When making personal connections in life, we almost universally welcome certain behavioral traits like compassion and loyalty. They help enrich the lives we lead and make the world we live in better with each generation. They’re valued in all successful and civilized societies.
They have no place on a 25-man roster.
Chris Getz would have been replaced on any other major league roster, but whether out of compassion, altruism, a penchant for imagining imperceptible attributes, or out of loyalty, Dayton Moore has not “fired” him.
Sports are not real life. That is the point of sports. They’re escapism that glorifies the height of natural human ability. They provide narratives and allegories that mirror real life…but they’re not real life. Sports aren’t about compassion. They’re about competition. They’re about winning.
Winning is all there is. It’s the bottom line. When clashing against the greatest talent in the world, in any sport, only equally great talent can win. So, of course, baseball teams are built to win. They literally serve no other purpose. Because acquiring the best of the best talent is a necessity for big league competition, the process of constructing a big league roster is necessarily Darwinian–survival of the fittest.
This is where Chris Getz comes in. He managed to remain unnoticed for years while the more obvious liabilities were upgraded, but now, he is the last itty-bitty fish in the deep end of the shark tank.
Since the Kansas City Royals acquired Getz before the 2010 season, he has been injured much of the time, only accruing 1109 plate appearances. Of the 41 second basemen who have accrued 1000 or more plate appearances, Getz ranks last in home runs with one (tied with Jamey Carroll!), 35th in runs with 120, 38th in walks with 78, and 37th in fWAR.
It may not be fair to compare accumulation stats for Dustin Pedroia against a guy who barely topped 1000 plate appearances, so here are some stats based on league average. He is 35th of 41 in OBP with .306, 40th in SLG with .297 and 40th in wOBA with an adorable .272.
He ranks dead last in both isolated power (again, tied with Jamey Carroll!) with .049 and wRC+ with 65 (“weighted runs created plus” compares the number of runs that a player creates to league average). The only other second basemen with less than 70 wRC+ over the last four years are Orlando Cabrera, Jonathan Herrera and Chone Figgins, all of whom were utility players and two of whom are out of baseball. Getz only plays second base and is the worst hitter among them. His slightly above average defense isn’t nearly enough to make up for being the worst everyday second basemen in the major leagues.
Of course this isn’t Getz’s fault. Not exactly. He’s not strong enough to play baseball at the highest level. He’s just not. He can’t help it. It’s the GM’s responsibility to get the best talent available and put it on the roster. Considering that every other team has managed to do so at one point or another while Getz has been with the Royals, it’s hard to find a plausible excuse for not improving on him. Right now, the Royals have two decidedly better options in AAA with Johnny Giavotella and Christian Colon. Maybe they won’t be able to hit at the major league level either, but at least they haven’t definitively proven they can’t.
Maybe Dayton Moore and Ned Yost are loyal to Getz, or maybe they genuinely believe he is the best option. However, no possible set of circumstances can justify Chris Getz remaining the best option at second base for four years running. Before the 2012 season, Moore could have improved the position, but instead decided to pay Jeff Francoeur more money and signed has-been Jonathan Sanchez.
After so much frustration, excuses, dodges, and delays, fans have lost patience, becoming an angry mob with a lynchin’ noose fitted for Getzie’s neck at the ready. Starring in a Rio Bravo situation of their own making, Sherriff Dayton Moore and his trusty drunken deputy Ned Yost will have none of it. They’ll let the jailhouse burn before they give the mob what they want.
The Royals finally got a modest upgrade over Getz by acquiring Emilio Bonifacio, a toolsy, speedy utility player who would remain a utility player on any other team. He can’t hit, but has a good enough eye at the plate to normally maintain a league average OBP. Since joining the Royals he has alternated playing center-field, third base and second base to account for injuries. Bonifacio should immediately assume full-time duties at second base. The Royals have an abundance of outfielders. Jarrod Dyson and David Lough have proven that they can handle center-field duties until Lorenzo Cain‘s return.
There is no excuse to hold onto a player who was acquired to be a placeholder for young talent as it worked its way through the Royals farm system. Bonifacio isn’t a long-term solution either. He’s another placeholder for better incoming talent, as well. Whether that talent comes from the farm system, from a trade, or via free agency doesn’t matter, as long as it is an upgrade. The Royals don’t need three or four or five utility players to hold down the position next year. They need upper-tier talent and Getz is certainly not that.