The return of YuniGetz

When infielder Chris Getz returned from the disabled list Tuesday night, the Royals sent infielder Johnny Giavotella to AAA Omaha. And when infielder Yuniesky Betancourt returned from the DL earlier this month, long time minor league infielder Irving Falu went back to Omaha.

If you read some of the articles and comments on Royals blogs and websites, it’s obvious Getz and Betancourt are not fan favorites. And with Betancourt’s lack of defensive range and Getz’s lack of power, it’s easy to see why. But are the players they replaced, Falu and Giavotella, any better? Or are Betancourt and Getz the best the Royals have for now?

For the sake of comparison, I’ll compare the positions of second base and utility infielder. For second base, I’ll compare second basemen Chris Getz and Johnny Giavotella. For utility infielders, I’ll compare Yuniesky Betancourt and Irving Falu.

Comparing the offensive numbers of Getz and Giavotella, they’re similar in many ways, but some stats stand out.

      Chris Getz Johnny Giavotella
Games 30 21
PA 94 73
Hits 23 15
Runs 9 8
RBI 8 6
BA/OBP/SLG .277/.322/.386 .217/.260/.261
Strikeouts 8 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getz has more games and plate appearances than Giavotella and edges Gio in runs RBI and strikeouts. But Getz has seven more hits and a much higher batting average, on base percentage and slugging. Neither player has a home run, but second base is not a power position. Offense is important, but defense is key for asecond baseman. Here’s their defensive numbers:

Chris Getz Johnny Giavotella
Fld% .991 .939
lgFld% .981 .981
RF/9 4.52 4.06
lgRF/9 4.61 4.61

Defensive stats aren’t as reliable as offensive stats due to a lot of factors I won’t list here. But Getz’s fielding percentage is 52 points over Giavotella’s and Getz is 10 points over the league fielding percentage. Giavotella is 42 points less than league average. And with range factor per nine innings, Getz is close to league average, but way ahead of Giavotella. So looking at statistics, one can see why the Royals say Getz’s defense has the edge and at least for 2012, Getz’s offense has the edge overGiavotella. Like it or not, Getz is playing better than Giavotella and until that changes, Giavotella will be staying in Omaha.

Moving on to the utility infielders, here’s the offensive numbers of Yuniesky Betancourt and Irving Falu:

Yuniesky Betancourt Irving Falu
Games 22 12
PA 82 45
Hits 20 14
Runs 9 7
RBI 10 1
BA/OBP/SLG .267/.309/.467 .326/.326/.442
Strikeouts 8 7

Betancourt has a lot more games and plate appearances compared to Falu, but Falu has a decent number of hits with his limited playing time, which increases his batting average. And Falu was close to Betancourt in runs. However, Betancourt drove in more runs and Falu almost had as many strikeouts as Betancourt. Yuni has the edge in offense, but if Falu played as much as Betancourt, I have a feeling the numbers would be similar.

How about defense? That’s the bread and butter of an utility infielder and here’s the defensive numbers of Betancourt and Falu:

Yuniesky Betancourt Irving Falu
Fld% .918 .957
lgFld% .969 .969
RF/9 3.39 3.79
lgRF/9 3.88 3.88

These defensive numbers are the average of second base, shortstop and third base, all positions Betancourt and Falu played. Both Betancourt and Falu are below league average in all categories, but Betancourt’s numbers are lower than Falu’s. The numbers tell us what we’ve known all along: Betancourt’s defense and range are below average and he’s not a good fielder. And Falu would likely do a better job as an utility infielder than Betancourt and provide almost the same level of offense.

So instead of playing Falu, a longtime minor leaguer who’s been with the Royals for years and would play at league minimum pay, the Royals play Betancourt, who has worse defense and is getting two million dollars that could be spent on pitching. And don’t forget the Royals like to platoon Betancourt and Getz at second base. These are the things which frustrate Royals fans.

These players alone aren’t going to get the Royals towards .500, let alone winning the American League Central. But for now, Chris Getz is the best player at second base and the Royals should dump Betancourt and call up Falu as their utility infielder.

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