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Here's Why Bobby Witt Jr. Is Worth His Contract

Bobby Witt Jr., a 24-year-old shortstop, has been signed by the Kansas City Royals to an 11-year contract with a guaranteed $288.7 million, with possibilities that may extend that term to 14 years and $377.7 million. The Royals are trying to make Witt the cornerstone of their team.


For the young superstar on the rise, it's an enormous contract that has the potential to be the third-largest in terms of overall value in MLB history, behind Mike Trout's current $426.5 million contract with the Angels and Shohei Ohtani's new $700 million deal with the Dodgers.


Early-Career Numbers

The 30-49 season comes first. There are just five instances of it in the history of MLB: Eric Davis in 1987, Barry Bonds in 1990, Mike Trout in 2012, and Bobby Witt Jr and Ronald Acuña Jr. in 2023. Secondly, in his first two seasons of play, he had 79 steals and 50 home runs. The only player to ever have done that is Witt Jr.


Witt is one of only three players to finish their first two seasons with 50 steals and 50 homers. One is Seattle's J-Rod, who may challenge Witt to be the AL's best player for the next ten years. Acuña is the other. And this contract will be well worth the money if Witt becomes another Ronald Acuña Jr. for the Royals.


The third thing that comes to mind when considering Witt Jr.'s early career is playing shortstop for a 30-30 season. In MLB history, there have only been six instances: 1996 with Barry Larkin, 1998 with Alex Rodriguez, 2007 with Jimmy Rollins, 2008 with Hanley Ramirez, and 2023 with Francisco Lindor and Bobby Witt Jr.


Witt is in fantastic company, regardless of how you look at his numbers, and he still has his whole prime time ahead of him.

Underlying Skill Set

Witt's skill set is much more impressive than his stats. His talent is one of a kind, and he has the potential to become a five-tool superstar. That player has contact, strength, speed, glove, and arm.


He prioritizes speed. It is at the very top. With an average speed of 30.5 feet per second, which tied him for first place with Elly De La Cruz, Witt was the fastest player in the Major Leagues last season. A sprint speed of 30 feet per second or less is considered exceptional in the MLB. Witt was the only player to reach that top mark with 149 solo runs.


His bat, though, is right behind. Witt was an exceptionally strong contact and power hitter in 2023; according to Statcast, he was in the top 5% of MLB batters with an anticipated batting average of .294 and a predicted slugging percentage of .533. To become a more reliable and versatile hitter, he decreased his strikeout rate to 17.4% while significantly increasing his hard-hit rate to 45.6% and barrel rate to 11.5%.


And his glove, of course. From 2022 to 2023, Witt improved dramatically on the field, becoming one of baseball's best defensive shortstops. He ranked fifth among shortstops and barely outside the top 10 of all MLB fielders with +14 Outs Above Average. To complete his five-tool profile, Witt's shortstop arm strength (88.6 mph) placed in the top quarter of the league.


Witt is the kind of player the Royals haven't had in a while. He's the kind of player that Major League Baseball teams rarely see. That's why he was awarded this contract, and he'll be worth every penny.

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