September 05, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals second baseman Johnny Giavotella (9) gets the force out on Texas Rangers catcher Geovany Soto (8) at second base and throws to first in the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE

Here Comes Johnny!!

The Royals second base job has been a topic of conversation for a while now.  Entering spring training, Chris Getz and Johnny Giavotella were vying for the coveted starting second base job.  Getz was given very little chance to make the club but did so much to impress the coaching staff that their hand was forced.  With a solid showing in Arizona, Getz reclaimed the role and would start the season in Kansas City while Gio would wind up in Omaha.

May 9, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals batter Johnny Giavotella (9) drives in a run against the Boston Red Sox during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE

Getz was able to carry over a solid spring into the season and maintain his position as the team’s starting second baseman for the first few months.  With Gio playing well in Omaha, he was promoted in May, and let’s just say he didn’t do all that much to stay with the big club.  A .239 average in May and a .174 clip in June doesn’t warrant a 25-man roster spot for long.  His call up was disappointing to say the least for those who had been campaigning for the youngster to claim the job.  It certainly didn’t help him that he received sporadic playing time and could never find a groove.  His main fault has always been his defense at second base, but throughout the ranks of the minor leagues he has always found a way to rake.  It doesn’t bode well for a guy who is known for his bat, that he’s not able to provide that at the big league level.  Luckily, Gio is going to have a few more chances.

An injury struck Chris Getz in August and forced him to miss the rest of the season.  This was a fortuitous break for Gio as he now is the regular second baseman getting the majority of starts the rest of the way.  In this time, from his last recall, Gio has improved his play defensively, but is still not hitting up to expectations.  However, as of late, Gio has started to catch fire.  He finally hit his first home run of the season on September 4th against the Rangers.  Through the first 9 games in September, Gio is hitting .344 and has shown a bit of consistency.  What’s troubling me are his strikeout to walk numbers.  In 142 at bats this season, he has 28 strikeouts to only 8 walks, good for a 18.8K% and a 5.4BB%.

This is still an open competition as we end the season and head into the spring.  Getz is still the better runner and has the better glove.  Due to a stance change he has also been hitting at a consistent level with a little more extra base pop than what we are used to seeing from him.  Gio must dominate pitching the way he has for Omaha the last two seasons if he wants the starting job all to himself.  Otherwise, we will still be looking at a platoon type of situation for next year or it could very well be Chris Getz’s job again.

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Tags: Chris Getz Johnny Giavotella Kansas City Royals

  • Eric Akers

    His walk rate is just part of his struggles at the mlb level, not indicative of the hitter that he is. When young guys are trying to figure things out at this level, everything can go badly. I think the change is due to a change in approach. In previous games, I have seen Gio taking too many pitches for strikes that he should be swinging at, but he has improved his aggressiveness lately.

    I remember an at bat where he took the first pitch for a strike (good decision), but then took the second pitch (fastball int the middle). From there he only managed to foul off a couple of pitches before striking out. He had put himself in a bad spot before ever moving the bat off his shoulder. Now I have seen him not afraid to swing at the first pitch of an at bat.

    Overall, I would say that he is becoming more comfortable at this level, and I think we will continue to see improvement, both on offense and defense.

  • jimfetterolf

    Eddie Rodriguez has made a couple of improvements to Gio’s motion on pitches and he now looks a step quicker, so his defense is working its way up. The problem is the bat, Irving Falu comes up and hits .300, Sal Perez hits over .300, David Lough hits right out of the gate, it can be done and by people who didn’t hit as well in the minors.

    Gio seems to be relaxing a little, but his bat still looks a little slow. As small as he is he should be a walking machine, but his hitting needs to scare pitchers enough to not just throw fastballs down the middle to him. He’s getting his chance, again, at September pitchers, so needs to take advantage of what may be his last opportunity with both Chris Colon and Rey Navarro coming up behind him and Irving Falu and Tony Abreu already having had success at the major league level, and the proven Chris Getz back in the spring. Lot of competition, no gimmes this time.