A Simple Kind of Fan. Not the Worst SS Yuni Watch – 9.7.11
This week in the Yuni Watch we try to assess just how bad the season has turned for Milwaukee’s favorite Cuban shortstop. Obviously he has struggled since his torrid July Renaissance and today we try to find out if he is the worst shortstop in the National League. We will look at his place offensively and defensively among the league’s worst shortstops. Finally, I will dispel the rumor going around Milwaukee that Yuni might be the worst player in all of baseball.
For the week Yuni was above average, but still revealed an alarming characteristic. He indeed managed to go 7 x 22 with two runs and an RBI. Yuni also managed to draw his first walk since August 16th. While on the surface this looks like a great stat line, much of the sizzle is empty statistics. For instance, two of Yuni’s seven hits were for extra bases, with a double and a triple. He managed to score runs on both of these hits because of solid hitting behind him in the order. Despite all of Yuni’s flash with 7 hits, he only had one RBI all week. Since he hits sixth in the lineup virtually daily, this means that Braun, Fielder, and McGehee are not getting on base, OR that Yuni tallied his hits in the lowest of leverage situations throughout the week. I have been preaching all season that Yuni is full of empty offense and hopefully it is becoming clear each week how little of an offensive impact he makes nightly.
Now that we have covered the week that was Yuni, it’s time to discuss his place among the worst shortstops in the National League. According to Fangraphs, out of the 13 shortstops in the National League with a minimum of 400 at bats, Yuni is ranked dead last in WAR with a total of 0.1. This means that he has been worth about .1 wins more than a random replacement player brought up from the minor leagues. While he has managed to accumulate some offensive statistics throughout the year due to a high number of plate appearances, they are completely nullified with a terrible defensive rating. In fact, Yuni’s real evidence for ineptitude is defensively. With a minimum of 800 innings, his UZR(-8.9) and UZR/150(-11.8) rankings are also dead last among all 13 qualifying NL shortstops.
Certainly we have established that Yuni Betancourt is the worst defensive shortstop in the National League and also has the lowest overall player contribution, according to WAR among NL Shortstops. But is he the worst in baseball? I don’t think so.
Back on July 30th, San Francisco made very little noise when the acquired Orlando Cabrera from the Cleveland Indians. Cabrera is the definition of a veteran as evidenced by his 8 seasons with the Expos. In 2011, Cabrera has managed to amass 453 plate appearances. While we can compare the two players offensively, it will be tough defensively. This is because the Indians were wise to avoid playing Cabrera at the shortstop position while the Giants simply continue to have no choice. Since joining the team on August 1st, Cabrera has played 28 games at shortstop. While difficult to compare, it is not impossible if we use Cabrera’s defensive metrics from both 2B and SS.
|Xtra Base Hits||37||20|
|UZR||-8.9||2B: -5.3 SS: -0.8|
|UZR/150||-11.8||2B: -8.6 SS: -2.6|
Clearly the numbers show that Betancourt has been more productive offensively than Cabrera. In fact, Cabrera walks just as infrequently and has a lower On Base Percentage! Also, Yuni hits with much more power than Cabrera. Defensively, the numbers say that Cabrera is still below average this season. It is hard to sort out these defensive numbers with just one season, but I think it is safe to assume that the 36 year old veteran has lost a step or two. I think much of this is represented in his very poor total WAR of -1.2. Given the abundance of evidence, I would rather have Yuni than Orlando Cabrera from the San Francisco Giants. Therefore, Yuniesky Betancourt is currently NOT the worst shortstop in the National League. Rejoice Milwaukee.
In Case You Missed It
This week there was quite a bit of love from the National media. As the season begins to wind down, reporters and columnists are going to begin to look at what makes this Brewers team different from last year. Of course, the acquisitions of Greinke and Marcum have to be at the top of the list.
First up is an entertaining piece from Grant Brisbee of Baseball Nation. He looks back at the Marcum for Lawrie deal and concluded it is a win for each team. I would have to agree and disagree. While Lawrie looks like he could be the real deal for the Blue Jays, the Marcum acquisition allows the starting rotation to be better and go deeper into games. This in turn has made the bullpen better for the Brewers. I feel as if Shawn Marcum has impacted the Brewers to a larger degree than Brett Lawrie for the Jays RIGHT NOW. While the deal did help the Blue Jays, Lawrie’s potential is in six years of club control. Of course, some are lamenting the fact that he could be a stud. However, his poor defense is what I feel makes the trade a bit one dimensional for Toronto moving forward. In short, I’m not sold that Lawrie’s million dollar talent and two cent head are a combination that will lead to major league greatness. Perhaps it would be best to review this trade in another two years after Marcum’s long term Milwaukee fate will have been decided.
The second piece is an eye opening article from the Kansas City Star’s Sam Mellinger. No city knows Zack Greinke better than the fine people of Kansas City. Mellinger discusses Greinke’s likes and dislikes associated with living in Milwaukee. As we all know, Greinke is a different guy. He doesn’t like fan interactions and loathes people in general. I don’t know if Greinke will ever truly be happy any place he plays baseball, but at least he is winning in Milwaukee and appears to be happy, for now.
Moving forward, there is going to be unrealistic fans clamoring for Prince Fielder to resign with the Brewers. It isn’t a realistic possibility and frankly, I feel that the resources could be spent better elsewhere. If this season has taught us anything, it is that pitching is king and you can never have enough. I would say extending the contract of Greinke has to be priority #1 this offseason. I am also warming to the possibility of an extension for Marcum, despite his dangerous cross body delivery. Both pitchers have been absolute rocks in the rotation and have been difference makers this season. Having these two pitchers in the mix for years to come would be an ideal end to the Prince Fielder saga.
Shameless Self Promotion
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Featured Image Credit: AP Photo/Rick Scuteri