KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Royals announced their 2023 team award winners today, which were voted on by the Kansas City chapter of the BBWAA. Bobby Witt Jr. was unanimously named the Les Milgram Player of the Year and left hander Cole Ragans was named the Bruce Rice Pitcher of the Year. Maikel Garcia earned the Joe Burke Special Achievement Award.
Witt Jr., 23, is the first Royal to earn the Les Milgram Player of the Year Award in each of the first two seasons of his career, after he became the fourth rookie in club history to earn the honor in 2022. Among American League leaders in 2023, he ranked 2nd in stolen bases (49), 3rd in hits (177), tied for 3rd in total bases (317), tied for 7th in runs (97), 8th in extra-base hits (69) and tied for 9th in batting average (.276).
He became the first player in Royals history to record a 30-homer, 30-steal season, and he was just the seventh player in Major League history to go 30/30 in his age-23 season or younger. Only four players in Major League history matched his combination of 30 home runs and 49 stolen bases in a season, including Eric Davis (1987), Barry Bonds (1990), Mike Trout (2012) and Ronald Acuña Jr. (2023).
Witt Jr. led the Majors with 11 triples, which marked the most by a Royal since Carlos Beltrán had 12 triples in 2001. He became the sixth American League player in the last 75 years with at least 30 home runs and 10 triples in a season, following Joe DiMaggio (1950), Mickey Mantle (1955), Jim Rice (1977 and 1978), Nomar Garciaparra (1997) and Curtis Granderson (2011). Witt Jr. became just the fourth player with 30 homers, 30 steals and 10 triples in a season, following Ken Williams (1922), Willie Mays (1957) and Jimmy Rollins (2007).
Ragans, 25, emerged as Kansas City’s ace after being acquired from Texas on June 30 in a three-player trade that sent Aroldis Chapman to the Rangers. Over 12 starts with the Royals, Ragans went 5-2 and posted a 2.64 ERA (21 ER in 71.2 IP) with 89 strikeouts (11.2 K/9). From Aug. 1 through season’s end, he ranked 1st in the American League in strikeouts (86) and K/9 (11.6), 2nd in K% (32.3%), 4th in opponents’ OPS (.543) and 6th with a 2.70 ERA (20 ER in 66.2 IP). He produced a 2.3 fWAR during that two-month stretch, which led all Major League pitchers, ahead of Tarik Skubal (2.2), Spencer Strider (2.1) and Logan Webb (2.1).
Ragans was named the American League Pitcher of the Month for August, becoming the first Royals pitcher to win AL monthly honors since Zack Greinke in April 2009, the year he won the Cy Young Award. Ragans went 3-1 in 6 August starts with a Majors-best 1.72 ERA (7 ER in 36.2 IP) and 53 strikeouts, which were the 2nd most for any month in club history, trailing Royals Hall of Famer Dennis Leonard, who had 55 strikeouts in 59.1 innings in June 1977, the year he set the club’s single-season strikeout record (244).
Garcia, 23, opened the season with Triple-A Omaha before being recalled on May 2, after which he spent the remainder of the year with the Royals. Despite playing in just 123 games, he ranked among qualified American League rookies in nearly every offensive category, including batting average (3rd, .272), triples (T-3rd, 4), hits (4th, 126), stolen bases (4th, 23), walks (6th, 38), total bases (7th, 166), RBI (8th, 50), on-base percentage (9th, .323) and doubles (T-10th, 20).
Garcia ranked 2nd among all third basemen with 13 Outs Above Average (according to Baseball Savant), behind only Ke’Bryan Hayes (17). He ranked tied for 8th in the Majors at any position with 15 Outs Above Average, trailing leader Dansby Swanson (20).
In 64 games at Kauffman Stadium, Garcia slashed .313/.351/.417 (75-for-240) with 14 doubles, 4 triples, 32 RBI, 37 runs scored and 11 stolen bases. His .313 home batting average ranked 3rd in the American League, behind only Tampa Bay’s Yandy Díaz (.363) and Texas’ Corey Seager (.337).