It is no secret that Chris Owings should not be on a major league roster to everyone but the Royals. They have called up Nicky Lopez and sent Merrifield to the outfield days after saying Merrifield wanted to stay at second base, although Merrifield gave his blessings for the move saying he was tired of losing and wanted to win.
This move gave us relief from having to watch Owings play everyday. Since Nicky was called up Owings has only been playing a couple times a week instead of every day like he did in April. The Royals though are no better off than at the same time last year during a 104 loss season and though the bullpen deserves a lot of the credit, Chris Owings does too.
At this point in the season Owings has 18 hits in 131 ABs with a .199 OBP and a -0.9 WAR. He is playing worse than the guy he replaced, Alcides Escobar, who ended the 2018 season with -0.7 WAR. Over his last 10 games, going back to May 2nd, Owings is 3 for 32 which equates to a .094 BA and a .147 OBP. While the Royals may or may not be trying to win games, its time for a change. I am tired of these free agent signings playing on the team and playing so poorly. I would like to see players from the Royals organization get a shot. Its time for a change and that change should be Humberto Arteaga.
Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2010 out of Venezuela, the Royals #50 prospect (per Royals Farm Report), Arteaga has opened eyes over the last two years. He has made good impressions in Spring Training with his managers and coaches praising most aspects of his game. Ned Yost has commented several times about how impressive Arteaga has been.
Last year in his first full year at AAA he finished second on the team in hits behind only Frank Schwindel and lead the team in batting average at .292 (minimum 400 ABs). He was third on the team in RBIs behind Ryan O’Hearn and Frank Schwindel. He is not a power hitter but still managed six home runs. So far in 40 AAA games this season he is fourth on the team with a .291 BA, third with 50 hits, and fourth in RBIs with 20.
He also has the versatility in the field that the Royals have Owings for. He plays second base, shortstop, and third base on a regular basis. He also played nine games at first base in a pinch. During the 2019 season he has once again played nearly an even split of 14 games at second, 12 at third base and 12 at shortstop.
Arteaga does have some weaknesses with the most glaring one being his walks per strike out rate (K/BB) which currently sits at 3.00, which is an improvement compared to his 3.5 strike outs per walk in 2018. This really affects his ability to get on base and it shows with his .320 OBP in 2019 and .322 in 2018. He needs to improve his OBP in order to translate into an average MLB player.
Arteaga should get a shot at being the back up infielder that Owings is currently wasting away. Even if Arteaga struggles at the MLB level it can not get much worse than what we are forced to witness in Owings. I would rather watch Arteaga in the MLB playing once or twice a week than watch a train wreck trying to imitate an MLB player a couple times a week. As Mike Trout says in that great MLB commercial: “Just let the kids play.”
Photo Credits: Alexander Mendoza – LVBP.com