Photo credit: Jake Roth, USA Today Sports

Someone Should Water the Second Base Tree

Remember when Ned Yost made a snarky comment about the third base tree a few years back? It seems like that comment may have allowed it some room to grow and the Royals now have Mike Moustakas, Cheslor Cuthbert and Hunter Dozier. Moustakas was pretty darn good in 2015 and looked good to start 2016. Cuthbert had a solid rookie of the year that was marred by hitting a wall in September. Dozier is now back on the prospect map after a really good 2016 season that followed two massive clunkers. So now maybe it’s time for the Royals to take a look at their second base tree because it’s a pretty big mess and has been since Dayton Moore took over.

When Moore got to Kansas City in 2006, the Royals actually had a pretty good second baseman in Mark Grudzielanek. Moore was smart enough to keep him around for a couple years, but you may recall that he was no spring chicken and eventually reached the end of the line. Below is a list of all players who have played even one game at second base. Some played just two innings (Cuthbert in 2015) while others have played a lot, way more than they should have.

Tony Abreu
Mike Aviles*
Angel Berroa*
Yuniesky Betancourt
Wilson Betemit
Willie Bloomquist
Emilio Bonifacio
Alberto Callaspo
Jamey Carroll
Pedro Ciriaco
Cheslor Cuthbert
Irving Falu*
Ryan Freel
Esteban German*
Chris Getz
Johnny Giavotella
Tony Graffanino*
Mark Grudzielanek*
Luis Hernandez
Tug Hulett
Omar Infante
Elliot Johnson
Jeff Keppinger
Whit Merrifield
Raul Mondesi
Fernando Cortez
Jimmy Paredes
Tony Pena, Jr.
Angel Sanchez*
Jason Smith
Mark Teahen*
Miguel Tejada
Christian Colon
Danny Valencia
Ben Zobrist

*Players not acquired by Dayton Moore

That’s 36 players who have played second base for the Royals since Dayton Moore took over as general manager. Since the start of 2007 (because it’s a big pain to figure this out based on his hire date in 2006), those second baseman have hit a combined .266/.312/.367. They average about 31 doubles per year, five triples, seven home runs, 63 RBIs, 74 runs and 15 steals per year. This is a bad group of players.

The best in the bunch were probably Ben Zobrist, Emilio Bonifacio, Alberto Callaspo and maybe Whit Merrifield.

I will say before I bash the Royals too hard that there is one name in the system who plays second base who I’m excited about and that’s Corey Toups. If you’re unfamiliar with him, he was a 15th round pick in 2014 out of Sam Houston State. Yes, he was teammates with Ryan O’Hearn. I don’t see a superstar in him, but I do see a guy who can play some pretty quality defense at second and can hit a little. In Wilmington, he rocked a .352 OBP and then when he got out of that disaster for hitters, he posted a .275/.358/.450 line in Northwest Arkansas. He’ll be 24 before the season starts, so he might be a guy who the Royals get some prime years out of before he fades as so many second basemen do. I’m not sure there’s merit for this comparison, but I see a little Marcus Giles in him. That would be nice to have for three or four years.

Whatever the solution is, the Royals haven’t found it in quite some time. I wonder if they have any interest in Sean Rodriguez. He’s coming off a career year offensively, but he does have some pop and has been pretty decent defensively at second base in his minimal time there throughout his career. Other than him, like basically every other position, the free agent cupboard is bare. So no, I’m not advocating for a solution in this space.

I just wanted to sprinkle some holiday joy and talk about the terrible play the Royals have gotten from their second basemen over the last decade. Maybe that tree will start to bloom soon.

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