A Simple Kind of Fan. The Player of the Month Yuni Watch – 8.3.11
Brace yourselves folks. Yuni Betancourt was named the Milwaukee Player of the Month. Improbable would be the best word to describe that achievement. I’m not sure if that is a compliment to Yuni or an indictment of the other 24 bums on the roster. Regardless, he has been improving offensively. Of course, right around trade time our favorite SS has been heating up. Yuni is currently being sold as a second half player right now and I am not sure I am buying that theory. In fact, I would like to know what kind of idiot looked only at offensive statistics for the award. I say this because Yuni is still the worst defensive infielder in all of baseball. I always get a chuckle at how people who are experts of the game completely ignore a facet of the game like defense.
For the month Yuni had a slash line of .299/.315/.437/.752. If he did this all season, here would be his slash ranks among NL shortstops: 2nd/9th/3rd/3rd. Considering the NL already has Reyes and Tulowitzki, I would say that 3rd place is pretty good. Perhaps Yuni had an extended stretch of playing well back in 2007, and that is what got him the 3 year contract extension? Clearly, he has the ability to put it together offensively. In fact, Yuni currently has a hit in 14 of 15 games.
One thing that I have been harping about since March that is still not improving, despite his resurgence, is his lack of patience at the plate. Yuni drew three walks in 92 plate appearances. This explains his horrendously low on base percentage. He simply needs to be more selective at the plate and work the count. I am convinced this weakness is going to cost him plenty of postseason starts in October.
While we have been discussing the month of July, let’s not forget our tradition of going over Yuni’s week. For the week Yuni was 8 x 26 with a homer, double, and a walk. It was quiet, but effective for most of the week. Until last night’s HUGE go ahead 3 run homer, as always, he managed to make a minimum contribution offensively with one extra base hit all week. Defensively, his range was once again terrible, but he does seem to make the plays that are hit at him. I suppose Roenicke’s defensive shifts will become more critical to the defensive success of Yuni as time goes on.
Since Doug Melvin has failed to make any transactions at shortstop as of yet, how prepared is the new Milwaukee Brewer Jerry Hairston to fill in for Yuni, since he has never played a great deal of SS in his career? Maybe more than you think. In 2010 he did play almost 500 innings at shortstop for for the Padres. He recorded a 3.9 UZR in that time, which prorates out to a 9.8 UZR/150. If Hairston was able to maintain that type of defensive excellence over the course of an entire season, he would be a huge upgrade defensively. Considering Yuni has managed to accumulate a -.2 WAR, Hairston would be a welcome replacement.
Finally, I will leave you with this. Craig Counsell is a fine defensive player. He might the best defensive infielder on the team. However, if the man is going to fail to get a hit in two months, as least save him for the late innings as a defensive replacement. Considering the back end of the bullpen assembled in Milwaukee, it just makes good baseball sense to put the best defensive team possible on the field. Runnin’ Ron Roenicke simply needs to do a better job down the stretch of giving his pitchers the best chance to succeed.
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