KANSAS CITY, Mo.—The Kansas City Royals announced their 2022 team award winners today, which were voted on by the Kansas City Chapter of the BBWAA. Bobby Witt Jr. was named the Les Milgram Player of the Year and right hander Brady Singer was named the Bruce Rice Pitcher of the Year. Salvador Perez was named the Joe Burke Special Achievement Award winner after winning Player of the Year each of the previous two seasons (2020-21).
Witt Jr., 22, is the fourth rookie to win the Les Milgram Player of the Year Award since it was first established in 1971. The previous three rookies to win the award include Bob Hamelin in 1994, David DeJesus in 2004 and Mike Aviles in 2008. Despite being the youngest player in Royals history to make his Major League debut on Opening Day in 2022, Witt Jr. led the team in games played (150), runs (82), hits (150), doubles (31), triples (6), RBI (80) and stolen bases (30), and ranked 2nd in home runs (20), trailing only Perez’s 23.
His 80 RBI were the most by a first-year player since Pete Alonso had 120 in 2019 and were the most by an American League first-year player since José Abreu had 107 in 2014. He was also one of six players in the Majors in 2022 to record at least 30 stolen bases. That made Witt Jr. the first player in the Live Ball Era (since 1920) to record at least 80 RBI and 30 steals in his first big league season.
Witt Jr. became just the fifth player in Royals history to record a season of at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases, following Jeff Francoeur (2011), Carlos Beltrán (1999, 2001-03), Bo Jackson (1988-89) and Amos Otis (1978), and he was one of two players in the Majors in 2022 with at least 20 home runs and 30 stolen bases, along with Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena. He was just the fifth player in the last 49 years with 20 homers and 30 steals in his age-22 season or younger, joining an exclusive list that includes Ronald Acuña Jr. (2019), Mike Trout (2012-13), Álex Rodríguez (1998) and Barry Bonds (1987).
Singer, 26, went 10-5 with a 3.23 ERA (55 ER in 153.1 IP) in 27 appearances (24 starts), earning the most wins by a Royals pitcher since Jason Vargas tied for the Majors lead with 18 wins in 2017. Singer’s ERA was the 5th best by a Royal (min. 150.0 IP) in the Wild Card Era (since 1995), trailing only Zack Greinke in his 2009 Cy Young Award-winning season (2.16), James Shields in 2013 (3.15) and 2014 (3.21) and Yordano Ventura in 2014 (3.20). The last Royal with a lower ERA than Singer’s and a higher win percentage (.667) was David Cone during his 1994 Cy Young Award-winning season, in which he went 16-5 (.762) with a 2.94 ERA (56 ER in 17.12 IP).
Singer made 24 starts and in 7 of them (29.2%), he recorded at least 7.0 innings and allowed 1 run or fewer, which tied for the 4th-most such starts in the American League in 2022, trailing only Martín Pérez (9), Justin Verlander (8) and Shohei Ohtani (8). He recorded a career-high 12 strikeouts on July 23 vs. Tampa Bay, a game in which he did not allow a hit until the 6th inning. He followed that start with 10 strikeouts over 7.0 scoreless innings—and just 1 hit allowed—on July 28 at Yankee Stadium, becoming the seventh Royal with back-to-back 10-strikeout starts and the first in five years.
Perez, 32, led the Royals with 23 home runs in 2022 for the third consecutive season, after matching the Majors lead and the single-season franchise-record with 48 homers in 2021, and leading the club with 11 home runs in just 37 games during the shortened 2020 season. He’s the third player in Royals history to lead the team in homers in at least three consecutive seasons, following John Mayberry, who did it in four straight seasons from 1972-75, and Steve Balboni, who did it in three straight years from 1984-86.
Perez led the Royals in homers in 2022 despite playing in only 114 games. He was twice placed on the Injured List due to a thumb injury, and despite undergoing thumb surgery in late June, he returned a month later and recorded 5 home runs and 14 RBI in his first eight games off the IL. He batted .297 (66-for-222) in 57 games following his second stint on the IL and ended his season on Oct. 1 with a 4-hit game in Cleveland. His final hit in that game was the 1,274th of his career, breaking a tie with Billy Butler for 8th most in Royals history.
In addition to hits, Salvy ended the 2022 season among the Royals top 10 in several offensive categories, including home runs (223, 2nd), RBI (732, 7th), extra-base hits (470, 7th), games played (1,254, 8th) and doubles (236, 9th).