I know what you are thinking. With how often the KC Royals broadcasters bring up shortstop Bobby Witt Jr.'s outs above average (OAA), he should be the favorite for a Gold Glove Award. Witt's defensive improvements have been one of Kansas City's best stories amidst another last-place season.
The KC Royals could have a perennial Gold Glover in Bobby Witt Jr.
Witt could be the Royals' first infield Gold Glove winner since 2017, and the first Kansas City shortstop to do so since Alciedes Escobar in 2015. Gold Gloves on the infield's left side are rare for the Royals franchise, but Frank White set the standard in Kansas City.
The question is, why should Witt win the American League's Gold Glove at shortstop?
Outs Above Average
This has been talked about time and time again, but it is hard to ignore. His 12 OAA is tied for the most among all AL shortstops and tied for the second most among AL infielder period. Chicago Cubs shortstop Dansby Swanson has built a historic OAA lead, totaling 20 OAA this season. But Witt's turnaround according to OAA is equally impressive.
Witt ranked 34th among MLB shortstops in his rookie campaign with -9 OAA. Only three other qualified shortstops were worse than Witt in that regard last year. He came up through the Royals system as a five-tool player, but the glove looked bad for the majority of 2022. Yet, for those who trusted the process the dividends showed in 2023.
Witt's 21 OAA difference from 2022 to 2023 is the largest swing and improvement among all MLB shortstops. The improvement cements that Witt has the tools, just needed some seasoning and experience at the MLB level.
I know that the Gold Glove is not a Most Improved Player award, but Witt's progression should be considered. He went from one of MLB's worst to best in a matter of a season. That should count for something and bolster his case.