Better: Shortstop Bobby Witt Jr.
FanGraphs Projections: 149 games, .775 OPS, 113 wRC+, 3.5 WAR
There is no member of the Royals' young core than infielder Bobby Witt Jr. After a rocky 2022 season, the uber talented Witt has room for improvement.
The blue-chip prospect is pegged as the franchise's savior and best prospect since the 2010s. His rookie performance at the plate was far from awful, with 20 HRs and 30 SBs while posting a .722 OPS. His suspect defense, which was supposed to be Witt's bread and butter, caused fans concern, though. He was one of baseball's worst defensive shortstops in 2022, according to Baseball Savant. It is a valid concern amongst fans, and new Royals manager Matt Quatraro has already focused on Witt's defensive shortcomings.
"“I think there was some technique things — footwork, body position. I think really it just came down to reps, and I think getting more reps at the big-league level is going to be the thing that helps him the most.”"- Royals manager Matt Quatraro
The Royals have committed to Witt staying at shortstop in 2023, despite calls for him to move to third base. The fact is that Witt was a slightly better defender at third base, while addressing one of Kansas City's weakest positions. Maikely Garcia has the pedigree and skill to be Kansas City's everyday shortstop, but Witt's insistence upon being shortstop will block Garcia every step.
Witt has a lot of room for improvement, no matter what defensive position he plays. He quickly started field drills with new infield coach José Alguacil via FaceTime videos. The 22-year-old's persistence is showing after his MLB debut last year. He has not abandoned his desire to play shortstop for the Royals, a position he has held for the majority of his baseball career. The organization's show of confidence must prove something about Witt's offseason improvements.
"“I think his defense will get better. I think being at one position is going to be a big bonus for him.”"- Royals manager Matt Quatraro