Royals Infield: Depth Chart Discussion

The Royals infield is generally set going into 2013 with each position’s starter, besides 2B, determined before camp even began. While the battle seem cut and dry, some playing time issues will show up.

1B 2B 3B SS C
Starter Eric Hosmer Chris Getz Mike Moustakas Alcides Escobar Salvador Perez
Backups Billy Butler Johnny Giavotella Miguel Tejada Elliot Johnson George Kottaras
George Kottaras Elliot Johnson Elliot Johnson Miguel Tejada Manual Pina

First BaseEric Hosmer will get the starts when at an American League park instead of a 2012 All-Star, Billy Butler. While Hosmer’s glove is not great, Butler’s is worse. No one else is really in the 1B equation. If both Hosmer and Butler are hurt, catcher George Kottaras may move to 1B.

One interesting note on the 1B position will be the Royals actions in the season’s 2nd series. They travel to Philadelphia and one of the pair will need to sit. I really don’t want to guess what the team will do. In a perfect nerd run world, Butler will get the starts since he is an established good hitter. Nine days after the Phillies series, the Royals go to Atlanta. How the team operates with two 1B in NL parks will be interesting.

Second Base – Oh what a mess. The Royals have Chris Getz and Johnny Giavotella battling it out for the starting 2B job.

Getz is a gritty veteran who the Royals love to roster. The 29-year-old is just not a good player. He has no power. He has the 2nd lowest ISO among players with at least 800 PA over the past 3 seasons. Though, he has some reasonable speed and will accumulate some SBs.

Giavotella has displayed decent power and contact skills while in the minors, but has not been able to translate the power to the majors. The 24-year-old has the chance to possibly develop later as a middle infielder like Brandon Phillips or Brian Roberts did.

If an approach of looking at projections to determine who gets the call, Giavotella should start. Here are their 2013 ZiPS projections prorated to 600 PA.

Giavotella 7 68 58 10 0.266 0.318 0.368
Getz 0 66 43 27 0.259 0.312 0.316

It is a trade off of power for speed. The pair was to be battling it out in spring training and right now, I would guess Getz gets to start. He has a couple of stolen bases and some how hit a home run. Getz seems to have the job for now.

During the season I could see the team try to go with the hot hand or look at giving first round pick Christian Colon a chance at 2B. Colon has mainly played SS in the minors, but may have to make the move to 2B. Other possibilities are Irving Falu and Miguel Tejada. If at all possible, stay away for the situation, but if you have to dive into the mess take Getz.

Shortstop – An easier prediction to look at. If Alcides Escobar is healthy, he should start 150+ games at short stop like he did last year. No legitimate pospects exist in the minors who will likely replace Escobar if he struggles. When Escobar is not starting or hurt, look for one of the following Elliot Johnson, Christian Colon, Miguel Tejada or Irving Falu to start.

Third Base. Like with Escobar, third base is Mike Moustakas‘s to man all season unless he gets hurt. If he needs a replacement, the same names seem to pop up as a backup, Elliot Johnson, Miguel Tejada or Irving Falu. Right now the Royals have not played their hand yet and who makes the 25 man roster is still up for grabs.

Catcher. Salvador Perez will be the regular catcher. No debate here. The Royals brought in 3 catchers to be his backup, Brett Hayes, Max Ramirez and George Kottaras. They were to be in an open competition, but George Kottaras should and probably will get the backup job. He may be limited defensively, but he hits decently for a catcher against RHP. Hayes and Ramirez will need to accept assignment to minors if they don’t make the 25-man roster. If Perez or Kottaras go down and Hayes and Ramierez aren’t on the team anymore, Manny Pina will get the call to come up and catch.

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Jeff writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first season in Tout Wars, he won the H2H league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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