Salvador Perez, hoping to expand his collection of Gold Gloves to six, had the best AL catching fielding percentage and threw out more would-be base stealers than any other major league catcher. He also paced the big leagues in assists and double plays.
But he didn’t win that sixth Glove Sunday. Instead, the voters chose Oakland’s Sean Murphy instead. It was a curious selection—although his 1.3 dWAR edged Perez’s 1.2, his .993 fielding percentage fell short of Perez’s league-leading .998, his 24.1 caught stealing percentage paled in comparison to Perez’s 43.9, and he made three times as many errors (six) as Perez’s two.
So, Perez’s quest for six Gold Gloves continues. Don’t bet against him next year.
Kansas City outfielders Andrew Benintendi and Michal A. Taylor won their first Gold Gloves Sunday night. Unfortunately, Salvador Perez didn’t win his sixth, and Whit Merrifield didn’t win his first.