Despite being somewhat happy with Emilio Bonifacio’s production at second base, the Royals appear to be interested in finding a new second baseman this offseason. Omar Infante is the object of the rumor du jour, and the Royals may in fact be the favorite to sign the soon-to-be 32 year old. Infante doesn’t offer a ton of upside, but he should be able to provide league average overall production for two or three years, which is a heck of a lot more than the team has gotten from their second basemen in recent history. If it seems to you that the Royals are always getting sub-par performances from their second basemen, well, it’s because they are.
Since 1999, there have been exactly 2 seasons in which Royals’ second basemen put up more than 2 fWAR, and both of them came from Mark Grudzielanek, in 2006 and 2007. There have been just 5 seasons in which Royals’ second basemen posted at least 1.5 fWAR in that same timeframe. With the exception of Jose Offerman’s 4.6 WAR 1998 season, the Royals haven’t had a second baseman put up 3+ WAR since Frank White in 1986. In fact, the franchise has only had six 3+ WAR seasons from second basemen in their entire existence.
In the Dayton Moore era, Royals’ second basemen have combined to put up a line of .274/.324/.376, which comes out to a wRC+ of 86. Fifteen different players have manned the keystone since 2006, and exactly three of them have posted an above average cumulative wRC+, which includes Irving Falu‘s 118 in just 95 plate appearances. The other two players? Alberto Callaspo (102) and Esteban German (101). Once you factor in his bat flip, a strong argument could be made that German is the best offensive second baseman in Moore’s tenure. Think about that for a second. Before you finish crying and/or vomiting, look at what Royals’ second basemen have done in the last 3 seasons:
.248/.292/.336, 70 wRC+, -0.1 fWAR
I don’t think there are enough negative adjectives to describe those numbers, so I won’t waste any more time on them. I’m sure your eyes are in some serious pain by now, so I’ll move on and just get to the point.
After Bonifacio hit .285/.352/.348 in 179 plate appearances with Kansas City, it makes sense that many would perceive him to be a perfectly acceptable second baseman. I mean, just look again at what the Royals have gotten from that position in recent years. Bonifacio was below average at the plate, and he still was a huge improvement over all the other players the Royals have trotted out there. I won’t argue that point, but the team can do better.
While I do think Bonifacio won’t be an overall negative if he’s playing every day, the Royals would be much better off with him in a utility role and a different player at second base. I don’t know if that player is Infante, or Daniel Murphy, or Christian Colon, or someone else, but I do know the team should be looking for an upgrade at that spot. Hopefully someone else can finally end the curse that apparently hangs over the middle of Kauffman Stadium.