The Royals have had problems getting production from the shortstop position in almost every season that I can remember (the exception being the 2003 season when Angel Berroa won the Rookie of the Year award). This season was beginning to look like the trend would continue with the horrid offensive performance turned in by Tony Pena, Jr., or TPJ as the KC announce team refers to him. The team manager Trey Hillman claimed that he was leaving TPJ in the position because of his defensive abilities and that his plate performance would come around. It did not.
Pena was hitting in the number nine spot in the lineup and hitting .157, which would qualify him as one of the worst hitters in baseball... possibly across the history of the major league baseball system. He doesn't draw walks and is physically incapable of successfully laying down a bunt. So, he doesn't get hits, he doesn't get on base and he can't help move runners up or manage productive outs. In other words - he's completely useless at the plate. But he is capable of fielding his position. Big fucking deal.
Finally, a change was made and Mike Aviles was brought up from Omaha a couple weeks ago. Aviles had been playing well in the minors this season and his performance now at the major league level has not dropped off. Now they have options. There isn't a guaranteed out in the lineup. What a difference that has made. In the Pena Jr. era, KC was scoring 3.6 runs per game. Since Aviles has take over the spot the Royals are scoring 5.4 runs per game. Aviles gets on base, he drives in runs, he moves runners up, he doesn't strike out as often and the real kicker - his fielding percentage has actually been better than Pena's on the season. Bye bye Pena, I hope I never see you again.
As always, here are some statistics to show the overall team performance increase since making the change, as well as the stats proving that Aviles in 18 games has surpassed the stats accumulated in Pena's 60 games this season.
In the pre-Aviles era, the Royals record is 23-37. Since Aviles began getting regular playing time in the Royals lineup on June 6th, KC is 11-6.
Mike Aviles - 68 AtBats, 23 Hits (13 extra base hits), 14 Runs, 13 RBI, 2 Walks, 2 Steals, 9 Strikeouts, .338 Batting Average, .632 Slugging Percentage
Tony Pena Jr. - 166 AtBats, 26 Hits (5 extra base hits), 14 Runs, 7 RBI, 5 Walks, 3 Steals, 35 Strikeouts, .157 Batting Average, .193 Slugging Percentage