2013 Season Review: Second base

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The horror, the horror.

Second base has been a problem for the Kansas City Royals for years, and 2013 was no different. This team received below-average production from second for most of the season, and tried out four* different players there during the year.

*I'm not counting Jamey Carroll and Johnny Giavotella, since both had less than 50 plate appearances in Kansas City.

This review only features three of the four players; I'm going to cheat and lump Miguel Tejada in at third base, since this post is already too long to begin with. The faint of heart need to proceed with caution, for the offensive numbers you are about to see may terrify.

Chris Getz - Getz has been on the Royals four seasons now. I realize that I mentioned this fact in an earlier article, but it continues to boggle the mind, so I'm mentioning it again.

His 2013 offensive campaign is the worst that he's ever had in a Royals uniform, which is kind of impressive, since he had already managed a 60 wRC+ in 2012.

Not everyone here is a sabermagician, so if you don't know the meaning for one of the statistics used or just want some context for it, click on the statistical category. It should take you to an explanation, occasionally long-winded, of the specific stat.

PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K%
237 .220 .288 .273 8.4% 10.1%
BABIP BsR woBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
.245 .146 251 52 -.1 .1

His on-base percentage was .288, and it was HIGHER than his slugging percentage. 237 plate appearances yielded 46 hits and eight extra-base hits. He did steal 16 bases in 19 chances, so that's nice.

Getz will almost certainly be better next season, but that's not exactly a compliment. Even if his BABIP bounces back closer to his career .283 number, he simply cannot drive the ball enough to hit at a league-average level.

Dayton Moore loves referring to Getz as a "mistake-free" player. Even if he doesn't make mistakes on the field, he doesn't contribute enough on defense to justify playing time:

GS UZR FRAA TZ RAA DRS RAA dWAR
62 3.0 2.4 5 5 0.8

Getz certainly didn't hurt the Royals with his defense, but he would need to perform at an Andrelton Simmons level to stick around as a utility player. He's not that good of a defender, so he can't compensate for his below-average offense and make himself anything other than a replacement player.

It's becoming a broken record at this point. People point out that Getz shouldn't be on the team. Getz returns anyways. Maybe this is the offseason Moore finally releases him to another team, but I won't hold my breath.

Elliot Johnson - He was the "Greatest PTBNL in the History of Whatever" for a little while, then forgot how to hit. Johnson looked like he could hold down the second base spot with really impressive defense and not awful hitting, but his offensive ability completely evaporated. Johnson's numbers do not include his time with the Atlanta Braves:

PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K%
173 .179 .218 .241 4.6% 28.3%
BABIP BsR woBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
.243 2.9 0.204 19 -.2 0.9

Tony Pena Jr. thinks Johnson had a bad season at the plate. 49 strikeouts compared to eight walks is bad for anyone, but really bad if you only manage five extra-base hits in that time frame. Johnson did steal 14 bases in 14 attempts, so (again) hooray for baserunning.

Very small sample size (all of these defensive statistics are), but Johnson did post some really impressive numbers in his short time at second base.

GS UZR FRAA TZ RAA DRS RAA dWAR
36 4.4 -.9 2 10 1.6

For what it's worth (very little), I thought Johnson looked like a much better defender than Getz. Johnson's career numbers, spread out over several positions, suggest his infield defense is good, not great. He did help the Royals keep some runs off the board, but not nearly enough to make up a 19 wRC+.

Atlanta may give Johnson a chance to win a utility job next season; he only hit below-average with the Braves instead of historically awful. It seems incredibly unlikely we will see him in a Royals uniform again, and I doubt there will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth from the fanbase.

Emilio Bonifacio - We've finally reached the not awful portion of this review. After a horrendous start to the year, Bonifacio clocked in around league-average at the plate.

PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K%
179 .285 .352 .348 9.5% 20.7%
BABIP BsR woBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
.369 3.6 .315 96 1.0 1.2

A .369 BABIP is clearly unsustainable, and is the main reason why his offensive numbers look much better. Bonifacio is a better hitter than Getz, but his career 80 wRC+ doesn't inspire too much confidence. I laid out my position on why the Royals should upgrade from Bonifacio at the end of an earlier article, and haven't seen any reason to change my stance.

Bonifacio also posted impressive baserunning numbers, swiping 16 bags in 18 chances. His strikeout percentage is a little alarming for someone with low power numbers, but he has shown some ability to draw walks. That has helped elevate Bonifacio from replacement level in the past, but still not to the level you want from a starting position player.

He posted respectable fielding numbers during his six weeks in Kansas City, but nothing that completely jumps out at you:

GS UZR FRAA TZ RAA DRS RAA dWAR
29 .2 -2.3 1 4 0.6

Bonifacio's career numbers suggest that he is an average defender at second base, and I didn't see anything last season that made me think he should grade higher. He doesn't seem like a liability at second base, but he's not adding much to his overall value either.

The Royals will have to make some tough choices this winter thanks to a tight budget, and the decision to tender Bonifacio a contract will be one of those decisions. Most of you think the Royals should upgrade second base during the offseason, a sentiment I agree with. It's easy to imagine a scenario, however, with Bonifacio manning second base during Opening Day, with the all of us praying that he somehow repeats his 2013 Kansas City numbers.

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