The KC Royals entered the last day of the 2023 season on the ugly edge of setting a new franchise record for ineptitude. Facing the Yankees at Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City was a defeat away from becoming the losingest Royals team ever.
Fortunately, the Royals beat New York that day; avoided was a dreaded 107th loss that would have snapped the 2005 club's 106-defeat mark. Tying the record is bad enough, breaking it would have been worse.
Losing so often and so much doesn't mean, though, that the 2023 Royals were bereft of good individual performances. Far from it. Cole Ragans arrived from Texas via the Aroldis Chapman trade and became KC's best pitcher. Like Ragans, Nelson Velázquez came to the team in a trade and was stellar down the stretch. And despite a late-campaign finger fracture, catcher Freddy Fermin starred behind the plate. Other Royals also had decent seasons.
Nevertheless, no awards have come the Royals' way. Despite some important American League-leading defensive numbers, Bobby Witt Jr. and Maikel Garcia weren't even nominated for Gold Gloves and Garcia didn't make MLB Pipeline's 2023 All-Rookie Team. And although it's based heavily on off-field contributions, Salvador Perez was nominated for, but didn't win, the coveted Roberto Clemente Award.
Can the latest pair of Kansas City award nominees break through?
Bobby Witt Jr. and Salvador Perez are up for 2023 Silver Sluggers
Nominees for this season's Silver Slugger Award were announced Monday, and Witt and Perez are both in the running on the American League side.
Witt, who became the first 30-30 plater in Royals' history by slugging 30 homers and stealing 49 bases, is competing with World Series MVP Corey Seager (Texas) and J.P. Crawford (Seattle). Witt's 11 triples were the most in the majors, and he smacked 28 doubles, drove in 96 runs, and hit .276.
Perez, already winner of a club record four Silver Sluggers, joins Baltimore's Adley Rutschman and Seattle's Cal Raleigh as AL catching finalists. The eight-time All-Star backstop had a productive season at the plate with 23 homers, 21 doubles, and 80 RBIs.
Two former Royals, Toronto's Whit Merrifield (AL utility) and Miami's Jorge Soler (NL DH) are also finalists.
Winners will be annlounced Nov. 9.