Yuni Being Yuni? No Thanks.
MLB.com writer Adam McCalvry, who regularly reports on the Milwaukee Brewers, has published this gem about how the Brewers are “letting Yuni be Yuni” at the plate.
“Coaches not pressing vet to apply more patient approach”
Oh boy. It gets better:
“The reports said that when Mariners coaches tried to coax a more patient plate approach from Betancourt, his results actually suffered. When they let him simply react at the plate and swing away, he had some success.
The Royals reportedly used a similar hands-off approach, and Betancourt delivered a career offensive year last season, tying for the club lead in home runs and RBIs.”
Here’s my question: When the heck has Yuniesky Betancourt been successful? At all?
Betancourt has a career .293 on-base percentage. His career best? .310 – a full 26 points lower than the league average. He has never attained an OPS+ of 100 even once in his career. And last year, when he led the league in HR and RBI? He led the Royals. A team that scored 676 runs all year.
McCalvry continues: “Entering Tuesday, Betancourt had swung at a Major League-high 42.8 percent of first pitches…. He was batting .228 with three home runs and 20 RBIs.”
Is that your way of saying that it’s working for him?
Yuniesky Betancourt has got to be the easiest batter to face, with the exception of pitchers. Well, some pitchers. He swings at anything. Low and outside? Up and in? He’s hacking. He doesn’t strike out much, only because he rarely even makes it to strike 2.
Yuni, there’s a reason those pitches are generally called balls. It’s because when you make contact with them, they don’t often result in base hits. That’s why Yuni has been in the .230’s all season.
He’s also one of the worst defensive shortstops in the game, regardless of what the defensive metrics say. Somehow he’s at +0.5 dWAR, despite being significantly below average in range factor, slightly below average in fielding percentage, and all-in-all terrible at his job. He’s messed up at least two pickles this season. Pickles.
So what the Brewers have on their hands is arguably the worst all-around shortstop in the game. Maybe the worst overall player.
Why are the Brewers letting Yuni be Yuni?
In fact, why are the Brewers letting Yuni be their shortstop?
This is a team that’s supposed to be competing for a playoff spot. Brewers GM Doug Melvin made it perfectly clear this off-season that the Brewers were all-in for 2011. They kept Prince Fielder around, bolstered their bullpen, traded their top position prospect for Shaun Marcum, and then traded four players for Royals ace Zack Greinke – who brought with him some questionable baggage, his shortstop, Yuni B. Indeed, taking on Betancourt was an extra price to pay for acquiring Greinke.
Good one, Dayton.
Surely the Brewers can figure out something better to do. Right?
Jose Reyes has been either the best or second-best shortstop in the game so far this season and is rumored to be on the trading block. Unfortunately, the Brewers have very little to offer the Mets or anyone else for that matter. After trading Brett Lawrie and Jake Odorizzi over the off-season, the Brewers have exactly zero top-100 prospects. The only possibility is some package centered around Mat Gamel, but even that seems unlikely now that Gamel has been switched to first base.
Even if no potential deal is out there to be made, the Brewers already have a better option on their bench: Craig Counsell. Yes, he’s 40 and has basically no power. But even in his fifth decade, Counsell still fields better than Betancourt and has reached base at a .350 clip over the past three seasons.
He wouldn’t be good.
But he’d be better than Betancourt.
And the difference between adding one extra win and costing your team an extra win could mean the division.