KC Royals: Bobby Witt Jr. has historic finish in AL MVP race

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The KC Royals do not have much to be proud of following the 2023 season. But shortstop Bobby Witt Jr's ascent to MLB's elite echelon has to be the best outcome from this past season. That ascent was cemented via Thursday's AL MVP voting results, where Witt finished seventh amongst his AL peers.

Bobby Witt Jr. finish in the AL MVP voting comes after leaps and bounds for the KC Royals star.

The 23-year-old Witt became the first player in Royals history to join the 30/40 club by hitting 30 home runs and stealing 49 bases in 158 games this past season. Both those numbers, and Witt's 96 RBIs and 11 triples, led the 2023 Royals squad. His bat improved from his rookie campaign, but his defense at shortstop went from among the league's worst to the best. While Rawlings voters robbed Witt of a Gold Glove nomination, fans could see the improvements with their own eyes.

Those steps forward came together for Witt's 5.7 fWAR, the highest by a Royals player since Nicky Lopez in 2021. Witt ranked fifth among American League position players in the metric and 11th in the MLB overall. The votes for Witt are the first for any Royals player since 2021, where Salvador Perez finished seventh as well.

The MVP awards are decided by the Baseball Writers' Association of America members. The Kansas City chapter includes Kansas City Star's Pete Grathoff and The Associated Press' Dave Skreta. Grathoff placed Witt ninth in voting while Skretta placed Witt fifth on his ballot. The highest vote for Witt was fourth place, coming from CHGO's Vinnie Duber.

Here is how Witt's voting results broke down, according to MLB.com: 1 (4th), 4 (5th), 1 (6th), 3 (7th), 8 (8th), 3 (9th), 5 (10th) -- 83 points

Current free agent Shohei Ohtani won his second unanimous AL MVP award. The former Los Angeles Angels star is the offseason's biggest domino to fall, as he seeks possibly the largest free-agent contract in MLB history. On the NL side, Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuña Jr. won the NL MVP unanimously as well. This is his first award, but the fourth season he has received MVP votes in his six-year career.