I don’t know why, but the powers that be sure do love Chris Getz for some reason. I admit, early on, I even said he deserved the job out of spring training over Johnny Giavotella. Even so, I knew he wasn’t very good…but this is getting ridiculous. Especially when there is a certain utility player named Elliot Johnson riding the pine when Getz (for whatever reason) gets the start.
So, why did I side with Getz in the second base battle this spring? Well, he’s good in the field (better than Gio), he’s fast (faster than Gio), and when Gio has gotten his chances in the past, he hasn’t hit (his one real plus). Not only hadn’t he hit…he hadn’t outdone Getz as a hitter. So…I thought, if we’re coming into this year trying to win – go with the guy who (sadly) is more proven. And that guy was Chris Getz.
Don’t get me wrong…I wasn’t expecting Getz to be any more than what we’d seen in the past. But I figured with plus defense and speed…and all the other (ahem) up and coming bats, we could handle Getz batting .250ish and playing a good second base. Well…that was before we saw what Moose and Hosmer were going to do (or NOT do). Not to mention the weak play from Frenchy, Escobar’s regression at the plate (I assumed he’d regress, but not this much) and so on, and so on…
Through Tuesday’s game against Cleveland, Getz has played in 46 games and racked up 156 plate appearances. What’s he done with all those trips to the plate? Not much. His slash line is .216/.278/.288. Just…ugly. That’s an OPS (if you don’t want to add the numbers) of .566. He’s got 4 stolen bases and has scored 19 runs. If you’re a speed guy…you damn sure better get on base, steal some bases, and score some runs. Getzy isn’t doing any of the three. Not only is he NOT doing these things…he’s failing miserably at them.
The fanbase (myself included) is hoping for a trade or two…maybe shore up a couple of the weak spots (most glaringly 2B, 3B, and RF). That’s one option…and I wouldn’t be sad to see a trade come to fruition. In the meantime, there’s a way to fix things in house. Remember Elliot Johnson? The guy who lit up Tampa, only to find himself sitting behind Getz (again) for the first two games of the Cleveland series? He’s not half bad.
Johnson has also appeared in 46 games, although he hasn’t seen as much playing time as Getz. Johnson’s got 113 plate appearances (43 less than Getz) and has a slash line of .252/.286/.346 – not much better with OBP, yet he’s been much more productive in less playing time. Johnson’s got 2 homers (Getz does have 1, amazingly), scored 16 runs, and driven in 8 more. He’s also been more prolific when it comes to stealing bases, with 10 (6 more than Getz has managed).
Did I mention Johnson has been better in the field, too? According to Fangraphs, Johnson’s UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) is a 4.1 for the year. That number combines his total fielding for the year – which includes 2B, 3B, and SS. If we drill down further, looking only at 2B, Johnson has a UZR of 3.8 in 26 starts, with just 1 error (.992 fielding percent). Getz, on the other hand, has a UZR of 1.8 in 41 starts. He also has just one error…which means when he DOES get his glove on the ball, he’s pretty steady. But Johnson’s UZR is twice that of Getz…meaning he gets to more balls, has a chance to make plays Getz can’t, and still only has the one error to show for it. Given more time in the field, maybe Johnson would prove more prone to errors, maybe he wouldn’t…but he’ll constantly be in position to make more plays than Getz, and that’s a good thing.
Remember when I was touting Getz over Giavotella because of his speed and defense? Well, Johnson has outplayed Getz in both areas, has a batting average 36 points higher, and an OPS 66 points higher (with a SLG that’s 58 points higher). But Getz can do the little things, right? Bunting, for example. Well…if you’re reading this, I know you saw him fail miserably in game 2 versus Cleveland Tuesday night.
So…is Chris Getz as good as it gets? He doesn’t have to be. On a team that rides its pitching and defense, Johnson is the better choice. On a team struggling to hit for power, Johnson has a .346 SLG. Now, that’s nothing to brag about, but why leave that extra 58 points of extra base power on the bench? If all we wanted from the position was defense and speed…the added pop is just a bonus.
Look at it this way – for his career, Johnson has 644 plate appearances, which adds up to a full season. In that time, he’s hit 12 homers. So it stands to reason, if he played everyday at 2B, he’d not only play great defense and create havoc on the base paths, but he’d likely hit 10 to 12 homers as well. Not too shabby.
Is Johnson a long-term solution? Probably not. But until Dayton Moore adds a better option to the 25-man roster (and I hope he’s burning up front office phone lines around the major leagues as I type this)…Johnson should be the guy. Is this the only position that needs to be reevaluated? Nope. We still have dead weight in Mike Moustakas and Jeff Francoeur, but replacing Getz can be the first step in the right direction.