Posted by Steve
I can’t get away from Yuniesky Betancourt.
First, the Brewers signed him, sending me reeling into a .GIF-laden post that had me questioning my fandom. Of course, that post was in jest, but I really hated the idea of having to watch him again. Since then, Aramis Ramirez has gotten injured, sliding Alex Gonzalez to third and Yuni into the starting lineup at first base.
It is possible to find positives out of this: First, he’s not playing shortstop. Approximately 65.7% of my hatred toward Yuni (Yuni the player, not the person–but more on this in a moment) was directed toward his “defense” at shortstop. He is no longer killing the Brewers defensively, playing a much easier position in first base. Second, and most obvious, he’s really been hitting so far.
Naturally, this has led to a lot of people needling me. Even Ron Roenicke is buying into the hype. “He’s more patient than he was before,” Roenicke said. “He sees the off-speed stuff better. Really, he looks like a good offensive player.”
So, has Yuni truly turned a corner? Has he reinvented himself at age 31?
Of course not. In fact, a little research reveals how hilariously off Roenicke’s comments actually were. The “more patient than he was before” Betancourt is actually swinging at more pitches outside of the strike zone than he has over his career, according to my old employer Baseball Info Solutions. Same with his overall swing percentage. He is seeing a measly 3.23 pitches per plate appearance in this young season. Among qualified players, Betancourt is seeing the second-fewest pitches in all of the National League!
Now, obviously this is a very small sample size. But it’s the same sample size that Roenicke used to say Yuni looks like a more patient hitter.
So, of course, it’s same old Yuni. He’s still an impatient hitter with decent power and horrible on-base skills. He isn’t doing anything we haven’t seen from him before. He’s gone on hot streaks before; he even had one or two with the Brewers, like in the 2011 playoffs. Eventually, with this same approach, he’ll cool off. Then, it will be back to the same old hacking player.
I do have one other story about Yuni. I went to the game on Wednesday with my girlfriend, her parents, and many of her parents’ friends. When Betancourt hit his home run, my girlfriend’s dad reacted in this way.
“Heyyyy! Who was that? Yuni? YUNI! HEY STEVE, HOW ABOUT YUNI!!!” Then turns to all his friends, who I’ve just met. “Steve HATES Yuni!”
At least I had about five innings left to dig out of that one.