Free Aviles

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It was only a matter of time, and I’m sure I’m not the first one to think or write it, until the “Free fill-in-the-blank” campaign made its way to the Royals second baseman utility infielder. It is only a matter of time too, that people start to realize the water noodle that is the bat of Chris Getz. It’s just a matter of time.

Time, you would think, is on the side of the Royals because the 2011 season isn’t happening anyway. It doesn’t count. I’m not sure if anyone got the notice in the off season, but MLB officials released a statement that all 2011 games, while they would be played, didn’t matter and would not be counted in the history books. The Royals, and more importantly the Mission 2012 subscribers, were overjoyed to hear the news of the season being deemed irrelevant, that they have decided that losing games and playing far-below replacement level players isn’t that big of a deal. Why? Because 2011 doesn’t matter anyway, that’s why.

We’ll start with the easy, surface level stats. They’re eye-popping. They’re extraordinary.

Through 92 plate appearances Chris Getz has 18 hits. Not that good.

Through 92 plate appearances Chris Getz has 10 walks. Okay, we can do something with that, at least.

Through 92 plate appearances Chris Getz has two extra base hits. Two. Extra. Base. Hits.

Twenty-two games into the season and the Royals second baseman, the man so desperately needed because of his defense up-the-middle last year, and so important to the stability of the team with a new shortstop this year, has a triple slash of .240/.330/.280. Folks, this isn’t just a slump.

In 211 career games Getz has a wOBA of .297. A quick look around and you can find this sentence in describing wOBA: “…an average hitter is around 0.340 or so, a great hitter is 0.400 or higher, and a poor hitter would be under 0.300.”

Getz is a poor hitter and keeping him in the lineup everyday is costing this team chances to win games. Granted we’ve all been made aware that this year doesn’t count anyway, but winning games is still the most importantly step to take in developing players and a franchise, and writing Getz into the lineup every day is keeping the team from doing that.

Mike Aviles isn’t the team favorite. That much has been made clear. He fits nothing of the profile that the Royals and other scout-geeks look for when they sketch out their hearts desires for a middle infielder. He’s got a thick lower half, a little too well-groomed facial hair, and a batting approach that’s only fun in video games. He is nothing of what Getz looks to be as a baseball player.

But, he’s better. And he’s always been better. The Royals seem intent on making Aviles their sort of super-utility guy, even though they refuse to play him at his two best positions. The two positions which are currently being manned by two of the worst hitters in the American League. Quality defense is one thing, but how other-worldly does the defense need to be to justify the serious lack of offense Getz and Alcides Escobar are providing?

On Sunday Aviles hit his second and third homeruns of the season, the second of which came in the ninth inning to pull the Royals within one run against a superior team. He currently ranks fifth on the team in total bases even though he’s ninth in plate appearances. Aviles needs to play.

Last year Royals fans were outraged that Jason Kendall continued to hit second as much as he did. The outrage wasn’t so much that his replacement, Brayan Pena, was better (he was), but that you can’t justify batting someone who is so clearly overmatched by major league pitching second in the order.

The same kind of outrage needs to start for Aviles playing over Getz. Last season there was no clear cut answer to the offensive woes of Kendall. This season there’s a Ginsu-answer to the liability of lost offense at second base.

The Royals best lineup is still Betemit at third, and Aviles at second. Will some defense be sacrificed? Sure.

The psychology of seeing someone screw up defensively is along the same lines of seeing someone striking out. You see it happening, it’s glaring, it stands out, and that’s all you remember, therefore it must be terrible. In reality though, that often isn’t the case.

The gap between Getz and Aviles defensively is nowhere near as large as the gap between Aviles and Getz offensively, no matter what your eyes are telling you.

Does he look funny at the plate with his stance and how he steps “in the bucket”? Sure. Can he make you angry with some plays he’ll make in the infield? You betcha.  Is he still what’s best for this team, right now, to win games in 2011? Without a doubt.

It’s time to Free Aviles.

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Tags: Alcides Escobar Chris Getz Jason Kendall KC Royals Mike Aviles

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