Second base has been a revolving door lately for the Kansas City Royals. So much so that Miguel Tejada started 22 games at second base for the Royals in 2013. To put that in perspective, Tejada had four career starts at second base in 14 previous seasons and over 1900 games.
But Kansas City was desperate for someone to fill in at the key infield spot. The Royals tried six different players at the position in 2013 (Chris Getz, Elliot Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio, Johnny Giavotella, Jamey Carroll and Tejada). Getz led the team with 62 games started at second base.
With the Royals signing Omar Infante to a four-year, $28.25 million contract this off-season, they hope that this year, and in the coming years, the revolving door will slam shut. Infante provides much needed stability at a position that has lacked an everyday starter for years. While players like Irving Falu, Tony Abreu and Wilson Betemit saw time at the position, the last player to start over 100 games in a season at second base for the Royals was Alberto Callaspo in 2009.
Infante has three seasons of over 100 starts at second base in his career, including 116 starts last year for the Tigers. While it will be nice for the Royals to have a name they can pencil in the lineup everday at second base, Infante is a more than capable player. He is a career .279 hitter over his 12-year major league career. He’s not a power hitter, so he doesn’t rack up the home runs and RBIs, but he does get on base at a decent rate (he had a .345 OBP with Detroit last year). He also can score runs and even steal a few bases.
Most important for the Royals, however, is his reliability. As long as Infante stays healthy, he should see over 100 starts at second base and should provide solid numbers at the plate and a steady defensive presence. There is little competition for Infante at the position, with Giavotella listed as second on the depth chart on the Royals website. Bonifacio has moved on from the Royals and the Kansas City front office has already shown a reluctance to give Giavotella an everyday look at second.
All this means that Royals fans, for the first time in five years, will have a recognizable face at second base for most of the season. Get used to it Royals fans, because this is your second baseman for years to come.