2022 “Feel Good” No. 2: A pair of KC Royals rookies made the club proud.
The Royals blessed their fanbase with two things it wanted most this season—the major league debuts of Bobby Witt Jr. and Vinnie Pasquantino.
Neither player disappointed.
Witt began the season with Kansas City and collected his first big league hit and RBI by doubling off Cleveland’s Triston McKenzie Opening Day. And although he hit only .216 in April and didn’t homer until May 3, Witt finished the campaign with 20 homers, 80 RBIs, 30 stolen bases, 31 doubles, six triples, and a .254 average.
His .294 OBP and 30 bases on balls in 632 plate appearances mean he needs to walk more, and his glove needs work, but Witt’s other numbers render him an American League Rookie of the Year candidate.
Although the Royals’ obvious efforts to boost Carlos Santana’s midseason trade value kept Pasquantino out of the majors until a late June deal took Santana to Seattle, he fared quite well. Alternating between first base and DH, Pasquantino slashed .295/.383/.450 with 10 home runs, a 135 OPS+ and a 137 wRC+.
All things considered, the Royals’ top two rookies aren’t going anywhere. Expect Witt to start at either shortstop or third base and, depending on how—and if—first baseman Nick Pratto progresses, Pasquantino to start at first or become the club’s primary DH, in 2023.