There are a number of position battles that have caught people’s attention this spring and with it getting down to crunch time for fantasy baseball drafts, it’s important to know how things are going to play out. One spot, in particular that has drawn plenty of interest is the battle for second base in Kansas City. Originally, the favorite was youngster Johnny Giavotella, but with both Chris Getz and (gulp!) Yuniesky Betancourt having decent springs, things are getting a little interesting.
A report back in late February in the Kansas City Star stated that Giavotella was the favorite over Getz for the starting second base job. Doesn’t really seem like that tough a decision. Getz has been puttering around the big leagues for a few years now with nothing more to show than an average glove and some stolen base potential. He may not strike out too often (11.6% career) but he has no power (0.54 career ISO) and sports a career slash line of .254/.315/.307 with a .290 wOBA. Not very appealing, even by middle infield standards.
Giavotella, on the other hand, may not have the major league experience that Getz possesses, but based on his minor league totals, there is plenty of upside. He makes solid contact, has shown strong plate discipline and has good bat speed which helps give him solid gap power. His ISO totals in the minors have been strong and his on-base skills have been first rate.
If there’s a knock on Giavotella though, it’s been his defense. Early on he was criticized for his range and his hands, and while he made year to year improvements on his fielding percentage, he could still stand to improve some more. However, in the battle between Giavotella and Getz, you’d have to think that the Royals would downgrade some in defense at the keystone if it meant such a significant offensive upgrade.
But then in walks Betancourt. Not that he is any great shakes as anyone who has ever watched a baseball game can attest. However, when Yost turns around and announces that Betancourt will be given the chance to win the second base job this spring and then says, “I think Yuni will start three or four times a week,” suddenly he’s got everyone’s attention and the head scratching begins.
Now when Yost made those comments, he was referring to Betancourt as a utility man who could cover ground at shortstop and third base as well, but starting three to four times a week is still a lot of ball. That means that someone in the Royals infield is going to get the short end of a stick here. It’s tough to believe that Mike Moustakas is going to be losing a considerable amount of time to Betancourt and without Alcides Escobar, there’s very minimal speed at the bottom of the order. True, Yost did discuss lifting Escobar for a pinch hitter late in games due to his ineffectiveness with runners in scoring position, but that’s not Betancourt starting three to four times a week.
So really, who could be suffering the most? It sounds like Giavotella so far. With any luck, Yost’s statements can be taken as motivational and he’s just trying to keep his youngsters on their toes, but if not, then you might want to think twice before taking a late round flier on Johnny G. Alternatives at that point in the draft, according to recent ADP reports, would be Gordon Beckham and Tyler Greene and while they’re no locks to produce themselves, they both seem to have the full confidence of their managers.