The Kansas City Royals 2023 season has not even begun yet, but expectations are either overly optimistic or particularly pessimistic. The Royals fanbase has become cynical over the past few years of poor performance. Previous leadership promised rebuilds and consequently built up a team for fans that had no chance of succeeding in the AL Central. It gets tiresome after a while, but the rookie wave last season gave die-hard Royals fans some hope again. Even the casual fans know the player leading that charge, shortstop Bobby Witt Jr.
KC Royals fans should expect another step forward by shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. in 2023.
Witt ended the season as the Royals' top rookie and finished fourth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. He became just the fifth rookie, 22 years old or younger, since 2000 to record 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases. The defense was highly suspect at shortstop, and the bat was not the most consistent throughout the 2022 season. But, new Royals manager Matt Quatraro thinks the former top prospect simply needs more reps and more MLB experience to keep progressing.
"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
As far as MLB accolades go, the next step for Witt to take is MVP. The writers at Call to the Pen do not predict Witt will win the AL MVP in 2023 but rather receive his first votes for the coveted award. In West Jones' bold prediction for the Royals, he called Witt "one of the bright stars of the game, who is sure to garner at least a few MVP votes." Jones uses defensive improvements, increased stolen bases, and a power jump to fuel Witt's next step.
"Bobby Witt, Jr. is not going to have a sophomore slump this season and will instead be even more electric than he was last year. A renewed focus on his defense during the offseason will lead to more consistent fielding that will pair well with his highlight reel plays from the left side of the infield."- West Jones, Call to the Pen
His closing thoughts will certainly ring true with longtime Kansas City fans, though.
"Again, the Royals will not be great record-wise, but should be fun to watch as the young players have a chance to play."- West Jones, Call to the Pen