So my Royals look to be playing meaningful baseball in September, for the first time in a decade. I’m excited. I’m disappointed they can’t find a second baseman who bits better than a pitcher, but I’m excited.
And with rosters expanding to 40 players, I have a proposal to fix that second-base issue.
George Kottaras is the Royals’ backup catcher. His batting average is decidedly pitcher-like, but walks a lot, so his on-base percentage is still close to .400. With rosters expanding to 40 players, the Royals can bring up another catcher, so Kottaras can serve one purpose: pinch-hitting for second basemen. And, perhaps, being pinch-run for by the guy who’s going to play second base the next inning.
It serves a purpose. The Royals have several light-hitting second basemen who are relatively fleet of foot. They can’t steal first, but they can borrow it.
Carlos Pena is a past-his-prime first baseman. His batting average is pitcher-like too, these days, but with some power, and he still draws a lot of walks. The Royals have no need for him at first base or DH, but he, too, can specialize in pinch hitting for second basemen.
And once Lorenzo Cain comes back from the disabled list, the Royals will have five capable outfielders (Alex Gordon, Jarrod Dyson, Cain, David Lough, and Justin Maxwell) and three slots to put them in. Dyson’s second job is coming off the bench to pinch run for Billy Butler (the world’s slowest mammal) or Salvy Perez (not much faster) in the late innings. He’s a valuable weapon that way; he once scored from third base on a popup to shortstop. But Lough or Maxwell can take a turn pinch-hitting for a second baseman.
The way I see it, the Royals need to call up a couple of pitchers, but for the most part, the rest of their September call-ups need to be people who can play second base for a couple of innings, or people who can grab a bat when a light-hitting second baseman is due up, step up to the plate, and get on base a reasonable percentage of the time.
The way I see it, in a typical game, there’s no reason for a real second baseman to hit more than twice, and no reason for one of them to hit with a runner on base, or leading off an inning. And by taking three at-bats away from people like Chris Getz and Jamey Carroll, essentially, the Royals get one more inning’s worth of competent at bats, for free.