A Simple Kind of Fan. The ‘Playing With House Money’ Yuni Watch! – 8.17.11
You show up at a party and as you walk past the poker table someone asks you if you want to play. You say, sure, except you have no money. The guy tosses you a few chips and says you’ll owe him. Of course, you start out in rough shape and you are soon down to the last chip. You’ve already surrendered it as a lost cause when suddenly it happens. You win a hand and now you have 2 chips. Then you win again and have 4 chips. This pattern repeats itself over the next few hours until you have paid back your initial investment, plus you have acquired a healthy sum for an unexpected windfall. This is called playing with house money.
You see, Yuni Betancourt was down to his last chip on June 19th. After a series final loss to Boston, he had a slash line of .224/.247/.325/.572 and was barely treading water. There were multiple calls for his head and it appeared clear that Milwaukee would need to look elsewhere for a shortstop alternative. Then something happened. He started winning a few days. Against the Rays on June 20th, he collected a pair of hits. In fact, over the next 12 games, he collected 16 hits. Things began to snowball for Yuni in a way that seems unimaginable on that dark day in Boston.
Today, Yuni is sporting a slash line that has shown remarkable improvement from June at .266(+.042)/.286(+.039)/.390(+.065)/.676(+.104). He has shown dramatic increase in each category and suddenly some of his defensive shortcomings can somewhat be overlooked.
I will freely admit it, I was wrong about the ability of Yuni Betancourt to handle the position offensively. Clearly, he has the potential to get red hot, as evidenced recently with his multiple hitting streaks. I was also wrong about Yuni’s ability to carry an offense. Anyone watching him hit that bomb in the 1-0 victory over Pittsburgh knows Yuni can win a game all by himself. Finally, I was wrong about what type of impact Yuni could have on this potential playoff team come October. Despite my misgivings about his limited range, Ron Roenicke has done a superior job of getting Yuni into the right spot to make a play most nights. Officially, for the record, I would like to apologize at this time for being wrong about Yuniesky Betancourt.
Indeed, Yuni has become an offensive weapon of sorts. For the week, he managed 7 hits in 25 at bats. As we all know, he won the game against Pittsburgh, but it was also a noteworthy game because Yuni managed to draw a walk, which was only his 14th of the season. I have often been critical of Yuni for his lack of pitch selection. However, one other Brewer that is a free swinger is Tony Plush. Heck Plush only has 7 walks, yet nobody gets on him because he has such a high batting average. Yuni has managed to be successful without working the count. While this goes against every ounce of baseball acumen I have acquired, if it’s not broke I guess we shouldn’t try to fix it.
In August, Yuni continues to look like a completely different hitter with some fine offensive numbers. For instance he is hitting .339 in August to go along with a .867 OPS. Do you who are the only shortstops in baseball that has an OPS higher than .867 this season? Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Reyes. I was wrong about Yuni, and I can only hope I continue to be wrong as the season creeps towards October.
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Featured Image Credit: Chris Carlson – AP