The decision isn’t surprising, as Getz entered spring the assumed favorite and hit better in spring training games. Getz enters Saturday with a .372/.426/.512 line, including a home run. He also has three steals in four attempts. Giavotella hasn’t been hitting poorly, but his .267/.283/.400 line just wasn’t enough to overtake Getz. His one non-base hit was a hit by pitch and he had no stolen bases.
It’s just not enough to unseat the incumbent.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’d expect me to be upset, to lead the charge towards One Royal Way, pitchfork and torch in hand. I’ve long been a believer in Giavotella. He’s hit at every level of the minor leagues, and hit well. Not just well enough for a second baseman, either. Well for any player in the league. At one point in 2011, he had more base hits than anyone in professional baseball and shortly after was called up.
I wonder how much his hip injury bothered him in late 2011 and if he’d have hit better at the time if 2012 would have been less of a competition. He was called up in May 2012 but never got consistent playing time until Getz got hurt late in the year. After that, he didn’t take the opportunity.
It’s possible that Giavotella won’t be able to approach his minor league numbers in the big leagues. To this point, that’s what it looks like. The Royals would have been better off spending 2012 learning more about him as a big leaguer with an everyday job, and if he couldn’t do the job in a full season of 600 at bats, then at least they’d know that he couldn’t do it. Why the Royals say they think 1000 plate appearances is their benchmark for evaluating a player, but decide Giavotella’s fate after less than 400 surprises me, but not that much. At this point, they have their eyes set on pushing for the division and they feel that Getz is an everyday player and that they can’t wait for Giavotella to sort it out.
For what it’s worth, Bob Dutton has said that the Royals feel more comfortable with Giavotella’s defense, which was always behind his bat in the minors. Dutton said in a Q&A that “I think club officials believe his defense is good enough to play every day — if he hits.” And he’s hit well enough in spring training, but hasn’t gotten on base well enough, and hasn’t done either well enough to surpass Getz.
That’s the reality. If Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, and Alcides Escobar continue to develop, Billy Butler and Alex Gordon merely produce at their typical levels, and maybe Lorenzo Cain breaks out, whoever’s at second won’t be a big deal.
It would be disingenuous of me to be upset about this decision. I knew Getz was the starter going into spring training, and he’s done everything he’s had to do to hold onto the job. It’s that simple. I prefer Giavotella as the option with more room to grow, but it’s not my decision.
Reports out there say that Getz has adjusted – again – his batting stance from the upright “more power” stance last year to a more crouched stance this year. Will it make a difference? Probably not. He had a higher batting average last season, but his on base percentage was right in line with his career line. He’s the known commodity, and that’s a comfort the Royals want to stick with.