(Photo: AP/David J. Phillip)
It’s probably fair to say that most Brewers fans remember Yuniesky Betancourt’s 2011 run without fondness. His .252 batting average / .271 on-base percentage / .381 slugging percentage did not exactly set the world on fire. He committed 21 errors that year, which was Yuni’s fourth season with at least 20. The guy has had a negative WAR every year since 2007. If you participated in a drinking game where everyone did a shot when Yuni popped out to an infielder, you would succumb to alcohol poisoning well before the All Star break.
But it looks like Yuni is back for lucky ’13. While it would easy to slap our foreheads and curse our rotten luck, let’s instead keep it on the positive. There are only a few more days before the start of the season, so we can afford to be optimistic. Yuni has a lot of upsides that we should keep in mind.
Haudricourt’s post on the Yuni signing noted he was hitting .447/.451/.574 in 18 spring training games with the Phillies. There’s some promise there.
Looking back over Yuni’s 2011 stats, I notice he led the league in sacrifice flies that year with 10. That’s…not so bad. I would have assumed if Yuni led the league in any particular metric, it wouldn’t be something that helped his team.
It may be hard to remember, but Yuni had a good playoff run in 2011. Not Jerry Hairston good, but nothing to sneeze at: .310/.326/.500 with three doubles, a home run, and 6 RBI in 11 games.
Remember that crazy double play he started where he flipped the ball behind his back to a barehanded catch-and-turn by Rickie Weeks? Sure you do.
On a personal note, Yuni was part of one of my favorite in-person Brewers games on May 20, 2011. The Brewers were still “searching for their identity” as they say, just a few weeks removed from a seven-game losing streak and still under .500. That Friday, they played the Rockies in a 14-inning game where they had to come from behind in three different innings to eventually secure a 7-6 win (on a glorious Prince Fielder walk-off). To get to that point, they needed a solo home run from Yuni in the bottom of the 13th to tie the game and keep the Brewers alive. That game was a significant turning point in what would be the winningest season in club history.
While there’s a lot to criticize about Yuni, let’s look on the bright side and remember the guy can contribute. If nothing else, we can at least start using the nickname “Yuni-bomber” again.