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Yuni won’t change! March 21, 2008

Posted by Brad in news, stats.
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There are two stories that keep popping up about Yuniesky Betancourt during spring training.
Story #1: Yuni needs to steal bases. Jim Street drew out a quote from Yuni (translated by first base coach Eddie Rodriguez):

“Stealing bases is not something I have tried in my career, but I am getting a feel for it this spring. [Guest coach Rich Amaral and I] talked about reading the pitcher, getting a jump and, when I’m on second base, watching how the pitcher is holding the ball, which might tell you what kind of pitch he’s going to throw.”

So how’s that going so far this spring? Yuni has one stolen base, but has been caught stealing twice. Amaral says that with some work, Yuni could be as good as Omar Vizquel, who has 380 steals in 532 attempts. That’s a 71% success rate, which is below the golden “effective rate” of 75%. So Yuni’s goal is to be slightly below effective. I think Yuni has good reflexes, but lacks the sprinting speed that could make him a solid base stealer.

Story #2: Will Yuni bat second? I’m all for taking away at-bats from Jose Vidro, but Yuni may not be the one to do it. Looking at the spring stats, Yuni’s three rates stats are .297/.350 /.432. He’s shown a bit more patience, with 3 walks in about 40 plate appearances versus 15 all of last year, but probably not enough to convince manager John McLaren to move him up from ninth in the order to second.

A few other interesting spring stats, showing the peculiarities of small sample sizes:
-Miguel Cairo leads the M’s in at-bats, and is hitting .318 with no walks, but some power. None of this will continue in the regular season.
-Jose Lopez has an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of .479, which is lower than Cairo’s slugging percentage.
-Vidro’s OPS is .469. His slugging percentage is .219. He’s the Mariners’ starting DH.
-Willie Bloomquist is hitting .217, but all five of his hits are singles.
Yuni’s starting job is safe.

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