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Yuni’s competition October 4, 2007

Posted by Brad in stats.
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While Yuniesky Betancourt may not compare favorably to the Jeters’, Rollins’ and Tulowitzki’s of the league (though his last name is just as long as Tulo’s), he matches up  pretty well against Mariners’ other shortstops.
Except for three pinch-hit at bats (all outs, 1 K), Betancourt exclusively played short. So, his hitting splits at the position (in 533 at bats) were .291, .309, .420.
His main back-up was the Pride of the Kitsap Peninsula… the Million-Dollar Utility Infielder… Willie Bloomquist. (Can you feel the mild loathing?) His splits in 44 at bats at shortstop: .205, .286, .227. Yep, he had a .227 slugging percentage. In other words, when playing shortstop, he never had a hit that allowed him to safely pass the shortstop (just one double). Ouch. Side note: Willie had a hit in his only at bat when playing first base. So his batting average was about 800 points better than Richie Sexson.
Nick Green had two at bats at short, both strikeouts in the extra innings loss to the Indians last week (including one with the bases loaded with two outs in which he looked like a fifth grader). He did have good overall splits in the minors this year (.313, .354, .561), but again, he looked really bad in his short stint with the M’s. His range at short isn’t very impressive either. He’s 28, and I really doubt the M’s will bring him back–they don’t need two bad-hitting (f)utility infielders.
Keeping with the small sample size, Mike Morse had a game-winning RBI single, also in extra innings against the Indians. But he’s listed on ESPN as a first baseman, which should tell you all you need to know about his defensive ability.
So clearly, he’s got nothing to worry about at the major league level–every post mortem on the team this week has listed him as a crucial piece of the team, alongside Ichiro, Kenji, Felix, and Adam Jones (who?). But what about at the minors?
USSMariner’s Future Forty calls Oswaldo Navarro (.249, .309, .323 in Triple-A Tacoma) a projected role player, though they expect him in the bigs next year.
Yuni’s real threat, though, is Carlos Triunfel (.288, .333, .356 split between low- and high-A ball). USSM has written about him frequently, even saying they have an underage mancrush on him. Yep, he’s only 17. So when I was figuring out the SATs, he was figuring out how to hit a curveball as a High Desert Maverick. For this reason, though, Yuni’s probably safe until 2010, at least. Triunfel could be really great, but he’ll also take at least two years to develop, and might implode (which I’m not rooting for) or change positions (which I’d be more amenable to).
So, when your competition is a bunch of guys who can’t hit above .250 with next-to-no power, you’re probably pretty safe.  Victory for Yuniesky!

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