Kansas City Royals Should Stick With Omar Infante
By Bob Ellis
Omar Infante, despite a recent flurry of hits versus the Brewers, has been pretty bad in 2015. We can all agree on that. And while some people will point to his awful season thus far as a prime example of an All Star voting system gone wrong…the question on a local level is much more simple: How long of a leash does Infante get?
I looked at MLB second basemen this year, sorted by fWAR over at Fangraphs. Among 23 qualifying players, Infante ranks 19th with a score of just less than zero (-0.2 fWAR). The scale ranges from a 3.9 for Jason Kipnis all the way down to Chase Utley (he got old quick, didn’t he?) and his -1.0 fWAR.
A few months ago, at another Fansided blog called Statliners, I took a look at Alex Gordon and tried to figure out whether or not he was really a top five position player (his fWAR said he was). Basically, all I did was tally up a net total of runs created by combining wRC (offensive runs created) with DRS (defensive runs saved) and called it RCS (Runs Created/Saved). This isn’t anything groundbreaking or something that required the advanced mathematics skills of Will Hunting…but I figured it’d at least be another way to measure guys, alongside the WAR rankings. For what it’s worth…Gordon did rank in the top five in RCS.
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I decided to take a similar approach in looking at Infante’s abysmal 2015 season. Yes, he’s still strong in the field, and that’s absolutely worth something to a team built around an elite defense. In 2015, Infante (these numbers include games played through June 16) has a DRS of 4 and wRC of 10 for a total RCS of 14 through 55 games.
That number isn’t great. At all.
Going back to the All Star situation…Jose Altuve has 37 RCS through 62 games and Jason Kipnis (seriously, how is he third in voting?) sits at 55 RCS through 62 games. Omar obviously isn’t close to these guys. Not that Royals fans had any delusions he’d be in such rarified air.
So lets make this comparison a little more interesting. Our own Christian Colon has 6 RCS in 24 games this year. Chase Utley, a guy Royals fans have talked about trading for over the last few years, has the same number as Colon, but in 61 games. Ouch.
Another guy, Johnny Giavotella, came up with the Royals and was traded to the Angels in December. There is a contingency of fans that, to this day, think Giavotella never got a fair shake in KC, and if you visit Twitter and various message boards, you’ll see fans wondering, “Man…just think if we still had Gio…”
Giavotella, at first glance, certainly appears to have some nice numbers (compared to Infante, anyway) with the Angels. As their starting second baseman, he’s got a slash of .268/.327/.354 (.681 OPS). That looks to be miles ahead of Infante’s .221/.229/.307 (.536 OPS). However…Giavotella has 13 RCS in his 63 games this year. Omar, remember, has 14. And in 8 fewer games.
But back to the question at hand…how long of a leash should Infante have this year? Many fans, myself included, have called for more playing time from Colon. Manager Ned Yost, however, likes to stick to his guns and play his guys…riding out slumps and taking the good with the sometimes very, very bad.
Infante’s 14 RCS in 55 games works out to 0.254 RCS per game. Colon’s 6 RCS in 24 games works out to a similar .25 per game rate. Now…multiplying by 162 we can project them out to a RCS/162. You can already see, the results will show that it probably won’t make the team any better if Colon takes playing time away from the veteran Infante. Colon’s RCS/162 is 40.5, while Infante’s is 41.148. And for those still pining for Johnny Giavotella? His per game RCS is .206, projecting out to a 33.372 RCS/162. No thanks.
Factor in that Infante posted 49 RCS in 135 games last year (a rate of .331 RCS per game) and you have to admit…if Infante can get back in that range, Yost appears to be right to stick with his guy.
I say we let Omar play ball. I mean…he’s very possibly going to start at second base for the AL All Star team…he MUST be good, right?