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Yuni had a good April May 1, 2008

Posted by Brad in stats.
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Yuniesky Betancourt is one of the few Mariners that had a solid first month of the season. The only other M’s that should be proud of their play are Adrian Beltre, Felix Hernandez, Jose Lopez, Carlos Silva, Greg Norton, and Willie Bloomquist (just because he got to play so much).

Here are Yuni’s numbers so far this season (in wonky chart form):

Batting

AB

BA

OBP

SLG

ISO

OPS+

RC/27

WPA

Clutch

SB

CS

93

.301

.316

.430

.129

107

4.38

0.09

0.16

0

1

Fielding

E

FP

RZR

OOZ

4

.968

.823

6

And a couple random stats:
Pitches/plate appearances: 3.09
Walk/Strikeout ratio: 3/7
Walk/Triple ratio: 3/1

So what do all these numbers mean?
Yuni’s hitting better than ever. This is the first season he’s an above league-average hitter (proven by his OPS+). Too bad Yuni’s rise to average is driven almost exclusively by raising his batting average to .300. His power (ISO) is exactly the same as last year, and he’s on pace to draw a pitiful two more walks than in 2007.

Yuni’s “hitting better than ever” comes down to solely to his increased batting average on balls in play (BABIP), a stat that quantifies how well hitters follow the Wee Willie Keeler dictum of “Hit ‘Em Where They Ain’t.” Yuni’s BABIP this month was .318, higher than his career mark of .304. Whereas BABIP isn’t too repeatable with pitchers, apparently it’s mildly repeatable for batters. Since the typical BABIP for hitters is .300, Yuni’s slight uptick isn’t that freakish a rise, and could be a sign of better sustained hitting.

To cancel out all the optimism, I want to point out that Yuni’s only stepped up to the plate 93 time. If Yuni hadn’t gotten a single last night, his batting average would be .290, and his stats would be nigh identical to last year’s. Yuniesky Betancourt in 2008: one single better than ever.

And, while he is one single better than ever, Yuni is not nearly as clutch as he was last season.

Out in the field, Yuni’s been frustrating to watch. He had four errors in April (two fielding, two throwing), which is as many as he had in the final 71 games of last season. Also, he made no errors in April 2007. He hasn’t been a disaster in the field. His Revised Zone Rating (RZR) is the highest it’s been since 2005, but is only the 17th best among major league shortstops. Clearly, Yuni isn’t playing like the elite defensive shortstop the Mariners and their fans want and expect him to be.

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