Grading the 2021 KC Royals, Part 3: The infielders

(Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports) /
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KC Royals
(Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports) /

The KC Royals’ shortstop and second baseman get the best infield grades.

To give Nicky Lopez and Whit Merrifield anything less than an A apiece would be unspeakable. Not to worry, however—A’s are what they get for their outstanding 2021 seasons.

Lopez was, of course, a surprise. Only Mondesi’s first injury, and the club’s obvious reluctance to promote Bobby Witt Jr. too early, allowed him to break spring camp with Kansas City.

Lopez’s 2-for-4 Opening Day effort wasn’t enough to dispel concerns about his bat (he hit .240 in 2019 and .201 in 2020), but he eventually took care of the doubts as the season progressed. Batting only .227 at the end of May, he hit .333 in June, .338 in July, .317 in August, and .323 in September and October to finish at an even .300.

And his turnaround at the plate wasn’t the only stellar component of Lopez’s season. Despite being rejected for a Gold Glove nomination, his .998 fielding percentage was the best, and his seven errors the lowest, among qualified American League shortstops.

Merrifield also earned a Gold Glove nomination; he had the AL’s third best fielding percentage (.988) and a 1.5 dWAR. And he played every game, led the majors in at-bats and doubles, hit 10 homers and drove in 74 runs, and finished with a .277 average.

Next. Did 2 stats cost Salvy a Gold Glove?. dark

There you have our 2021 grades for the KC Royals’ infielders. We’ll soon be grading the starting pitchers and relievers.