In this era of baseball history, light-hitting infielders are extremely common; they fill up Major League benches and Triple-A squads during a time when infielders are expected to contribute offensively, too.
Many Kansas City Royals fans were justifiably upset two offseasons ago when the team traded Mark Teahen, a proven if not consistent offensive commodity who could play anywhere on the diamond, to the Chicago White Sox for two such infielders.
One of those infielders – Josh Fields – is no longer with the Royals, and never played more than a handful of games in Royal blue. But the other – Chris Getz – is the team’s starting second baseman and frequent leadoff hitter in the 2011 squad that sits atop the American League Central.
And through Friday, Getz has been contributing greatly to an offense that has put up surprising numbers. Getz is batting .317 with a .375 on-base percentage, both of which are career highs by far.
Getz rose to his current position on the team and in the lineup by fitting perfectly into manager Ned Yost’s philosophy for the 2011 season: play hard, take chances, practice sound defense, steal bases and create opportunities.
What’s even more surprising about Getz’s rise this season is that he is establishing himself as a real possibility to be this team’s second baseman of the future.
That is something nobody dreamed of last season.
Even though Royals prospects are highly-touted, close to Major League-ready and performing at high levels in the minors, the Royals don’t have any middle infield prospects who appear ready to step in by next season. In fact, the closest possible successor to second base is probably Christian Colon, who was the Royals’ first-round draft pick just one season ago.
So Getz could be here for a while. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Looking back through Royals history, it wasn’t too long ago that another light hitting second baseman anchored the team. Now, Frank White’s number 20 is retired, and White is a Royals legend.
(That being said, White had a lot more pop in his bat than Getz does, but there’s no reason to believe Getz’ offense will not continue to improve as he gains more experience. And, defensively, Getz is good, but he’s no Frank White.)
At the very least, Getz is a fun player to watch – if you can look past his lack of offensive power and focus on the other parts of his game. He should provide entertainment for what should be a bad team. However, the April 2011 Royals, with Chris Getz at the lead, are making people reconsider this team’s chances.
Matt Kelsey is a Royals writer and associate editor for I-70 Baseball. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.