Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Gio Is Free But Now He Has To Hit

Before I get to Johnny Giavotella I want to spend a little time on Chris Getz. In a season shortened by injuries Getz put together the nicest year of his career posting career highs in batting average, slugging percentage, OPS+ and bWAR. I still don't believe he's a long term option at second base but he was decent enough this year that I didn't mind his presence in the lineup, especially when the other option was the on-base deficient Yuniesky Betancourt. There's something incredibly ironic that Getz was hurt while bunting since that's a skill he has mastered and he is, of course, mistake free. It's like the baseball gods anger at Alex Gordon being removed from the leadoff spot was directed at him instead of Ned Yost

Getz's injury opened the door for Gio, finally. He is supposed to be given five or six starts a week for the remainder of the year, depending on production. Given how long he stuck with Yuni, and that Jeff Francoeur continues to play right field every day, Yost's definition of production may differ from the rest of humanity. While I applaud the decision to let Gio play regularly, let's be real, this is a decision that should have been made in March. 

Gio possesses far more offensive upside than Yuni and Getz so this would have been the ideal year to let him make 150 starts and then decide in the off season if he was the right long term option. Except Moore and Yost couldn't overcome their man crushes on the weak hitting duo so Gio was banished to Omaha to allegedly work on his defense. I say allegedly because I think it's strange to criticize a player for the his defensive shortcomings and then turn around and stick a statue at his position four times a week.

Without a full year's worth of data to examine Moore and company will have to determine Gio's future based on a couple partial seasons. The Royals, due to their short sightedness, remain their own worst enemy. Whatever Gio does the rest of the year will fall under the small sample size category, just like last year, so it'll be difficult to get a good read on his ability to consistently hit big league pitching. 

Small sample size or not, to make any sort of positive impression Gio is going to need to hit and that's something he has yet to do in Kansas City. He's not off to great a start. He's only hitting .167/.167/.167 since his recall and is at .207/.242/.241 for the season. He has absolutely crushed AAA pitching (.337/.397/.477, 921 PAs) and has nothing left to prove in Omaha. Similar production as last year and he could wind up with the dreaded 4A label, unfairly or not. If that happens Moore may go outside the organization to fill the second base hole but I could also see him rolling the dice on Christian Colon.

Last year as a 23 year old rookie Gio hit .247/.273/.376 in 187 plate appearances. Since 1901 seven players have had similar rookie seasons at the age of 23. Similar as defined by me: 150-200 plate appearances, 70-80 OPS+. Only two of those players had successful major league careers, which of course means nothing where Gio is concerned, but you guys know how much I love comps.




Eduardo Perez199319276970.1
Nelson Liriano198717672852.1
Henry Cotto198416074843.3
Kevin McReynolds19831557411527.3
Spud Davis19281887611025.5
John Monroe192117379790.0
Jim Stephens190719373733.5
McReynolds had a solid career but is unpopular in Kansas City because of his lackadaisical attitude towards baseball. He admitted early on his career that it was just a hobby and that he'd rather be hunting or fishing. It makes you wonder what kind of numbers he could have put up if he had shown a greater commitment to the sport.

Despite limited production Perez, Liriano and Cotto all managed to top 2000 plate appearances in their respective careers. I could see Gio also lasting as a utility guy but he'd have to learn to play a passable third base and probably left field.

Davis was a catcher who had his best season in 1933 when he hit .349/.395/.473 (135 OPS+, 4.4 bWAR). There aren't enough guys nicknamed Spud in this world.


  1. Gio was 24 last year during the majority of time in MLB. Not that it's a big deal but I think it's enough to point out.

    1. True but it was considered his age 23 season because of where his birth date falls.