Sports Outside the Beltway

Royals Spring Training Preview – 2B/SS

Previous Installments: C / 1B/DH

The Kansas City Royals have had five different leaders in games played at second base in the last five years, and only one guy manning the other side of the bag (forgive me if I pretend the Neifi Perez year never happened.).

Yes, it has been a long time since Frank White was racking up Gold Gloves in the powder blue, but last year saw the Royals get a nice trophy and nearly-adequate production from their second sacker.

Angel Berroa continued to suck wind, but we’ll get to him in a second.

Mark Grudzielanek

OPS+ 85

If Grudzielanek doesn’t put up a 295/330/400 line with solid defense this year, then something has probably gone horribly wrong with the space/time continuum and we’ll all have bigger things to worry about than baseball.

A contact hitter, Grudzie doesn’t walk much, strike out much or really do much of anything except put the ball in play.

See these nifty charts from Fan Graphs, if you want the proof.

With a good defensive reputation, the Royals had Grudzielanek move over to shortstop at the end of four games last year. He hasn’t played the position regularly since 2000, but I wonder if he won’t see a little more time over there this season if Angel Berroa can’t get his act together.

Angel Berroa

OPS+ 48

Excuse me for a minute while I shake my head and sigh. Those ugly numbers you see were produced over 500 plate appearances in 132 games last year.

By the end of the season, the Royals were regularly pinch-hitting for Berroa at the end of close games, which was a good idea because his lifetime OPS in the ninth inning is .504. (He hits like Babe Ruth in extra innings, but that is more a product of small sample size than actual clutch talent)

The team is on the hook for another $8.5 million, but it appears Dayton Moore has the flexibility to consider those sunk costs if Berroa doesn’t show improvement early in the season.

Estaban German

OPS+ 122

Aside from getting hit in the face by what most observers considered a routine fly ball, German exceeded every reasonable expectation for the Royals last season.

With a strong history of getting on base in the minors, German led the team with a .422 OBP in 2006.

At 28, German is too old to be considered a prospect anymore, and one would guess that his production will slip after a career year, but he appears to be a solid back up for Grudzilanek.

In my perfect world, German would be moved to the other side of the bag and take over for Angel Berroa at short stop, providing patience and power and probably a few more errors. General Manager Dayton Moore has hinted at this possibility in recent radio interviews.

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