KANSAS CITY, Mo.—The Kansas City Royals announced this afternoon that infielder Bobby Witt Jr. and left-handed pitcher Cole Ragans have been named Royals Player and Pitcher of the Month, respectively, for August. The awards are determined by a local media vote.
Witt Jr. led the club last month in batting average (.324), hits (36), extra-base hits (16), home runs (9), RBI (22), on-base pct. (.375), slugging pct. (.640) and OPS (1.015). He ranked among American League leaders in August in total bases (2nd, 71), home runs (T-2nd), extra-base hits (T-3rd), RBI (T-3rd), hits (T-4th), slugging pct. (7th) and OPS (9th). His 1.015 OPS was the highest mark by a Royal in the month of August since Jorge Soler posted a 1.079 OPS in 2019. Witt Jr. also became one of just five Royals with at least 16 extra-base hits in August since the start of 2000, following Johnny Damon (18 in 2000), Raύl Ibañez (17 in 2002), Hunter Dozier (16 in 2019) and Mark Teahen (16 in 2006). On Aug. 14 vs. Seattle, he hit the Royals 1st inside-the-park home run since 2019, and followed that performance with a grand slam on the following day—his 2nd slam of the season—becoming just the second Royal to ever hit an inside-the-park homer and a grand slam in back-to-back games, following Danny Tartabull in 1987. Just three days later, on Aug. 18, he hit a go-ahead, 2-run homer at Wrigley Field, which marked his 22nd home run as a shortstop this season, breaking a tie with Jay Bell (21 HR in 1997) for the franchise record at that position. Including his home run last night to open the month of September, he’s sitting at 28 home runs and 38 stolen bases for the season, and is just 2 home runs shy of becoming the first player in Royals history to record a 30-homer/30-steal campaign. This marks Witt Jr.’s third consecutive monthly honor and the fourth of his career. He’s the first Royals position player to win three straight awards within the same season since Soler earned three straight from July-September 2019.
Ragans led the Majors last month with a 1.72 ERA (7 ER in 36.2 IP) and 53 strikeouts, and he ranked 1st in the American League in both K/9 (13.0) and K% (36.6%), trailing only Milwaukee’s Freddy Peralta (13.8 K/9, 40.0 K%) among Major League pitchers. Half of his 6 starts in August were scoreless and his performance on Aug. 29 vs. the Pirates—in which he threw 7.0 shutout innings—extended his scoreless streak to a career-high 15.0 innings spanning 2-plus starts, which is the 3rd longest active streak in the Majors behind relievers Raisel Iglesias (17.0 IP) and Bryan Abreu (16.2 IP). His 53 strikeouts in 36.2 innings last month marked the 2nd most for any month in franchise history, trailing only Royals Hall of Famer Dennis Leonard, who had 55 strikeouts in 59.1 innings in June 1977, the year he set the Royals single-season strikeout record (244). Ragans’ 13.0 K/9 and 36.6 K% were the highest rates by a pitcher (min. 5 starts) in any calendar month in franchise history, and his 1.72 ERA was the best mark by a Royal in August since Bret Saberhagen had a 1.58 ERA (10 ER in 57.0 IP) in August 1989, the year he won his second Cy Young Award. He recorded quality starts in 5 of his 6 outings last month, and his 3 wins were tied for the 4th most in the American League. This marks Ragans’ first career monthly honor after the Royals acquired him on June 30 in a trade with the Texas Rangers for left-handed pitcher Aroldis Chapman.