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Yuni vs. his backup, part 1 March 28, 2008

Posted by Brad in commentary, stats.
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I’ve been focusing on Mariners shortstops that came before Yuniesky Betancourt. Today, one that came alongside Yuni.

2002-2007: Willie Bloomquist
Stats: .261/.313/.329 in 1,090 at-bats over 6 seasons. That slugging percentage is right–only 57 of his 284 hits have been for extra bases, all but 12 of which were doubles. Willie’s one useful skill is stealing bases: he has successfully stolen 57 bases, and failed just 13 times. Bloomquist has only played 99 games at shortstop, but he’s Yuni’s most likely replacement, so I figured I should give him a post.
Place in M’s fandom: fractured. He’s either the hometown hero or the hometown whipping boy, depending on whether you value hustle or statistical achievement more.
Willie Bloomquist has more nicknames among M’s fans than any other player. There’s The Igniter, Willie Effing Bloomquist, Willie Ballgame, Willie Boom-Boom, Princess Willie, etc. I’ve advocated calling him Little Bill, to continue William H. Macy’s future stranglehold on baseball player nicknames. (Also, Willie’s role on the Mariners is fairly equivalent to Little Bill’s job as camera operator for Jack Horner’s film empire.)
Still, some people like Willie Bloomquist. I believe it’s for the same reason that Sonics fans like point guard Luke Ridnour, according to Sherman Alexie:

I think that Luke Ridnour’s fans, no matter what color they are, root for him because they see this tiny little guy running around the court and they secretly think they are better basketball players than him.

Just switch “court” for “field” and take out the “k” and “t” in “basketball.” Plus, Ridnour and Bloomquist are both Washingtonians. Mariners team stores stock replica Willie Bloomquist jerseys. I think there’s absolutely no reason for this. Granted, I know a guy who bought one before a game last year.
Wikipedia/Google: Willie Bloomquist was voted the worst player in baseball in 2006.
His wikipedia page reads like it’s been heavily edited. Here’s a (long) sample:

He is a versatile player that can play many positions, but is a limited contributor due to his below average offensive and defensive production and prowess. He has above-average speed and good baseball senses, leading him to be often used in late innings as a pinch runner for slower players. He is also sometimes used as a defensive specialist, though he does not excel at any given position. Although he is applauded for his versatility and intangibles, his place on the roster is oft criticized by some fans because of his limitations as a Major League Baseball player.

The only praise in that paragraph is for his “baseball sense.” Right. Wikipedia also points out that Willie’s making $1 million dollars this year.
On his official profile, it says the Mariners have always been high on Willie. They tried drafting him before college, but he decided to spend a few years in Arizona (good choice). He was named Pac-10 Player of the Year in 1999. That’s surprising.

Is Willie Bloomquist better than Yuniesky Betancourt? Go ask manager John McLaren who’s going to start on Monday.

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