Just about every change in baseball over the last few decades has been geared toward producing more offense and more home runs.
The ballparks get smaller as do the strike zones, it seems.
Yet in this age of inflated home run numbers, Royals second baseman Chris Getz is the bizarre anomaly:
He has no power. Virtually none.
In fact, Getz hasn’t hit a home run in almost three years, which seems almost impossible in a bombers’ league like the American League.
Getz’s last homer came while he was a member of the White Sox. It was July 19, 2009, in Chicago. He remembers.
“It was off (Baltimore’s) Jeremy Guthrie,” Getz said. “I pulled it. No doubter.”
Getz’s other major league home run came earlier that year.
“Pulled that one, too,” he said, smiling.
But Getz, 28, hasn’t homered since. He already owns the Royals record for the longest home run drought to start a career with the team – 690 at bats entering Thursday’s game against Milwaukee.
Yet Getz doesn’t have the league’s current longest drought. Getz hasn’t homered in 815 at bats, but that is second to the Twins’ Jamey Carroll, who hasn’t homered in 1,140 at bats.
Carroll and the Twins were in Kansas City recently, and Carroll’s streak wasn’t lost on Getz.
“I know about his streak and mine,” Getz said. “It’s going to be a battle over who ends it first.”
Getz’s streak nearly came to an end about a month ago when he drilled a double off the wall at Kauffman Stadium.
“Hitting the wall,” he said, smiling, “that should count for guys like me.”
That Getz can joke about the streak reveals he is confident in his game. He isn’t annoyed when reporters bring up the streak.
“Nah, it’s something I rarely ever think about or talk about,” he said. “It’d be nice to get some homers. But there’s nothing I can do about it.
“I’m not going to start swinging to get home runs. There have been some balls I’ve hit here that would be home runs in other parks. With the approach I’ve taken in this park, there’s no sense in hitting deep flyouts. That’s just not my game.”
There was a time when Getz did hit home runs. He hit 11 one year at Triple-A Charlotte (N.C.)
“That’s just Triple-A,” Getz said. “Most of those minor league numbers are pretty inflated., just like mine were. It’s a totally different game at Triple-A – different pitching, smaller parks. It’s not the same.”
Not being able to join the home run parade doesn’t exactly keep Getz up at nights.
“No, I don’t care about it,” he said. “It’s not going to make or break my career. Whether I hit one home run or two home runs a year isn’t going to make or break my career. Sorry, that’s just not the case.
“I’m just playing, man, doing what I’m capable of doing. I could probably go up there and hit home runs if I really tried. But what is the cost? It will hurt my average. I would have a lot more flyouts that don’t produce anything. It’s not worth it.
“It’s not a stadium here that’s conducive to hitting home runs so why should I try?”
Getz understands his value to the team is built around his solid defense and his speed on offense.
And that is fine with the Royals.
“Sure, you’d always like to see production in that spot,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. “You’d like to see whatever the league average is for that position. But in this ballpark, it’s a tough park to hit home runs. It has more square footage than any other park in baseball..
“I’m not looking at that from him. He does other things that help us. If he’s not in the lineup Monday night against Milwaukee, we don’t win. He made defensive plays and he put down a great bunt on his own. He’s not there to hit home runs. We get that from other sources.”